Sun, 23 Jun 2024



Legacies of past three Sabah govts
Published on: Sunday, June 09, 2024
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Over the last 60 years, Sabah has been governed by six governments: Usno, Berjaya, PBS, Barisan (Umno) Warisan and Gabungan.  Let’s examine the performance of three of these governments.  

Usno (1963-1976):

The Usno Government played a crucial role in stablising Sabah’s position within the Malaysian Federation. They introduced various laws and policies aimed at benefiting the people and adopted Islam as the official religion. 

In cooperation with the Federal Government, Usno granted citizenship to Filipino refugees, resulting in an increase the Muslim population from 37% in 1963 to 70% in 2020.


The Berjaya Government introduced numerous economic programs, specifically targeting rural areas. They provided free milk, uniforms and books to all school children, a policy that Indonesia plans to emulate.  

Berjaya also initiated reforestation projects, planting Acacia Mangium (seeds imported from Australia) on barren lands, which now provide much needed wood for furniture.  

Additionally, Berjaya also introduced the planting of Pine trees,   particularly in the Kundasang, Ranau areas, enhancing both the environment and local economy.

Acacia trees, which can thrive in marginal soil, are now planted commercially all over South East Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.  

Berjaya’s introduction of Acacia Mangium has significantly contributed to the rural economy, especially in the Kudat area, as the trees spread naturally to replace grass as a more profitable crop.


The PBS Government was criticised for its management of land and urban planning. They sold off the Sabah Land Development Board’s oil palm plantation, and converted open spaces, car parks and children’s play grounds into commercial and housing areas.  

This led to a lack of open spaces and insufficient parking facilities. At that time PBS Government was advised by the Federal Minister of Housing and Local Government not to muck around with gazetted Town and Country Plans.  

Moreover, in 1985, the World Bank cancelled approved funds amounting to US$250 million for planting Acacia on 500,000 acres of barren land in Sabah, a setback attributed to PBS’s governance

In summary, each government has left a distinct mark on Sabah, with varying degrees of success and challenges, in the way they govern and implement policy.

Awang Jambul

The views expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

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