SAPP wants the people of Sabah to rise up against BN and Umno to demand the reinstatement of the original terms of the Malaysia Agreement.
Joseph Bingkasan, FMT
KOTA KINABALU: Frustrated with the current scenario, the Sabah-based political party led by former chief minister Yong Teck Lee wants to reinstate the original terms of the 20-point Malaysia Agreement inked in 1963.
The party argued that the people of Sabah had lost their political autonomy through the presence of Kuala Lumpur-based parties, in particular Barisan Nasional-Umno and now Pakatan Rakyat.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which filed for registration on Jan 20, 1994 and was approved by the registrar the following day, would be fielding candidates in more than half of the state’s 60 constituencies and most of the 25 parliamentary seats.
The party, a BN component member until it pulled out on Sept 17, 2008, now has two MPs and two members in the State Legislative Assembly.
“Sabah has suffered enough and this coming election is an appropriate window of opportunity for the people to make a change by giving SAPP the mandate to helm the state government and more voice in Parliament,” said the party’s Liawan vice-chairman Joseph Lakai.
Lakai, who is also a member of the Progressive Institute of Public Policy Analysis (PIPPA), was speaking at a Malaysia Day gathering of supporters from four villagers – Dangulad, Ria, Taurid Taud and Liawan – in Keningau yesterday.
Lakai, touted to be SAPP’s candidate for Liawan, told the gathering that Sabah had already come to its 49 years of independence and 49 years of formation of the federation of Malaysia.
He recounted how in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation of Malaysia and became a fully independent nation.
“Singapore has now become the richest country in Southeast Asia and the sixth richest country in Asia while Sabah has become the poorest state in Malaysia with major problems,” he said.
Racial and religious polarisation
Lakai pointed out that Sabah had to tolerate 37 years of regressive educational system and had to sacrifice three generations of global competitiveness in the name of nationhood.
“Yet, racial and religious polarisation in Malaysia today is worse than the early days of independence,” he added.
He also said that after 49 years of centralised economic and financial mismanagement, the national debt totalled RM490 billion.
It was a debt created to develop Malaya, which Sabah and Sarawak now must share to pay, he said.
He added that in the interest of nationhood and protecting the national shipping industry, the cabotage policy was introduced in 1980. Sabah had to suffer 32 years of discrimination and disenfranchisement, and as a result, Sabah has the highest cost of living in Malaysia.
According to him, after 49 years with Malaysia, Sabah has the worst health system and the highest incidence of vector diseases such as TB and malaria, in addition to suffering from the lack of specialist doctors and nurses, and insufficient medical facilities and infrastructure.
He said Sabah has the highest mortality of 13 per 1,000 live births compared with 8.1 for the nation.
“Fourteen years after Tenaga National Bhd [TNB] took over power generation and distribution in Sabah, the state still suffers the highest interruption (2,600 minutes) of electricity supply in Malaysia compared to the lowest interruption (33 minutes) in the peninsula; as a result of this, Sabah could not industrialise and [could not] encourage investments opportunities,” he added.
Lakai said Sabah, despite being the main producer of palm oil and petroleum in Malaysia, also had the highest poverty rate in the country and insufficient basic needs. Sabah and Sarawak had only 9,000km of sealed roads compared with 31,40km in the peninsula.