Challenges for Sabah in Malaysia?


SABAH jointly formed the Federation of Malaysia on the 16th September, 1963. It has been 47 years since the Sabahan leaders agreed to form the Federation of Malaysia, in the hope that, the interests, rights and autonomy of the Sabah people are protected.

Leaders come and go and the interpretation of good leadership in Sabah is subjective. However, the nexus of this article is not to interpret the leadership of the past leaders. The onus is on the current leaders.

What have the Sabahan got to be proud of being a Malaysian? Have the Sabahan felt that their interests, rights and autonomy are being protected? Let no political leaders argue or concur on these issues before searching their souls. This is not about who is right or wrong, pious or sinful, facts or myths but a matter of conscience and honesty.

Let us all begin by asking ourselves, one very simple question; are we really, honestly happy with the current situation in Sabah? One question with thousands of excuses (answers). Again, happiness is very subjective.

As far as the status of Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia is concerned, there is no turning back. Whether happy or satisfied, we no longer have choices. We have to move forward and we can make ourselves living in Sabah more comfortable and bearable, more feeling at home and smell the freedom of being ,’the son or daughter of the soil’, the inner feeling of not being discriminated because of race or religion and being deprived of what others are enjoying.

The credibility of the government does not lie on data and statistics. It is merely a reflection of how good the Department of Statistic can manipulate the information they acquired and how they present them to their political masters. The government would have one side of the story whilst those who oppose, would have another story to tell. The truth is often hidden.

As a matter of perception and insinuation: The Prime Minister or Chief Minister does not lie. The believers in Barisan Nasional are always telling the truth and they fight for the Rakyat. Like-wise, only Nik Aziz, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh and Yong Teck Lee tell lies and they have personal agendas.

As lies travel faster than the truth, let us make assumptions: If it true that the leaders in the current government are really fighting for the Rakyat, why then, the Rakyat are still not having the simple privilege of getting electricity, water and proper means of communication?

Why are the Rakyat still complaining about their living conditions, the high cost of purchasing basic needs and in general, why is poverty still around us after 47 years of forming Malaysia and knowing very well, Sabah was very rich in natural resources?

The current leaders and their in-house followers will always have something to say or rather defensive. They do not listen to those who criticize and accuse their foes bluntly of intentionally undermining the Rakyat. They simply refuse to admit their weaknesses. They even condemn those within their groups if they do not dance to the same tune.

Government leaders and oppositions alike, let us analyse what makes the Rakyat happy? For once, let us beg for honesty but then, what is honesty in this modern world of materialistic ideology?

The government speaks of good governance, fairness and freedom and 1Malaysia. The oppositions like Nik Aziz speaks of Islamic Laws, Anwar Ibrahim of fairness and freedom, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh of equal rights and Yong Teck Lee of Sabahan rights. Are they really telling the truth? Or just fishing for votes to sustain their positions or to defeat the current government?

Let us assume the government is telling the truth. Good governance delivers efficient delivery system and therefore, whatever is being promised is delivered. If everything is being promised fulfilled, then the Rakyat will have nothing to complain about. But, if we read in the daily news, there are a lot of complaints. What does it implicate? Happiness or dissatisfaction?

If the government talks about fairness and freedom, then we ask, is it fair for the Rakyat to be deprived of basic needs like electricity, clean water, fairly good roads and bridges? What type of fairness is the government talking about if the award of contracts is given to few privileged Muslim and Non-Muslim Bumiputra?

Are the so-called Non-Bumiputra not deserve the same treatment? Why is the government still practicing but at the same time, marginalizing racial and religious sentiments if the government talks about 1Malaysia?

On the other hand, Nik Aziz and PAS still thinking about a truly Islamic nation. What exactly is Anwar Ibrahim talking about fairness and freedom, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh focus on equal rights and Yong Teck Lee emphasizes on the rights of the Sabah people (Sabah for Sabahan)? Assuming that any of them wins at the next general election, will they keep to their promises or will they behave the same way as the current government?

With so much talk about the Barisan Nasional parties and their achievements, the Rakyat are still not happy. With so many promises, the oppositions still fail to convince the Rakyat. What is next, then? If there is no difference between the current government and the oppositions, so, who do we give our votes to in the next general election?

Let us make some analyses on the pretext of assumptions and followed by the principles of deductive logic:

1. The current government has been making promises upon promises on the provision of electricity, clean water, manageable income to sustain the high costs of living and in general, manage the problem of poverty eradication. The Rakyat still fail to see light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Good governance and good delivery system still fail to uplift the livelihood of the Rakyat. The question is why fail? Why are we still seeing government officers abusing government vehicles? Have our economy improved? If it does, then why are we not enjoying it? The Federal Government has been saying that Sabah has been channeled with large amount of funds? Where, in Sabah, are the funds channeled to?

3. Why are the issues on illegal immigrant never-ending?

4. What about the crime and delinquency, spouse and child abuse, religious problems and conflicts, population problems, education in an age of change, poverty, race discrimination, urban and rural problems, communication problems in mass society, social deviance, health and medical care, civil liberties in an age of protest, environmental and social policy and so on? Why are the distribution of wealth and welfare on piece-meal basis?

5. What about the duplication of Federal and State Departments’ responsibilities and accountabilities? Why do we still have Non-Sabahan holding high positions in the Sabah Development Bank, leaving qualified Sabahan with lower positions and minor roles and responsibilities and giving development loans to companies from outside Sabah?

If the above situation still persists, do we expect the Rakyat to be happy?

To be fair to the current government, let us ask the Rakyat and the political leaders of Sabah if they are willing to sacrifice the following:

Are the Muslim and Non-Muslim Bumiputra prepared to accept the Non-Bumiputra as their peers (equal) in society? Meaning, getting rid of the so-called Bumiputra rights for the sake of protecting the interests, rights and autonomy of Sabah.

Can we start by abolishing the word ‘Bumiputra’ and replace it with ‘Local Sabahan’ and every Local Sabahan should enjoy the privilege of being treated equally? No more need for bumiputra certificates to acquire all types of land titles in Sabah and no more necessity for companies to be separated in identity as bumi and non-bumi! All privileges in Sabah should be equal to all Local Sabahan.

Can the Rakyat agree to have equal opportunites for all Local Sabahan? Meaning, schools and religious bodies be given equal allocations!

No more talk about Bumiputra rights and replace it with the rights of the Local Sabahan and identify these rights into “Local Sabahan who have’s and Local Sabahan who don’t have’s”. Help them with the same passion, sense of belonging and equality. If the response from the Rakyat is positive, then the current government must be prepared to accept the challenge. Otherwise, the oppositions can start the ball rolling!

For guidelines, allow me to insert 27 points on New Deals quoted by Datuk Karim Ghani on the day he left UMNO: