Sabah Developed Status by 2015?

Dr Mahathir, the creator of the concept, was not politically aware of the socio-economic implications and the consequential results of the CM Rotation System, which he introduced in Sabah politics would have an adverse effect on the people within the state to some extent.

Mohd Jefri Radius

WHAT is the least known but important achievement in Sabah’s political history? No one can deny the fact that Sabah has emerged as the only State in the country with a record of 12 Chief Ministers since the dawn of independence including those appointed for the post under  the two-year rotation, whereby a Chief Minister was chosen and appointed from among the ruling BN component parties in Sabah with the blessing of the Head of State, to represent the Muslim Bumiputera, Non-Muslim Bumiputera and the Chinese communities to incorporate a combination of power sharing for the sake of uniting Sabahans regardless of race, creed and social belief etc. which was gradually abolished in 2004.

Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed was behind the whole concept of imposing the system, which coincided with Umno’s maiden adventure to spread its wings into Sabah. Dr Mahathir played a strategic game of political chess by moving his pieces across the board using the “Divide and Rule Strategy” to checkmate and put an end to PBS’ glory and ego.

Historically, substantial sums of funds have been allocated to the State since the First Malaysia Plan was implemented. What was the actual amount spent so far? RM100 Billion? It could be more. Whatever the total allocated funds spent, there is no doubt that that “Hidden Hands” were also at play in controlling and managing these funds. Therefore, it comes as no big surprise to see projects completed, but not meeting the specifications, including those left uncompleted and abandoned for several years at the expense of tax payers’ money.

It is rather disheartening to note that we have never heard nor seen action undertaken by the Auditor-General, who could prompt the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) to carry out investigations into discrepancies in the relevant Ministries which received the funds.

It is agreeable that the Government’s commitment to fully fulfil Nation building Missions and Visions, would not be achieved overnight. A number of factors need to be considered which include planning, formulating, feasibility studies, schedules of projects implementation and of course the delivery system etc just to mention a few.

In Malaysia, both State and Federal Government play the equal roles together towards achieving this primary objective based on the availability of budgets allocated to the relevant ministries in question.

Rural development happened at a slow pace due to bureaucratic factors, the common known stumbling block, thus affecting the livelihood of most rural indigenous groups including the Muruts, who dominated the Interior Residency and the Rungus, who live in the Northern Region of the State, where poverty has turned its ugly head against these rural indigenous who are still depending on the government of the day to further improve their standard of living. Hence, the primary aim at eliminating poverty is not the task of the State Government alone.

The Federal Ministry of Rural and Regional Development under Datuk Seri Mohd Safie Afdal is vested with similar roles as well to achieve this parallel objective. The fact is the Ministry has a wider scope in view of its huge allocation of RM16 Billion approved by Parliament last year to be fairly channeled for rural development nationwide within three years with effect from year 2011 to 2013.

The majority of these rural folks depend on subsistence farming carried out on small plots of lands. Most villages occupied by the hardcore poor in the State do not have electricity or piped water. They rely on kerosene lamps when night falls and gravity water for their source of drinking water which would get murky during the rainy season.

The non-existence of basic amenities in most rural regions of the State reflects government indifference towards improving the the quality of the rural folks.

The crystal clear rivers which were once the source of clean drinking water for the Muruts in the Interior Residency for example, have now become a thing of the past.

The conventional actions of Land Clearing for oil palm plantation and logging to extract timbers within the vicinity of water catchments area have badly polluted the rivers. The quality of the river water in question is no longer safe for drinking, it is awfully murky and terribly dirty.

Retrospectively, on April 19th 2010, TV3 showed an aerial video footage of the milky and polluted Pensiangan River as a result of rampant logging is a case in point.

Ecologically, it may possibly take a cycle of another 100 years or more before the natural purity of the rivers can be fully restored.

The Trans Pegalan Villages comprising Kpg Sedomon, Kpg Mailo and Kpg Pantai Baru, which share common and bad feeder roads that had not been upgraded for ages linking with the main road at Kpg Marasak leading to Keningau Town 25 km apart is another example.

These villages are located within Sook State Constituency and Keningau Parliamentary constituency respectively. Before redelineation or readjustment of electoral boundaries, the villages in question were predominantly inhabited by communitities and part of the Keningau Parliamentary Constituency for many years, but  the longstanding problem of getting clean drinking water for these villages seem to have been ignored or overlooked by the elected YBs, despite several changes of State government since independence.

Whether the current YBs representing the constituencies, both from PBRS, are aware of the people’s predicament and what they have done for them since the last election would be interesting to know.

As polling day looms, it will not be a great astonishment for us to see these familiar faces of elected representatives knocking at the doors of every constituent within the villages in question telling identical sweet promises to gather the winning votes. The people are now smart enough to interpret Abraham Lincon’s adage which says “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time”.

CM Musa had repetitively directed all BN State representatives to go to the ground (Turun Padang) to render assistance wherever possible sought by the Rakyats. It sounds rather hilarious if the people’s reps have turned their deaf ears and blind eyes deliberately on relevant matters of public interest within their respective constituencies.

The question now is would our State Leader’s ambitious visions and missions to turn Sabah, “The Land Below The Wind” into a developed State by 2015 become a reality with reference to the present status quo of the villages scenario in question?

Realistically, Dr Mahathir, the creator of the concept, was not politically aware of the socio-economic implications and the consequential results of the CM Rotation System, which he introduced in Sabah politics would have an adverse effect on the people within the state to some extent.

The change of CMs under the rotation infused a series of administrative and socio-economic complications. Many Government assets were sold and privatized if they had not been done so under PBS and the Forest Management Unit (FMU) Concept was no exception.

It was also an open secret that various Government departments spent substantial sums of money totaling millions of ringgits in vehicle rentals from Angkatan Hebat when the State coffers was facing financial constraints.

In 1997, the State Reserve was only about RM60 million, which was only sufficient to pay the salaries of State Civil Servants for two months. The amount increased to RM300 million after the 1997 – 2000 Asian Economic Crisis.

However, CM Musa’s optimistic endeavour and sound fiscal management know-how acquired in the world of business before embarking into full time politics contributed well to restore the financial status of the State’s coffers, which generated a total reserve of about RM2.4 billion in 2010. A success that no Sabah CM has attained.

CM Musa was quoted as saying during the presentation of the 2009 Budget of RM2.778 Billion for the subsequent year “We have targeted year 2015 to make Sabah a developed State, looking forward to bringing improvement and betterment to the people, the Government is committed to meet financial obligations either by internal means through the strong financial standing or outsourcing for more Federal Fund“ (D.E 15th November 2008).

It is undeniable that Sabahans are looking forward to the materialization of this nature of Nation Building commitment, which are feasible on conditions that or only if :-
a) The methodology of implementation and delivery system must be conducted authentically and transparently .
b) The allocated development funds must be well managed, utilized, distributed and monitored to serve its purposes by a reliable appointed agency represented by both Federal and State Governments. The special funds allocated to each MP (RM One Million) and State Assemblymen (RM400,000) granted under the 9th Malaysian Plan respectively are no exception.
c) Technical men comprising engineers (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical & Structural etc) must be assigned to conduct regular physical inspections to evaluate the progress of every government projects from the initial until completion stages in both rural and urban constituencies to ensure that the construction matches with the required specifications etc. Payments of claims made by the respective contractors must be based upon the official verifications made by these technical men.
d) The UMNO led BN State Government must scrap the system of awarding contracts by the process of special favour consideration or “Closed Door“ negotiated tender to corporate bodies or individuals who lack the experience and financial capacity, despite their affiliation with the ruling party or blessings from their political masters.

The remaining three years will soon elapse in the year 2015 and will be cut short with an interval as speculation is rife now that the dissolution of the current parliament will take place any time although its term will only end on April 24, 2013 to pave the way for the 13th General Election to seek fresh mandate from the people including Malaysians in Sabah.

Pragmatically, the RM4.05 Billion of the State’s 2012 Budget unveiled by CM Musa recently was well lauded by many sectors, giving positive impression that his inspiring leadership has been instrumental in placing Sabah among the best financially managed States tagged with a Triple A rating in the country.

Over the years the people of Sabah have seen the numbers of CMs, Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblymen changing hands one after the other including those representing constituencies, where the poor natives dominate.

It is only fair that those who have served the community well during their terms of office be allowed to continue serving longer with the people’s support, but not those who have been there for years but did nothing or little other than to show their egos with their YB tags. These politicians should be replaced or rejected at once, irrespective of whether they are aligned with the ruling coalition or the opposition, to make way for several new faces having the potential and meeting the criteria as the winnable candidates with the support of the people within their respective home ground constituencies.

People are now fully matured with the wisdom to judge the backgrounds and credibility of leaders who come in search of political pleasure either in broad day light or after sunset.

No matter who forms the next State Government after the 13th General Election, we Malaysians in Sabah expect nothing other than to see that the State benefits from or would deserve the Golden Fruits of its 49 years of Independence via the Federation of Malaysia.

It will be a memorable moment and significant political history for every Malaysian in Sabah to be proud of in the event that these outstanding Visions and Missions could be achieved successfully and turned into reality one day.