The “political locusts” who have reduced Sabah from a wealthy state to the poverty of Kelantan should be checked from condemning it to  a worse fate in 2020 of being even poorer than Kelantan

- DAP Political Dialogue

by Lim Kit Siang

(SandakanSaturday): In February this year, former Finance Minister Datuk Mustapha Mohamad issued a blistering report card on Sabah’s 40 years in Malaysia – a dismal failure in development and nation-building! 

Speaking at a public dialogue at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Mustapha, who would have been re-appointed second Finance Minister if he had not been defeated in the 1999 general election and who is now National Economic Action Council executive director and UMNO Information Chief,  admitted that the management of Sabah’s resources, civil service and political situation were among the factors contributing to the state’s lackluster economic performance, reducing a “once wealthy state … a point of no return”. 

In a most telling and cutting verdict, Mustapha said Sabah was “now in the same economic league as his native Kelantan”! 

Mustapha’s judgment and indictment of the dismal failure of 40 years of Sabah development and nation-building should be compulsory reading or knowledge for  every Sabahan so that they could be warned in clear and no uncertain terms why the next general election is so  critical to check the “political locusts” who have reduced Sabah from a wealthy state to the poverty of Kelantan to prevent them from condemning Sabah  to a worse fate in 2020 of being even poorer than Kelantan! 

In other words, the people of Sabah must unite to say a loud and thunderous “No to Political Locusts”  if Malaysia is not to achieve fully developed nation status under Vision 2020 in the year 2020  but with Sabah becoming the poorest state in the federation, even poorer than Kelantan! 

The dismal failure of Sabah in development and nation-building cannot be laid at the door of the Opposition, for in the past nine years, Sabah had been ruled by the Barisan Nasional. 

The return of PBS to the Barisan Nasional marked the “greatest  political unity “ in Sabah politics in 40 years, all under the umbrella of the Barisan Nasional exercising  total monopoly of power in the Sabah state assembly and government,  but Sabahans are entitled to ask the purpose of this  “great unity” as it does not represent “Sabahans Unite” but only “Kataks in Sabah Unite!”

In fact, when Mustapha made the scathing judgment in February this year that Sabah had been reduced from a wealthy state to the same economic league as Kelantan, he was in fact passing judgment on the first  six Chief Ministers under the Barisan Nasional rotation system since 1994 as failures. 

In retrospect, such a failure was unavoidable as the rotation of the post of Chief Minister was dishonest means to an dishonourable end – a cynical vote-catching political gimmicry to capture Sabah state power without any real intention to set an example in Malaysian plural society of equal political  power-sharing whether at the local, state or national level. 

This is why the Sabah Chief Minister rotation-system had worked out so unfairly and inequitably in the past nine years – producing four  UMNO Chief Ministers to represent the Malay community, two Chinese Chief Ministers but only “half” a Chief Minister for the Kadazandusun community, as Tan Sri Bernard Dompok was only Chief Minister for one year and two months! 

Having served its purpose of enabling the Barisan Nasional to recapture Sabah state power, it is unlikely that the Chief Minister rotation system would last long, as evident from increasing UMNO pressures for the discontinuance of the rotation system. 

But could the Barisan Nasional leadership ensure that before the scrapping of the  Chief Minister rotation system, everyone of the three major communities in Sabah would have had a fair and equal opportunity to become Chief Minister for the same total length of time under the proposal.  With Musa Aman as the latest Chief Minister, UMNO would have had three terms of the two-year Chief Ministership.  Would the Kadazandusuns in the Barisan Nasional be assured that they would have three full two-year  terms of Chief Ministership and the Chinese a third term as Chief Minister before the system is scrapped altogether with the post falling into the monopoly hands of UMNO so long as Barisan Nasional is in power? 

PBS had returned to Barisan Nasional in expectation that its leader Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan would be appointed Chief Minister to take up the Kadazandusuan slot.  But such  prospects have receded into the background, when the opportunity for the appointment of a Kadazandusun Chief Minister to make up for only having “half” a Kadazandusuan Chief Minister in the past nine years  had been by-passed. 

These are among the many fundamental issues which the voters of Sabah must address in the impending Sabah state and national parliamentary elections – and it is most sad and even tragic that DAP appears to be the only political party which could address them.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman