The general election must be near. Political leaders have begun to make overly attractive but unlikely promises. With W Malaysia in a political shambles, it is expected that no party/coalition will or can emerge as the clear winner. Sabah and Sarawak support will likely determine the outcome of which party/coalition will rule Malaysia over the next 5 years. Not surprisingly, then, “new ideas” and “rosy promises” are being floated to grieve voters in Sabah and Sarawak, most notably some unreal/unrealistic/surrealistic suggestions about Sabah’s and Sarawak’s positions.
Best opportunity yet for political leaders to position Sabah for faster MA63 implementation.
2. Brief summary of these ideas/promises.
Everything in order. The Sabahans should take note of all promises made in Sabah since 1963 by the political parties and political leaders of West Malaysia. There is enough material for these empty promises to overwhelm many graduate students. Second, more amazing promises will emerge as the 15th GE approaches. Political leaders have no qualms about making promises they don’t want to keep. One senior political leader even had the audacity to say his government in Pakatan is falling behind on campaign promises because his coalition failed to count on victory.
What are these new promises? Broadly they are: [a] Upgrading the status of Sabah and Sarawak suggesting that the 2 eastern Malaysian states signed a bad deal in 1963. [b] Create a new Malaysia agreement. This is ridiculous as MA63 is not just an ordinary agreement like an SNP. It’s about building a nation. [c] Ridiculous that Malaysia can reach zero core poverty by 2025. Sabah has too many zero income cases!
On corruption, a senior opposition leader has said that Malaysian E politicians should not point the finger at Malaysian W politicians because of the massive corruption in Malaysia. E-Malaysians have the right to hold W-Malaysian leaders accountable because: [a] They have all the powers needed to root out corruption but have failed to do so. The Sultan of Perak said it – corruption is everywhere. [b] West Malaysia politicians have committed the largest corruptions, in the hundreds and billions of RM. The fight against corruption must come from the heads of the federal government.
3. These policy statements should be viewed in the context of the lack of funds for economic development.
Anyone with basic intelligence will know [a] They do not negotiate a new agreement if the other party has not fulfilled the most important parts of the existing agreement. This is exactly the case with MA63. [b] For the same reason, do not believe that the other party can offer you any improvement in the agreement.
Here’s what I think of those statements. [a] The politician’s goal in speaking about the above points is to only grieve the voters of Sabahan. The story of broken promises should have made a good teacher, but the Sabahans were stupid to believe them in all previous elections. Must stop being used! [b] Politicians who make these statements have not justified their statements rationally. [c] They have not provided an assessment of the progress or lack thereof in the ongoing implementation of the MA63 constitutional amendments. [d] There is no talk of the quality or the lack, the speed or the lack of speed in the ongoing implementation.
4. GE15 is conducted in turbulent times.
GE15 is inevitable. His timing matters only to politicians. The current legislative period ends in June next year, an extension of 6 months is possible. Good for the Sabahans to assess the current global and national scenario before judiciously casting their votes in the maximum interest of Sabah.
The world we live in now is chaotic. The Russia-Ukraine war has had many unexpected negative geopolitical and economic consequences. The US and EU sanctions recklessly believed that confiscating Russia’s US dollar reserves would collapse or implode the Russian economy. Not even close. Instead of this [a] It has caused record high inflation in Europe and America in 40 years, [b] The EU can fall apart. [c] Has caused a change of government in the EU, the last one will be Italy. [d] Poor and emerging countries face shortages of food, staples like fertilizers. [e] Fuel costs have shot through the roof. [f] Accelerating the emergence of a multipolar global system in the form of SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and de-dollarisation. [g] Much to the disappointment and embarrassment of the US and EU, Russia is enjoying larger revenues from a smaller volume of commodity exports, particularly oil and gas.
No idea when the Russia/Ukraine war will end. Nor will we know how long or how bad the current global economic disruption will last.
Malaysia will face numerous headwinds in GE15. Sabah is particularly at risk. Our inflation rate is high. We don’t produce enough food. In addition, the political uncertainties in West Malaysia are not helping. Thank Almighty the political stability in Sabah and Sarawak right now is like the proverbial “beacons of hope” in Malaysia.
Given the prevailing circumstances, Sabah must exercise extreme judgment in order for us to continue with the economic development that Hajiji has given Sabah thus far.
5. What has Hajiji achieved so far?
Sabah’s journey to an equal partnership is long, very long and difficult. Hajiji started it with a laudable strategy that is bearing results.
[a] Basically, the beginning of the realignment of federal relations from taiko/submissive to the emergence of some form of partnership has begun. The MA63 constitutional changes were made in December 2021. The “partnership” is not yet perfect. It’s a work in progress, but it’s going in the right direction. At least there is mutual respect.
[b] Hajiji has said in his Malaysia Day speech and on many occasions that Sabah will continue to demand that our rights be respected, particularly in relation to Sabah’s 40% share of the revenue. No other CM has said it before. [c] Some significant concrete results with Petronas that were impossible for more than 30 years. These are huge  sales tax on petroleum products.  Commercial Cooperation Agreement.  LNG plant in SOGIT.  Sabah Gas Master Plan. Bung Moktar and Dr. Jeffry have also fought hard for Sabah’s rights.
[d] Hajiji has announced Sabah’s own model of a second home for foreigners.
[e] dr Jeffry has regained the authority to issue deep sea fishing licenses.
[f] Sabah will set up the Sabah Energy Commission, which means Sabah will regulate our generation of electricity.
[f] There is much more investment promotion cooperation between Sabah and Federal resulting in significant inflow to Sabah. So far, Sabah is the third largest recipient state.
[g] Significant improvement of medical facilities and staff, especially with a larger number of specialists and nurses.
[h] Most importantly, Hajiji’s Sabahan’s First Policy takes root and brings benefits to Sabah’s youth in ITP, Oil & Gas and Manufacturing. In the future there will be many more employment and business opportunities for Sabahans as further investments are made.
6. Sabah’s best insurance for a meaningful MA 1/3 partnership is to achieve strong economy and unity.
We shouldn’t listen to political clairvoyants in the upcoming GE15. Recognize the very difficult and uncertain times that exist that are likely to get worse. Much worse if China decides to retake Taiwan, as Biden has vowed to defend. The political circus in West Malaysia is unlikely to die down after GE15 and could spiral out of control. Sabahans must have clear eyes. Sabah’s best insurance is to strengthen and nurture our own internal economy and unity that Hajiji is building. These will allow Sabah to move forward with confidence.
Not vulnerable to Divide and Conquer exploits. The worst mistake Sabahans can make is going back to the old ways of begging for every single RM from the federal government. That’s Hajiji’s greatest achievement – he’s done away with that self-deprecating attitude. He built the Sabah/State relationship based on Sabah’s equal rights. With our resources, and by becoming a fair 1/3 partner of Malaysia, we shouldn’t have to beg. All Sabah wants is [a] our claims are 1/3 of Malaysia, [b] Our sales share of 40%. [c] a fair share of revenues, annual budgets, fair share of representation in all decision-making and implementation processes in important national economic and financial policies. No more, no less.
A good example is the annual annual budget. In addition to submitting begging proposals to the federal Treasury, Sabah should and must be represented at the same table to decide “who gets what,” “spend where,” and “spend how.” This is what the 1/3 partnership is all about. As an equal partner, Sabah has to decide on money, finance and economic policy at the national level.