Thursday, 15 April 2010

Is Sabah folks enjoying development under Najib ?

It is so nice to read that Sabah folks are enjoying development under Najib (Bernama report). As a Sabahan I find this report as another insult to the intelligence of Sabahans.
It is reported that the government has spent RM30 million for upgrading village roads and rural schools in Kota Belud. They have also implemented an agriculture project for the same area. A visit by DAP leaders to Kota belud in February 2010 showed a different view all together. The road to one nice school near Kota Belud has tons of dust. Eight hundred students were suffering and those walking to school find themselves engulfed with dust. They were teased as “orang putih” due to their white hairs.
The so-called agriculture project is also a multi-million ringgit project which is supposed to make Kota Belud the rice bowl of Sabah. Sadly, the visit revealed the opposite. The drainage is not in place and the sudden heavy rain caused a huge flood destroying thousands of smallholder padi land. The government “Jelapang Padi” project is only good on the huge billboard.

Picture shows the “Jelapang Padi” of Kota Belud. Poor drainage is the main problem facing the padi project in Kota Belud. The government said millions have been spent for the project but there is nothing tangible to see. 

Any report about t he development in Sabah must have a wider angle. A good and glaring example is the construction of a sport stadium in Kota Belud.  Here, the billboard proudly indicates that the completion date was 28th February 2009 but sadly, as of 16th August 2009 the building appeared abandoned.

 This picture was taken on 16.08.09.

When discussing about development in a fishing village, we need to check on the housing of the fishermen. Many are living in poor condition. Fishing villages are more confined to the coastal areas and islands. Those in islands have no water and electricity supply. They survived on rain water and underground water and if they are nearby the mainland they will fill their containers with clean water from the wet markets. Some fishing villages are lucky to have their own gen sets. Others are donated by political parties or NGOs. The solar-power lights for their jetties are only good for decoration. How long will they last?
The life of fishermen revolves around the sea, rivers and the towns where they sell their catch. Their catch is usually sent to the wet markets by boats. Ice is more important than gold. Roads are rarely used unless they are able to purchase a 4WD. As far as it stands at the moment, there is no proper housing for fishermen under the government “housing for everyone” program.

Picture shows an advertisement from a GLC. Are these houses meant for fishermen?

Picture shows a typical fishing village.

In Penampang for example, the government has excised a huge padi land for its centralised sewerage plant. It is located strategically along the Penampang by-pass surrounded by padi lands and high-cost housing estates. It appears that the government place food security second in priority over waste discharge. Do we really need such a system? What the government should have done is to include in the development plan for all housing estates a comprehensive waste management system. In this sense, every housing developer must construct a standard aseptic tank where the effluent will be discharged to a monsoon drain. The government should therefore put in place a reliable monsoon drain for this purpose.
Picture shows the sewerage plant that is constructed in the middle of a prime padi land, surrounded by expensive housing estates in the Penampang district.
It is extremely difficult to understand how the present development in Sabah as claimed by former rotational Chief Minister Datuk Salleh Said Keruak can place our economy on a more stable position. The logging industry is so active along the Keningau-Kalabakan road. Only a handful of people are benefiting from the logging industry. This timber economy will never put our economy on a more stable position. Lest we forget, the forestland which provides eco-system services that are important and vital for our survival is compromised. As the largest producer of crude oil and gas and with a huge oil reserve Sabah should be more prudent when harvesting its timber and forest products. The billions of ringgit from oil and gas could have been placed in a fixed deposit and this country would be living and developing on its interest. In fact we do not need federal allocation and be subjected to their whim and fancy.

The so-called Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) is at present only good on paper. Can the government provide a breakdown in the spending of the billions of ringgit supposed to be channelled to Sabah by the Federal government? In the SDC, is Sabah going to be any better in terms of sustainable development or is it just a ploy to utilise our oil money for development which will not be of any use to the Sabah in the long run?

Malaysians in Sabah are more concerned about security. Thus, Sabah’s development must address the influx of illegal immigrants and how they are in possession of the Mycards. There must be a commission of enquiry to investigate this glaring problem. It has affected the welfare and security of the people of Sabah. The crime rate is staggering high. They illegal immigrants or PTI are responsible for the establishment of many squatter colonies. The most prominent one is in Pulau Gaya just a stone throw from Kota Kinabalu.

Picture shows the island of Pulau Gaya adjacent to Kota Kinabalu been populated by illegal squatters mainly the PTI (Pendatang Tanpa Izin).

The burning of the Sabah flags in Lahad Datu by a group of people claiming to be the “people” of the Sultan of Sulu in 2009 must be taken seriously. This daring exhibition of allegiance to the Sultan of Sulu who is claiming Sabah in our soil is an eye opener for all Malaysians.

What happen to all the high powered “task forces” that were established to look into this problem including one that is chaired by the Prime Minister?

Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about the extraordinary high population growth rate. Sabah is one of the States with the highest population growth. According to the 9th MP, Sabah registered a population growth of 3.1% (8th MP) and 2.9% (9th MP). For Sarawak it was 2.8% (8th MP) and 2.4% (9th MP). The average Malaysian population growth was 2.5% (8th MP) and 2.3% (9th MP).

In INDEP’s population history of Malaysia, Sabah’s population in 1931 was 270,233 while Sarawak was 600,000. In 2000, Sabah’s population has overtaken Sarawak by 2,449,389 versus 2,012,616. In 1971-1975 the Sabah population growth was 6.3%, 1976-1980 (4.4%), 1980-1991 (5.6%) and 1991-1995 (5.5%). The population increase in Sabah has been attributed to the influx of refugees from the Southern Philippines and plantation workers from Indonesia. There are reports that many of them have acquired legal papers through dubious means and are now in the electoral roll. Besides the biased carving of the electoral boundaries after UMNO took power in Sabah, the “new” voters have helped the BN government in holding to political power in Sabah. These are the FD that PM Najib is talking about.

 Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about the high cost of living. It is sad to learn that the price of goods in sabah is more dearer than in Semananjung Malaysia. The unnecessary extra charges that are levied on goods coming from Peninasular Malaysia have driven the prices to an unnecessary higher cost. The increase in fuel price triggered the increase in the prices of commodities. There was a justification but as the fuel price returns to the former price, the prices of commodities did not reciprocate. The main sector been hit hard on this is the rural people who do not have a steady income. Thus, the rural folks are more likely to liken the BN government to “Barang Naik” government.

Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about the health sector. No doubt the BN government has been active in building huge hospitals in smaller districts like Lahad Datu, Sipitang, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Tuaran. The sizes of these hospitals are impressive but sadly they are understaffed. There are not enough medical doctors and personnel to man the facility. The closure of Kota Kinabalu Queen Elizabeth Hospital has made medical care even more critical. Patients are reported to be moved from one hospital to another because there is no bed or due to the absent of expertise or equipment of that particular hospital. Sadly, a district like Penampang a suburb of Kota Kinabalu with a population of more than 200000 does not even have a hospital. The presence of a large number of illegal immigrants in Sabah is taxing the health system at the expense of the people of Sabah.

Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about the standard of education and tertiary centres. Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) was a “carrot” of the BN government to garner support from the local people. After much pressure, Kuala Lumpur reluctantly appointed a Sabahan as Vice Chancellor. Even today there are more non-Sabahans enrolled in UMS. The teaching staff are also mainly from Semananjung Malaysia.

The government should have considered a full-pledge University of Agriculture in Sabah taking into consideration the strength of the State in terms of agriculture. For all purpose and intent, the government should also build more colleges, vocational and technical training schools to prepare the youth for the job markets. While it is the government’s duty to create jobs, the skill learned from the training schools will give the Sabah youth an edge in the job market anywhere in the world. The Sabah government should be ashamed to learn of the many Sabahans without jobs, homes and depending on free meals from the Church in West Malaysia.

Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about religious freedom. The controversial of the use of the word “Allah” has a lasting impact on the Christians in Sabah. The “Batu Sumpah” erected at the Keningau district office compound has on it three promises for the people of the Interior in exchange for allegiance to the federation of Malaysia. One of them is freedom of religion. When the government started banning the use of the word “Allah” and the confiscation of religious tapes and books, the government has already forgotten the promises on the “Batu Sumpah”. The fact that the federal government is now allowing East Malaysians to use the word “Allah” and not in West Malaysia shows the “selectivity” of the government in dealing with such an important issue. The court has allowed the Christians to use the word “Allah” but the Federal government is appealing against the court decision.

Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about the slow “borneanisation” of the public service. While most of the 20 points or safeguards when North Borneo decided to form the federation of Malaysia have been made redundant, the point on getting Sabahans to fill up the civil service is moving on snail pace. The federal agencies are still headed by officers from West Malaysia. There are reports that even the drivers, janitors and security guards are recruited from West Malaysia. Other federal agencies such as FELDA, FELCRA and FAMA are almost 100% staff by West Malaysians.

Malaysians in Sabah are concerned about the infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water and drainage. Sabah roads and highways are the most dangerous. They are riddled with pot holes, depressions, landslips and lack of proper markings. The electricity supply is erratic with high power interruptions. In some areas there are pipes but no water. The drainage is extremely poor or nonexistence leading to flash floods whenever there is moderate rainfall.

 What development are we talking about and to be proud of. One issue that stands out in Sabah is poverty. In the 9th Malaysia Plan, Sabah registered the highest number of poor people in Malaysia. Sabah has 23% poverty rate (2004). In terms of abject poverty, Sabah registered 6.5%, again the highest in Malaysia. The rate of abject poverty in West Malaysia was 3.1% (1977) to 1.2% (2005), Sabah was 2.9% (1977) to 6.5% (2005) while Sarawak was 0.4% (1977) to 1.1% (2005). This figure on poverty for Sabah is unacceptable for a State that is producing the highest amount of crude oil, with the largest crude oil reserve and the largest producer of oil palm.

Dr. Edwin Bosi
Sabah DAP Publicity Secretary
Last Updated (Tuesday, 13 April 2010 09:09)