In May last year, Sabahans voted for change because WARISAN promised to take better care of the welfare of Sabahans. However, now they seem to be betraying that mandate.
It has recently surfaced that the Shafie government is favouring Chinese pulp and paper company Lee & Man Paper for the takeover of Sabah Forest Industries (SFI). This goes against what had been previously agreed by the Musa government, that Malaysian company Pelangi Prestasi would take over SFI.
Over the years, SFI has not been performing well and the ailing timber company – one of Malaysia’s largest timber growers and wood processors – was in need of rescuing. It was in Ballupur Industries hands previously – a pulp and paper company from India. Now however, choosing China and Hongkong Lee & Man Paper as SFI’s purchaser could have disastrous consequences.
Now, would we as Sabahans be okay with a Chinese foreign company owning such massive tracts of land in our state? For all we know, this could be the creeping start of Chinese companies slowly expanding into Sabah and buying up our land and displacing ordinary Sabahans.
While Lee & Man is not a direct representative of the Chinese government, it is common for owners of large businesses in China to have strong political links. Lee & Man’s chairman, Lee Man-Chun is no different. He is a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which is a political advisory body in China that also promotes so called “friendship” with other countries on the basis of Chinese socialist values.
What this “friendship on the basis of Chinese socialist values” essentially means is that global Chinese companies like Lee & Man have been given unofficial authority to spread the Chinese agenda throughout the world. This agenda is rooted in China’s dreams to expand their influence globally and Southeast Asia is one of its first targets due to its close proximity.
Especially when it comes to Malaysia, Sabah is crucial to China due to the South China Sea dispute. If the Sabah government sets a precedent of kowtowing to the Chinese by selling SFI to a Chinese company, who’s to say that one day, China won’t come knocking on our doors demanding for a share in Sepanggar port? They have already been eyeing that port due to its strategic and military potential and if Sabah is seen to cosy up on Chinese companies, it only invites more trouble for the state in the future.
On top of that, if Lee & Man do take over SFI, you can expect an influx of workers from China to work in their plants and mills. They are not going to source local talent and think of the local economy and welfare of ordinary Sabahans. This is going to adversely impact the local job market.
Besides that, Lee & Man has a terrible track record of destroying natural resources in places where they operate. Their recent paper mill in Vietnam came under intense criticism for polluting the Mekong Delta which is a crucial lifeblood of farmers and fishermen in the area. Sabah is a haven for natural resources and you can expect Lee & Man to plunder, rape and destroy our resources, and exit after making their money thus leaving ordinary Sabahans empty handed.
Dear leaders of Sabah, do not think that you are bigger than the state. No one is. Sabahans remain united in that we are proud owners of our land under the wind. We will not stand prostituting our beloved land to the evil hands of Chinese companies who are known to plunder resources mercilessly. We prefer a Malaysian company to partner with the Sabah government to develop this land sustainably and grow job opportunity and incomes for us Sabahans.
Chinese companies were Najib’s favorite, and see what happened. Shafie, please do not make the same mistake.
Sabahans will not tolerate such nonsense.