Why would Sabah’s leaders sell-out to China? Likely because a deal with Chinese companies is often accompanied with additional monetary benefits of the illegal kind. The Sabah-China Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) must know this. Yet they are so bent on get China onboard, and the chief minister seems to be playing the same tune.
China is widely known to prey on developing countries by offering to joint invest and provide financial assistance via cheap loans. Then, when the country is unable to repay these loans or support its half of the investment, the Chinese state firm will swoop in and take it for its own.
This is a move known as ‘Debt-trap Diplomacy’ which has seen China capture so many ports and key assets in other countries for its own. The most infamous instance of debt trap diplomacy occurred In Sri Lanka when the Chinese state backed builder took control of the Hambantota port on a 99-year lease when the government struggled to pay interest.
The same thing can happen to Sabah, if the state’s leaders continue to ‘kowtow’ to China. Peninsular Malaysia already learnt its lesson under the ECRL project, which was ‘inflated by over RM21billion!
The Chinese interests in this side of the world is mainly on the South China Sea dispute an area which has immense reservoirs of oil beneath. China claims the entire sea for itself whereas the 6 other claimants – Malaysia included – claim parts of the sea.
Now, imagine if China owns huge parts of Sabah. They will very easily use it as a bargaining chip to make Malaysia back down and resist Chinese influence in the dispute. This situation could very likely happen because the Raymond Lee, the chairman of Lee & Man Paper, has strong political links in China.
Raymond Lee sits on the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which is a political advisory body in China. One of its role is to promote friendship with other countries based on Chinese socialist values. Essentially, this means that companies like Lee & Man Paper is allowed to spread their businesses far and wide and at the same time, spread the agenda of the Chinese government.
Why stop at the South China Sea? This could one day lead to China demanding Sepanggar port as they did before to install a military base there. Already in 2017, a Chinese submarine was allowed to dock at the port despite protests from certain people. Similar instances have occurred in Pakistan and the African country of Djibouti where China first comes in with investments and development, but finally ends up building a naval base there.
Selling Sabah Forest Industries to a Chinese company is the first step towards Sabah losing its sovereignty. And China will not stop there. For as long as we have weak leaders in Sabah who care for their own pockets and are willing to screw Sabahans over, our sovereignty is in a state of perpetual danger.
SABAH FOREST ALLIANCE