Sabah Has No Direction, No Thanks to its Leadership

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Since coming into power 17 months ago, the Sabah’s chief minister, Shafie Apdal and his cabinet ministers have performed poorly and have failed to meet peoples’ expectations. There have been no social and economic reforms; no socio-economic projects and Sabahans continue to face challenges in the wake of poor economic growth and increasing unemployment.

These ‘shortcomings’ are measurable through various indicators. It only goes to show that the Warisan administration is not capable and has failed to understand the needs of the people of Sabah. This is worrying.

Does Shafie really care about the welfare and well-being of Sabahans? He is fond of making forward-looking statements to influence people and make them temporarily happy. He unfortunately lacks the aptitude to follow through with his plans.

Perhaps, he is only biased towards his Bajau-Suluk ancestral roots. His recently launched campaign, “prosper thy neighbor”, which requires Sabahans and Malaysians to help improve the living standards of southern Philippines. His rationale, with better living standards (in Philippinees), there would be less crime and entry of these foreigners into Sabah. Really?!

Shafie should do better than this. Leave all the foreign immigrant matters to the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) to handle. Shafie should be more concerned about economic and social development in the state. He should be focused on reducing unemployment, which could lead to social ills and crimes. Shafie is not focused.    

The CM should be more business savvy. He should organize state-wide investment campaigns for local and Malaysian entrepreneurs to invest in Sabah. Local business entrepreneurs would better understand the socio, economic and cultural aspects and needs of Sabahans. Don’t get entangled with debt-related issues with China investors.  

Being business savvy means, Shafie Apdal should not be dependent on the annual oil royalties to administer the state.  For instance, 38.45% or RM1.6billion of the state’s 2019 budget is from oil royalties! Are you going to be dependent on oil royalties forever? What happens when the wells go dry one day?

Although the oil royalty and 40% revenue payment from the Federal government can be substantial, Shafie should not be dependent on these unsustainable sources of funds. The chief minister must put serious thought into ensuring consistent revenue growth and development of Sabah through sustainable means. This is lacking in the Sabah administration.   

The people of Sabah should also be aware of what is happening in the state. Can a CM like Shafie Apdal behave with integrity and be entrusted to do things sincerely?

It was rather shocking to hear that the leadership had approved a RM98 million unsecured Sabah Development Bank (SDB) loan to a private timber firm, which is under receivership! How can the Sabah’s CM/finance minister or SDB give consent for a huge loan to a private company that is currently in default of another bank loan? Perhaps, the federal regulators and authorities should look into either verifying or nullifying the matter.   

The Warisan government must adopt proper protocols and implement prudent financial management practices. In the interest of corporate governance, accountability and transparency, the Sabah government must embrace ethical practices to ensure monies are appropriately spent on socio-economic development projects for the benefit of the people of Sabah and not on crony projects.

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