KOTA KINABALU: The State Reform Party (Star) is no longer amused by “the gross exaggerations and inaccuracies” continually being peddled by the ruling Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) in Sabah in the run-up to the forthcoming 13th General Election.
The latest statement from Umno which has irked the Borneo-based national party is one from Chief Minister Musa Aman. The Sabah leader claimed on Tues that the opposition, unlike BN, cannot offer the right medicine for Sabah. He claimed “numerous achievements” in the state under the BN.
“If the Peninsular Malaysia-based Umno and BN have the right formula for Sabah, why was the state singled out by the World Bank at the end of 2010 as the poorest state in Malaysia?” asked Star vice chairman Dr Felix Chong in a press statement. “Umno and BN should stop telling tall tales to the people.”
Star’s premise, according to Chong, is that the cure for Sabah’s mounting economic woes lies in reversing Putrajaya’s internal colonization policies in the state.
“Money, or rather the lack of it, is at the root of Sabah’s poverty,” said Chong. “Putrajaya is taking away all our money just like what the British did during the colonial days. That’s why Sabah is poor.”
As an example, he cited Petronas and the Federal Government siphoning away 95 per cent of the oil and gas revenue from the inner waters, 100 per cent from the outer outers and almost all other revenue.
Other revenue alone collected last year by the Federal Government in Sabah amounted to nearly RM 40 billion, he added. “Also, the Peninsular Malaysia-owned gaming companies in Sabah and Sarawak are taking away billions every year.”
“In return, of this year’s National Budget of nearly RM 200 billion, Sabah and Sarawak have been allocated only RM 4 billion each,” pointed out Chong. “We don’t know how much of the RM 4 billion has been released to Sabah.”
He queried why the Federal Government is funding the development of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) at the expense of the people of Sabah and Sarawak, the latter the 2nd poorest state in Malaysia according to the World Bank.
He queried the media including the alternative media in Peninsular Malaysia often blocking the local opposition’s right of reply to the numerous statements from the government side. This gives the impression, said Chong, that the local opposition is unable to rebut the government’s statements.
The Peninsular Malaysia-based parties operating in Sabah and Sarawak, continued Chong, were not about helping the people of the two states. They are here to steal our states in the respective state assemblies and Parliament so that they can get their hands on our Budget for their own self-serving ends, he claimed. “They want to use our Budget to get contracts for themselves to hand out to Peninsular Malaysia-based companies.”
The bottomline, stressed Chong, is that Sabah and Sarawak need to have a greater say in Parliament through local parties.
He called for “as a first cure” the restoration of the balance of power in Parliament with Peninsular Malaysia having at the most one seat less than two-thirds while Sabah/Sarawak at the very minimum have one seat more than one-third of the seats. This was provided for under the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, said Chong, “which has been observed by the Federal Government more often than not in the breach.”
“Restoring the balance in Parliament coupled with Peninsular Malaysia-based parties staying out of Sabah and Sarawak will be the right medicine to help us overcome our grinding poverty, ignorance and disease,” said Chong.
The Chief Minister of Sabah, vowed Chong, must also be appointed by the people of Sabah, the state assembly and the Governor in accordance with the state constitution.
Earlier, Musa in his statement at a Wanita BN gathering advised the people not be influenced or confused by the opposition’s propaganda barrage.
He was particularly scathing in his criticisms of the Democratic Action Party (Dap), which reportedly has bright prospects in Chinese seats in Sabah, and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) which is aligned to it in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) along with Pas.
The Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp), a mosquito local party which broke away from the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in 1994, has since agreed to support PR under a PR Plus arrangement.
Star has expressed willingness to debate both local parties and Peninsular Malaysia-based parties, across both sides of the political divide, on all issues but so far only the Dap has responded and only grudgingly it has been reported.