KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has challenged the government to provide facts to substantiate the rosy picture it has been painting about the Malaysian economy.
Clement Lee, who heads the SAPP office in Api-Api, noted that many recent speeches by Barisan Nasional leaders, especially those hitting the campaign trail in Sarawak, contained statements about the economy that avoided references to current conditions.
Instead, he said, these politicians would talk about the government “continuing” to boost some sector of the economy, “continuing” with some process that would raise income levels, or “continuing” to facilitate efforts towards some economic goal.
He alleged that such statements were aimed at distracting Malaysians from anxiety over the poor management of the economy.
“In truth,” Lee said, “the world doesn’t seem to be interested in what we are selling these days.”
He noted Malaysia had lagged far behind Indonesia in economic development since the regional financial crisis of the late 1990s. He attributed this to BN’s “unattractive investment policies” and the bureaucratic red tape it had failed to untangle.
Vast and fertile lands
Referring to Sabah, he said the state was one of the top contributors to the national GDP, but that this was due to crude oil and palm oil output by peninsular-based corporations such as IJM, IOI and Felda. This meant that billions of ringgit were being siphoned out of Sabah every year, he added.
“We are not against any non-local companies setting up businesses here, but why do we need them to invest in an industry that our local companies are capable of and eager to develop?”
Lee pointed out that Sabah-based firms represented only 2.2% of companies listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange and asked the government to explain why “the second largest state in Malaysia, which is generously blessed with vast and fertile agriculture lands, is in this position”.
He also urged the state government to address the issue of employment opportunities for Sabahans.
“Due to the lack of industries that can provide steady jobs for professionals and our highly skilled workforce, a large number of Sabahans have migrated to the peninsula, Singapore, Australia, Britain and America,” he said.
“The BN-led government has failed to improve the economy, let alone the standard of living of Sabahans. Sabah has seen its economy dwindle, its standard of living fall and its people become the poorest.
“We are likely to see a continuous downward spiral in the future.”