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Empty boasts, failed promises fuel anger in rural Sabah

 | September 5, 2012

Thus far nothing has come of the 10th Malaysia Plan for Sabah announced by Prime Minister Najib on June 10, 2010.

KOTA KINABALU: The Barisan Nasional’s dismal failure from inception to provide Sabah with vital infrastructure and development is enough reason for Sabahans to seek a change at the top, said opposition candidate Joseph Lakai.

“Look at in the interior like in Sook and Nabawan in the Pensiangan parliamentary constituency … there is still has no hospital, police station and fire and rescue department base,” he said to illustrate the expectations of those living in those areas.

It’s these glaring infrastructural limitations that include unpaved roads, lack of piped water supply as well as power supply and telecommunications that has prompted him to take on the powerful BN coalition government.

Frustrated with the minuscule amount of development taking place in his state in comparison to what he has seen in the peninsula, the pilot by training has decided enough is enough and its time for him to join others to make a difference.

His political vehicle of choice is the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and he is now the opposition party’s Liawan division vice-chairman.

He said that while the ruling coalition has boasted that Sabah has been granted the second highest allocation under the 10th Malaysia Plan (RMK10) unveiled by Prime Minister Najib Razak on June 10, 2010, nothing has come of it.

“Where are the projects spelled out in the development plan? Where has the money allocated gone?

“There is little sign of the ‘mega projects’ … there are too many to name that the federal and state government leaders promised the people of Sabah would be implemented during the five years plan,” he said.

He remembers that during the 1994 election when the BN took over Sabah and when Najib, the then Defence Minister, visited Nabawan and announced that a hospital would be built.

“Till today the only structure standing in the proposed site is a signboard about the project,” Lakai said pointing out that the country is already into the second year of the Rancangan Malaysa Ke10 (RMK10).

‘No future’

He added that before Najib read his RMK10 speech, Sabah Tourism Minister Masidi Manjun in an interview had noted that the state needed more funds for basic infrastructure projects like paved roads that would allow farmers to bring out their produce to the market as quickly as possible.

“The rural farmers are now making a living by selling rebung and pucuk ubi by the road side…there is no future.

“Now when their children get a bit older, they run away to Kota Kinabalu and stay in the squatter areas or those who have a bit of money board AirAsia and sleep in the streets in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

“(It is) a very apt name – the RMK10 as Rancangan Malaya Ke10. Najib is not talking about Malaysia he is just talking only about Malaya, specifically Klang Valley and Selangor,” he said.

Lakai, nicknamed the ‘flying politician’, added that after the plan was announced Sabah ministers were so happy they were patting each other’s back on a job well done.

The excuse for the any delay in implementing any plan, he said, would be bureaucracy. To get to the money, they have to prepare reports which go through the bureaucratic process from state level up to the federal level.

“That could take the Sabah delivery system at least three years to prepare and send by which time everything has to change because by then the plan is undergoing its mid-term review.

“It is a good way of delaying the projects which means that money for the projects will be delayed as well.

“Then they will say there is the land acquisition issue, weather issue and all the various other issues delaying the project.

“The executing agencies will be blamed for these delays. By that time a new plan has to be ready.

“The projects identified will then become continuation projects. It may even go through the process again as new project for the next five years,” he said.

Billions spent, but not on Sabah

Lakai also warned that other controversial mega projects that had been shelved after grassroots protests could still be forced through.

One of them, he said, is the discontinued coal-fired powered plant which he believes “is going to be shoved down our throat, like it or not. There is RM7 billion allocated for it.”

Sarawak’s Aluminium Smelter Plant could be used as an example of this profligacy, he said, pointing out that the Bakun Dam project had not even been completed and yet to provide sufficient power for it.

“Most of the big projects are in Malaya … billions of ringgit are being spent on them.

“Najib can spend billions on railway tracks, roads, property development and human capital (40%) which is for training like MLVK, but he doesn’t have money to standardise the prices of foodstuffs between Sabah and Malaya.

“This means that Najib is allowing things like the cabotage policy to squeeze Sabah dry and has little concern for the welfare of the people here.”

He said Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan seems to only apply to Malaya.


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