KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) secretary-general Johnny Mositun has urged the federal government to help develop the state without thinking too much about the potential return on investment.
Speaking to FMT, Mositun said Sabah had shown itself capable of developing as rapidly as other states if given the chance.
“Just look at Kota Kinabalu. Fifteen years ago, there was not much development here because there were no funds. But take a look at the city now. It is one of the fastest developing cities in the country.
“All this is due to the investments put into building the infrastructure that helped boost its growth in such a short span of time,” he said.
Mositun was responding to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said the federal government would consider the return on investment put into developing infrastructure in Sabah and Sarawak and whether the investment would be fully utilised by the people.
Mositun said Mahathir seemed to only look for quick returns when an investment by nature would take time to bear fruit.
“Just put the infrastructure in place and you will see that people will come. They will invest here, and with that, the local people will enjoy a better standard of living.
“When the people are happy and content economically, the initial investment will pay for itself.”
Commenting on Mahathir’s promise that he would treat Sabah and Sarawak fairly, Mositun said it was funny that Mahathir was now saying this given what had happened during the 22 years of his first tenure as prime minister, from 1981 to 2003.
He said Mahathir was particularly unfair in his treatment of the Sabah government led by PBS between 1985 and 1994, and by extension, of all Sabahans.
“Whatever we requested from the federal government, he never listened even though for some time we were in the same ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional.
“This caused a deep rift between the state government and the federal government. We wanted to help the people but we were limited in resources.”
Nevertheless, Mositun said Mahathir now had the chance to redeem himself by giving Sabah and Sarawak what they want.
He said the prime minister could begin by returning autonomy to the Bornean states as provided for under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“We are not really demanding. We only want our rights. Surely we can discuss these things amicably now,” he said.