KOTA KINABALU: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Sabah is set to benefit immensely from its oil and gas sector, dismissing claims that it is Malaysia’s poorest state.
Instead, the prime minister, who is currently visiting Sabah, said Perlis and Kedah were the poorest states.
“Sabah is going to become the richest state in the whole country once the deepwater oil (sector) yields its products,” the PPBM chairman told reporters at a luncheon with local party leaders here.
When asked about the absence of goodies for the two Bornean states in his Malaysia Day speech in Kuching last night, Mahathir said they have to look at other states as well.
“The goodies come together with all the rest, because we want to ensure there is no big disparity between each state.
“Now, Sabah and Sarawak are actually much richer than many of the states in the peninsula,” he said.
He added that the two states have an abundance of land that can be utilised.
“We want to renew our policy on agriculture, modern agriculture, which can ensure that people in the rural areas can also become rich.
“That is what I was saying last night: I didn’t say specifically, but it’s about land. Sabah and Sarawak have got land,” he said, adding that the states need to develop the technology to develop this land.
When asked if Sabah would need funds to do so, he said the country is burdened with the debts incurred by the previous government.
“We have a RM1 trillion debt,” he said. “If we don’t pay, then we will be bankrupt.
“Much of our revenue is used to pay the debts by (former prime minister) Najib Razak. That’s the legacy of Najib.
“We are short of funds and have to spend smart. We have to look at our priorities. We give money to the higher priorities. The rest we might have to reduce.”