Sabah, Sarawak aren’t problem children, says Umno

Umno Supreme Council member Abdul Rahman Dahlan believes the next 10 to 20 years is going to be ‘the decade of Borneo’. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Sarawak should not be viewed as Malaysia’s “problematic children” but rather as the nation’s new growth centres, said Umno Supreme Council member Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

Rahman said both states have the means and potential to one day become pillars of the Malaysian economy if the federal government sees Sabah and Sarawak in a positive light.

Most of the time now, he said, problems associated with poverty, and state claims or demands are prominent when people speak of Sabah and Sarawak.

“But this is the new deal by Umno. Sabah Umno will ask for the new government to be helmed by Barisan Nasional (if it wins the next election).

“It should view Sabah and Sarawak differently. Not as problematic children of the nation but as new growth centres.

“We have to change the perception of the federal government so they will look at both states as catalysts for the country’s development,” he said during the Sabah Umno convention at the Umno building here today.

The former Kota Belud MP said once this paradigm shift happens, Putrajaya will then realise they will need to pump in more money to invest in infrastructure and human capital development in both Borneon states.

“It’s only natural, just like what Jakarta is doing. They are looking at Kalimantan as the new growth centre for Indonesia,” he said, referring to the relocation of the Indonesian capital.

“I believe in the next 10 to 20 years, it’s going to be the decade of Borneo.”

He said Sabah should also align its economy to Borneo instead of the peninsula.

Rahman said like Kalimantan, Sabah and Sarawak have an abundance of resources. “There are more millionaires in Kalimantan than any other part of Indonesia.

“If you look at Sabah, we have natural resources. Our cost of production is still low in terms of human capital and we are geographically situated in a better position than the peninsula.

“So, I want the federal government to look at Sabah as full of potential rather than as a problem. It is going to be the asset of the nation.

“When Sabah and Sarawak develop fully, they will carry the Malaysian economy,” he said.

No reason for Sabahans to fear PAS-Umno charter

Rahman said the national unity charter signed by Umno and PAS will not sideline any race or religion. This is despite its primary objective of fighting for the interests of the Malay and Bumiputera communities.

He said this was a golden opportunity for the Malays and Bumiputeras to unite, adding such a chance was rare.

“But it’s clear that Umno and PAS will not mistreat anyone and it is stated in the charter itself that the rights of non-Muslims will be defended, as required under the Malaysian constitution.

“Based on Umno’s track record as the government, as well as PAS (at the state level), we have never mistreated anyone in this country.

“And if the Malays and Bumiputeras, who make up 70% of the majority in the country, feel secure, calm and at peace, it will contribute to the political stability needed by all.

“It is important that the 70% feel like this, that they are cared for by the government,” Rahman said.

As such, he said the Muafakat Nasional (national unity), is relevant in Sabah, which is dominated by a large Bumiputera make-up.

“’National unity’ is a new platform that will have Barisan Nasional, and other political parties in Sabah later, as members,” he said.

While PAS is not as big in Sabah as in the peninsula, he said Umno appreciated its backing and presence in the state under the charter.