Anwar will treat Sabah better? History’s not on his side

A recent headline in a local daily screamed “Anwar will treat Sabah better – Rafizi”. Is this an acknowledgement by Rafizi Ramli, who is pushing for Anwar Ibrahim to be the eighth prime minister of Malaysia, that all this while Sabah has been treated very badly by the federal leadership?

While I could read it that way, the truth is that what Rafizi is saying, under no uncertain terms, is this: Dr Mahathir Mohamad, our present prime minister, is not doing enough for Sabah and probably never will.

Before anyone is swayed by Rafizi’s bold promise, let us go back in time to when Anwar was the education minister, finance minister and deputy prime minister, all under the auspices of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

Some of us who belong to the older generation remember him well. The younger generation, some of whom have become PKR representatives, may not be aware of his history. For the benefit of those who choose to believe Rafizi, here’s a gentle reminder.

Anwar, as education minister, instructed that crucifixes be removed from Christian schools that depended largely on funding from the federal government.

I believe Christina Liew, the Sabah PKR head and now deputy chief minister, will not forget that. Neither will I.

MCA president Liow Tiong Lai said the growth of Chinese education was heavily hampered when Anwar was education minister. He did not assist in repealing Section 21 (2) of the Education Act, either.

Anwar also renamed the national language from Bahasa Malaysia to Bahasa Melayu. Can such a leader be “better” for Sabah in the long run since Sabah is a potpourri of various races and religions? Your guess is as good as mine.

As finance minister and deputy prime minister, it was widely believed that he engineered the downfall of the ruling PBS in Sabah after the 1994 state election.

Could we see a repeat performance for the Warisan government? It is conjecture, I admit, but when you read Rafizi’s statement you will note that he says federal funds for rural projects in Sabah never reached the intended targets.

At that time, Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal was the rural and regional development minister.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission hauled Shafie in and detained him prior to GE14. Up to RM1.5 billion had been skimmed from projects under Shafie’s ministry. Is Rafizi, therefore, subtly saying a thing or two?

For what it’s worth, just telling Sabahans that Sabah will be treated better when Anwar becomes prime minister is promising.

It’s nice to hear that Sabah will not be considered one of the 14 states but one of the three founding partners of Malaysia when Anwar is sworn in.

However, it would be much better if you could carry out your promise now and get Sabah the 20% oil royalty which was promised in your election manifesto – a manifesto which PKR was very much a part of.

I believe Sabah can wait for Anwar’s arrival as the next prime minister to enjoy better treatment. What we cannot wait for is the promise of the 20% oil royalty. That would be more meaningful to the state of Sabah than who would be better as prime minister.

Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.