Sabah govt will suffer the consequences of failed commitments

I refer to your report “PBS slams PH, Warisan over ‘broken promises” last November..

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Maximus Ongkili had valid reasons to be upset about the “broken promises” of Pakatan Harapan and Warisan

In his policy speech at the 34th congress in Penampang, he slammed the Warisan and PH governments for breaking their promises and disappointing those who had voted them into power.

This does not augur well for the Warisan government, especially when the Kimanis by-election is just around the corner. As it is, Warisan’s report card is in the red.

This is not surprising because after 18 months in power, the state government has literally done nothing significant to show for. A quick check on the state’s affairs show that there have been more negative sentiments – shortcomings, issues, distrust and loss of confidence – than any positive attributes.

It is not that the government is “not doing anything for the people”. More importantly the government’s priorities are misplaced.

It appears that the government lacks an understanding of the needs of the grassroots and as a result, the state leaders bulldoze their way through project initiatives.

They decide what is good for the people, rather than engage with civil societies and communities. There is literally no community engagement. This is where the Warisan government has failed.

As a result, a broad spectrum of initiatives have not been well-received by the people of Sabah. This includes the Papar Dam project, the revival of the Tanjung Aru Eco-development project, the Kota Kinabalu-Kudat Railway system, unresolved Filipino squatter issues, formulating the issuance of 600,000 Sabah Temporary Passes to illegal immigrants, abolishment of the communal title system, and ignoring court decisions on the Sabah water director issue.

These are significant areas where the Sabah government has failed.

These issues attracted much criticism from various stakeholders – political party leaders, community leaders, civil society and so forth but unfortunately the Sabah government chose to ignore peoples’ concerns and moved ahead with its plans and initiatives anyway.

The lack of engagement and compassion by the state government and its leaders shows their insensitivity towards the people and their needs.

Take for example the Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) issue. It became an issue because the Sabah government interfered and opposed a private sector deal involving the acquisition of the SFI facility by a private company.

The state government should have considered the plight of the 1,500-odd employees as well as the long-term socio-economic benefits of the bio-hub project before it acted to stop the sale, thus resulting in a legal tussle.

What’s worse, Chief Minister Shafie Apdal made promises to employees giving them hope that the matter would be resolved.

But until today, their fate lingers because his intentions were to get a China-based company to take over the plant. A promise to the employees and people of Sipitang that was never kept!

The Sabah government’s weaknesses and shortcomings are due to the lack of an economic model for long term planning.

It must realign its misplaced focus to move forward. It is putting its hopes on China-based companies for investments in the state. How can this be possible when the state itself has not developed any blueprint for strategic investments?

Such a blueprint is needed to guide the state administration on the type of investments and incentives to ensure structured growth.

This will also address unemployment issues which have escalated in recent years.

In a 2018 socio-economic report, the state’s GDP fell to 6.7% in less than a year; recorded its lowest GDP growth at 1.5% and the unemployment rate increased to 5.8% – the highest since 2010. The state is obviously not performing.

Concerned Citizen is an FMT reader.

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