Sabah: Fixed Deposit, Small Returns

 The Land Below the Wind i.e Sabah , has for a sizable part of its existence in Malaysia, been the Land Below the Radar for the Barisan Nasional coalition. They’ve shut up all these while because the power base has for the large part remained with Umno.

Read more about Sabah, rich in natural resources, but with the highest number of people living below poverty line,  in this exhaustively researched Wikipedia entry.

I’ve said before in this blog that after the GE 2008, BN owes its hold on federal power (however tenuous) thanks to Sabah and Sarawak, and the Cabinet appointments must reflect this fact, for equitable representation if not sheer gratitude.

The BN coalition won 24 out of 25 Parliament seats, and 58 out of 60 State seats in Sabah. That is almost carte blanche. If these 24 seats went to the PAS/PKR/DAP alliance, the difference would have been razor thin. Can you imagine a ruling the country with BN: Opposition ratio like 116:106? And that is just Sabah.

You would think that a state that had supported Barisan for a long time would be taken care of. But no. The announcement of the Cabinet by Pak Lah last week was highly anticipated, but delivered little in terms of Sabah representation.

And the Sabahans are tired of keeping quiet about it. Read this report from last week.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has reportedly described Sabah as a “fixed deposit” for BN.

Sabah Umno Assistant Secretary Masidi Manjun said yesterday,

“We (Sabah) have been dubbed Barisan’s fixed deposit (bastion). At the moment, we feel that we are not getting enough interest from our fixed deposit. 

“If the interest is not good, people will put it elsewhere,” said Masidi, adding that many people in the state were disappointed with the current representation.

Thinly veiled threat, that. Although Pak Lah named the same number of cabinet ministers as he did in 2004 (three), he upped the number of deputy ministers from two to four.Three of the deputy minister have since quit, including Ghapur Salleh, who left his Natural Resources and Environment posting yesterday.

Some say it is a sign that the Sabah representation in the federal government needs a re-look. What I’ve been reading indicates so much more needs attention in this country

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang talked about the worrying hardcore poverty levels in January this year and asked what Pak Lah was going to do about it.

Mat Tyson said after he was named to the Rural Development portfolio that he was going to tour the country to hear people’s woes. Maybe he should start in Sabah.

The population boom in Sabah is explosive. I could choose to think that Sabahans breed like rabbits. But that would make me an idiot. There is a more sinister reason, as was suggested in this Daily Express story.

Richard Leete of UNDP has some interesting charts to show you the demographical shift as well as other statistics in Sabah. At least 23 % of Sabah’s 3.3 million population lives below poverty line, in 2004. This is 8% down from the 1990 statistics. Eight percent in 14 years. Four more years have passed since than. How much do you think, the poverty levels would have fallen by now?

Maybe the situation wouldn’t be so bad without the “New Sabahans” that got bumiputera status because some Peninsular-based political behemoth wanted supremacy over the Kadazandusuns in Sabah? Read this story and weep. 

There are people in the Peninsular Malaysia who have lived here for more than 50 years, but are still just penduduk tetap. There are lots of people in Sabah who barely even speak Bahasa, and have been here less than 10 years, but are part of the voting population.

Go figure!


One thought on “Sabah: Fixed Deposit, Small Returns

  1. This kind of politics MUST never see the light.
    SO, if this time around we give Sabah 5 Ministers and 4 deputy Minister posts just because they won 24 seats, if in 2013 they won only 1 seat, are they prepared to not get any post? The same goes to arawak or to any state.

    The various posts were offered based on finely agreed concept of power sharing and representations. And it has never been easy to come out with a formula. If this is not respected just because in a particular GE, one state wins more than others, this will lead to mayhem and the coalition will FOREVER HELD TO RANSOM!

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