KOTA KINABALU, SABAH – The Parti Solidariti Tanahairku (STAR) viewed that whatever has been trumpeted as Sabah’s achievement and progress is nothing but hollow rhetoric to hoodwink Sabahans to vote BN in PRU-14 and did not reflect the true reality.
STAR’s president, Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, said this in a terse response to news report that Sabah had supposedly enjoyed economic progress, making it one of the more advanced states in Malaysia as a result of economic programs planned and implemented by Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
“While some progress have been made and trumpeted the harsh reality is that while Sabah is the 5th biggest contributor to the Malaysian economy, it has remained the poorest State with its infrastructure and development lagging the Klang Valley by at least 40 years,” retorted the Bingkor assemblyman.
“Despite the hollow rhetoric, what is certain is that Sabah’s progress and development has been severely stunted by the failure of chief minister Musa and the Sabah government to pursue Sabah’s 40% net entitlement despite it being raised repeatedly in the State Assembly since 2013.”
Dr. Jeffrey said it is an undisputed fact that the 40% of the net revenue collected in Sabah is an entitlement enshrined under Article 112(c) and Part IV of the 10th Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
“Unfortunately for the people of Sabah, the state government under Musa’s helm made no sound nor took any action to pursue the 40% until after the Memorandum on Sabah’s Revenue Rights under the Federal Constitution was presented to PM Najib on 15 July 2015 and after the formation of the Cabinet Steering Committee in late 2016,” he said. “If not for the Memorandum and the promise by Najib to set up a Special Committee to study the matter and promising to return the 40% entitlement if it was provided in the Federal Constitution, the Sabah government would not have acted at all.
“The State government just dragged its feet, continuing to be totally subservient to their political masters in Putrajaya and had no guts to pursue the matter. The 40% of net entitlement is worth at least RM20 billion annually and did not yet include the arrears due to Sabah since 1974, which would have accumulated to probably a whooping RM100 billion by now.
“Imagine if the Sabah government had enough courage and resolve to get back even half of the RM20 billion. Sabah would have received RM50 billion from 2013 until 2017 alone,” Dr. Jeffrey added.
“Imagine what RM50 billion would have contributed to Sabah’s development in that period and what welfare and benefits Sabahans would have enjoyed, and what immeasurable economy trickle-down effects and economic spin-offs that could have been generated from the RM50 billion!”.
He lamented that due to the failure of Musa and his Sabah government, Sabah has remained the poorest in the nation, Sabahans have to endure and suffer lack of basic amenities and rely on river water, gravity-fed hill water, rainwater and gravel and dirt roads.
“Even the sick had to be transported by buffalo along mud tracks to seek medical treatment,” he said. “Due to the federal government getting to illegally utilise the Sabah’s 40 entitlement of RM100 billion from 2013 to 2017, Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley now has a RM100 billion mass rapid transit (MRT) system!
“For the forthcoming PRU-14, Sabahans should seriously reconsider voting for the dishonest BN government or a Pakatan Harapan-Warisan government, both of which are bent on controlling Sabah and taking at least 80% of Sabah’s oil and gas. With either one of them in power, Sabah will surely continue to remain the poorest state in Malaysia. It’s time the people seriously consider choosing the Gabungan Sabah coalition to take over the government as it’s committed to fight for the rightful return of the long denied 40% entitlement and other revenue entitlements to develop Sabah.
“With such a huge revenue not robbed away from and returned to the people of Sabah, we can seen a new Sabah, a truly vibrant economy connected directly to international trading partners and not be subject to the selfish schemes of the federal government,” Dr Jeffrey concluded.