KOTA KINABALU, SABAH – It is extremely ironic for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to say that Sabah and Sarawak could progress at a faster rate if the leaders are ‘less greed’ because in reality, the two states lagged behind during his tenure as Prime Minister for 22 years.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan pointed out that since the 93-year-old Pakatan Harapan Chairman left office, Sabah and Sarawak had progressed by leaps and bounds.
The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) President also took Mahathir to task for his comments about administrative issues and that if the Federal and State governments were concerned, they would upgrade the infrastructure of both the states.
Has he not heard of the Pan Borneo Highway?, asked Pairin.
According to him the Sabah Stretch of the highway alone will cost almost RM13 billion (RM12.86 billion), covering a distance of 730km from Sindumin all the way to Tawau.
“What did Mahathir give us when he was Prime Minister? Pittance compared to what we are getting now. He is in no position to talk about giving us better infrastructure. As Prime ,Minister of 22 years, he did not do it. He is going to start giving at 93?
“As we near the halfway mark of the 11th Malaysia Plan, nearly RM15 billion has been allocated for Sabah by the Federal government – and this year alone the sum stands at RM3.87 billion,” said the Infrastructure Development minister.
To compare – under the 7th Malaysia Plan (1996-2000) when Mahathir was prime minister RM6.93 billion was allocated. Under the 8th MP (RM13.2b), 9th MP (RM17.7b) and 10th MP (RM21.96b).
Understandably, these are electoral promises from Mahathir, now that the 14th General Election is near but it begs the question of his sincerity as these were pledges he failed to deliver in the 22-years he served as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, he said.
Mahathir said Sabah and Sarawak need people who are not selfish to overcome problems. If he cared enough to look at the many new road links, resettlements, people with land they own, villages with electricity power and clean water supply in Sabah – through developments that came after his time as the Prime Minister – he would probably know who was and still is selfish, opined Pairin.
Was Mahathir ever concerned about the rural people of Sabah and Sarawak ? To demonstrate the contrasting promise and actual delivery – the Rural Development Ministry was allocated with a sum of RM107.8 million under the 7th Malaysia Plan from 1996 to 2000 and RM1.42 billion under the 8th MP.
Under the present administration led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak – RM10.2 billion were allocated between 2011 and this year under the 10th and 11th MP (which is at its halfway mark and more can be expected), Pairin pointed out.
There have also been greater empowerment to local civil servants of the two States, now that eroded rights sealed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 are returned – something that was ignored during Mahathir’s tenure, he stressed.
Najib, according to Pairin, is the only leader who understood and recognized the sentiments of the people over the rights enshrined in the MA63 that he even agreed to the formation of the National Steering Committee meeting on the Devolution of Powers to Sabah and Sarawak that is co-chaired by Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and Datuk Seri nancy Shukri.
The Prime Minister had even openly declared and assured any rights that were either deliberately or inadvertently taken from Sabah and Sarawak will be duly restored and returned, said Pairin.
“Under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, one of his first deed when he took over as the Prime Minister in 2009 was to declare Malaysia Day a national public holiday, giving due recognition to the formation of Malaysia on September 16 in 1963. It also gave the people of Sabah and Sarawak a stronger sense of belonging to the nation.
“It was also Najib who was bold enough to call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Immigrants in Sabah which resulted in a damning report about Project IC and the many other alleged misdeeds of the past administration under Mahathir.
“Mahathir had also played the musical chair-like Chief Minister’s Rotation System to suit his fancy and tune when he was the Prime Minister. Is that the trait of a leader who is concerned about the people of Sabah and the desire for more progress?,” asked Pairin