Archive for October 7, 2010

There are good leaders and bad leaders in every society, just like good guys and bad guys. That is why I try my best at any opportunity to appreciate and praise the goodness in some people and give credit when a credit is due to some although they are not so good leaders. It is in human nature that those who do good are always remembered with fond memory for a very long time. The bad leaders are cursed in our prayers forever because they harm and change individual or societal development. Those who had suffered in Sabah under Tun Mustapha will curse him forever. And equally those who suffered under various bad leaders in Kuala Lumpur who made terrible decisions for Sabah will be cursed forever.

Anyway, Sabah’s problems in the main include corruption and indiscipline, a disease picked up from UMNO’s  53 years in power even though Sabah joined the Federation only 47 years ago. This disease is like plague and its spreading like wild fire. Almost every Sabahan you meet complains about corrupted politicians and civil servants, even those who are suppose to curb corruption – like the MACC aka ACA, it seems cannot be trusted.

Some politicians and public servants give us illusion, not solution, but mere promises and deceits, and UMNO is the GURU for this. They invent spin to what they are doing or not doing but the people know reality and delusion.

My article today I choose to pick on work of Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah since 2003. Musa Aman will be the longest serving chief minister of Sabah if he completes this full term, which most likely he would when the full term ends in 2013.

Today I want to praise Chief Minister Musa Aman’s initiatives a bit. I’m serious about this. No I’m not joking!

First, Musa Aman’s innovative and sustainable forest management solutions needs praises. Yes. Musa Aman’s work with Yayasan Sabah which is the largest forest concessionaire in Sabah and the way he managed and protected core forest reserves to ensure the responsible management of “working forests” that gives Sabah timber, jobs, sustainable economies, wildlife habitat, fresh water and a stable climate, needs praises. Truly Musa has done a fantastic job here compared with the earlier chief ministers who were only good in cutting down the trees and had absolutely no ideas at all on forest conservation.

A total of some 4.6 million hectares of forest reserves or about 70% of the total Sabah’s landmass is forest. Yayasan Sabah is responsible for the management of approximately 1 million hectares of forest in Borneo, including forests in the Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon, and is the home to the highest biodiversity in Sabah. Musa Aman has actually done some good conservation work here. Need to acknowledge this.

The Danum Valley Conservation Area, the brainchild of Musa Aman, one of the last pristine lowland tropical rainforests which is roughly 80,000 acres of formerly logged forest is home to one of the highest concentrations of orangutans in the world and has clouded leopards, pygmy elephants and over 300 bird species inhabiting in this area. Thanks to Musa Aman,  a deal was made possible between an American group and the Sabah state government to restore and protect this 80,000 acres of badly logged forest. Eco Products Fund a private equity fund which is jointly managed by New Forests Inc. of Washington, D.C. and Equator Environmental, LLC of New York City, join hands with the Government of Sabah for this  purpose. Hence, the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank or Malua BioBank was setup with multimillion dollar investment to restore and protect the roughly 80,000 acres of the formerly logged forest. Nothing like this has ever been done for the biodiversity in tropical rainforests.

Then again last August, another milestone was achieved when Musa Aman set aside another 22,000 hectares, about the size of Penang island, of primary forests for protection in the “HEART” or Heart of Borneo (HOB). This has raised the forest protection figure to 1.2 million hectares, leaving 2.7 million hectares of other forests for commercial use – logging and agriculture. The “HEART” stretches from the north of  Sabah down to the south-west of Borneo, some 85 sq miles. Here are South-East Asia’s last swathes of virgin jungle and it has the tallest rainforests in the world and the largest of many things in the wild; the most endangered plant life and animals such as the orang-utans, sun bears, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros are all here.

So it is a fact that under Musa Aman much is done for forest conservation to keep the rainforests from devastation and the idea to reconnect forests by building wildlife corridors so that animals such as the orang-utans that are driven to extinction may have a better chance of survival in a bigger and better habitat, and this is fantastic.

From forest lets now move to the Sabah’s economy.

It is true that Sabah’s economy was in the doldrums when Musa took over to became Sabah’s 14th Chief Minister. The treasury had a deficit of about RM3 Billion at that time. But after Musa Aman took over the reins of the state government the state treasury was having a surplus of more than RM500 million every year. The state coffers has recovered. Currently, the state reserves stand at about RM3 billion, the highest in Sabah’s history.

I remember, at that time when Musa Aman took over the state there was hardly any money in the treasury and the government could not even pay creditors because the state reserves were down to only RM168 million. It was true that even the state-owned Yayasan Sabah was almost bankrupt and could not even pay salaries and had to release many of the staff on some incentive for early retirement through a scheme VSS (Voluntary Separation Scheme). Today, Yayasan Sabah’s fortune has also changed dramatically with Musa at the helm. Through Musa’s excellent business and financial acumen, he has turnaround Yayasan Sabah by reorganising Yayasan’s many business operations and making many of them highly profitable. Today, even Yayasan Sabah as a group has a reserve of RM3 billion, a far cry from 2003 when it did not even have money for staff salaries.

Despite his excellent socio-economic transformation of Sabah, Musa is still perceived negatively due to his links with some controversial chinese timber tycoons. I have written much about this.

Whatever said and done Musa has brought much infrastructure development to the rural as well as urban areas to eradicate poverty, building low-cost houses for them and giving them land under a communal title to cultivate oil palms and rubber so that the lives of the people will change for the better.

It’s not wrong to say that all the Chief Ministers before Musa Aman were spending the state funds as though there was no tomorrow.The most startling was during Datuk Harris Salleh’s tenure. He was good at building multi-billion-ringgit grandiose projects that brought the state to the brink of bankruptcy. So much so that Sabah did not have the money to even administer Labuan island and he Datuk Harris happily gave away Labuan to the Federal Government without asking for any compensation for the cession.

In constrast, Musa Aman is making money for Sabah through his sound halatuju development framework.

The talk about our Premier Najib removing Musa Aman as chief minister of Sabah and replacing him with Shafie Apdal is going to be disastrous for Sabah if it ever happens. The talk is 150,000 from Southern Philipines all Shafie’s type are waiting to move into Sabah through the east coast if Shafie Apdal is made the Chief Minister of Sabah. This is going to be real bad for Sabah. As it is, there are already close to a million Mykad holding illegals mainly Filipinos and Indonesians and they have outnumbered Sabahans and thanks to Dr Mahathir for this.

Najib should just continue with Musa Aman as Chief Minister as he is doing a good job so far, in spite of all the negativity.

Longest chief minister? Certainly. Clever and canny? Absolutely. Polite? Without doubt. More control than anyone in state politics? No question. Could he change Sabah? Yes. For the better? You judge.

If Sabah gets a crazy Luddite to rule after the next election, who will Sabahans blame? Think.