Sabah, synonymous with poorest state in Malaysia with million plus illegals and hundreds of thousand more waiting at its doorstep to enter and settle down, today wears a new look. From better health care to improved education to greater security and safety from criminals across the border, Sabah now has everything it needs for it to prosper.

How did this metamorphosis come about?

The able Musa Aman has given Sabah a much needed makeover. Under his charismatic leadership, the Barisan National has pulled up the sagging fortunes of the state.

Musa Aman, who took over as Sabah’s CM in 2003, turned the state’s economy around: it went recorded 6 per cent growth every year between 2007 and 2009, as compared to 3.5 per cent in the prior five years.

After the Sabah landslide win in 2008, a research by a Think-Tank said: “We believe the Sabah election results underscore the upside risk to Malaysia’s growth and development, given what we view as the electorate’s resolve to incentivise politicians who focus on these issues.”

Sabahans think Musa Aman has a comprehensive vision, and is not focusing only on the state’s capital Kota Kinabalu. Even in remote places like Sook and Kalabakan, people are saying development is even.

His landslide win in 2008 has shocked the opposition, but the people of Sabah knew the opposition days were counted. Musa Aman has given them Sabahans the safety they crave for. After coming to power, many illegals were locked up as criminals and thrown out of the state, which made Sabahans, especially the ones near the Philippines waters, feel safe.

Another example of his farsightedness was his donating of more than RM 24 million for Chinese temples, Sikh temples, Hindu temples and churches all over the state which was never done to such a scale by previous chief ministers.

It was not easy for Musa Aman to break the grip of race and religion over Sabahans. Over 15 long years, they had lived with the complex arithmetic of race and social engineering equations imported from Peninsular Malaysia and UMNO. Musa Aman managed to break all myths of race politics but without seeming like a hard leader.

A seasoned and down-to-earth man of simple tastes, Musa Aman, delicately balanced the interests of his party UMNO and the Barisan National. He has managed to carry people along, even in the absence of populist views on job reservations for Sabahans, both Muslims and Non-Muslims.

Did women play a major role in Musa securing a second term? Yes, it did. They went out in hordes to vote for him. By reserving more seats for women in institutions and giving them a role in decision-making at the kampong level, Musa Aman has won the confidence of women in Sabah. His first tenure as CM created an environment, and influenced women to give him their vote.

Has Musa Aman changed the way Sabahans vote? A difficult question to answer, but one thing has changed for sure – the Sabah Natives now want to see development and growth. They want the same lifestyle as people in Peninsular Malaysia, and they refuse to be trapped in the politics of race and religion like in Peninsular Malaysia. Don’t forget that for ages Sabahans have been more open when its comes to race and religion compared with West Malaysians, as, many families in Sabah, including my wife’s own family, have Christians and Muslims and even Taoist as family members. This was not new to Sabah until UMNO and West Malaysian politicians try to change this concept of moderation among the more than 30 ethnic tribes and groups here in Sabah.

Musa Aman’s votes came from all communities, and not just one, a sea change in a state where votes had always been divided on race and religion lines.

Musa Aman managed to do the impossible: he routed Anwar Ibrahim’s Party Keadilan and Yong Teck Lee’s SAPP in the recent Batu Sapi Parlimentary by-election, parties that thought they had Sabahans support.

How did Musa Aman pull this off? The answer is simple. He made development his agenda, and it worked. He was careful not to make the same mistakes as Pairin-PBS did from 1985 to 1994. In fact he learned what not to do from them.

Musa convinced people of the seriousness of his effort and the sincerity of his intent. This is the reason he managed to cut through Sabah’s thick race politics imported from West Malaysia since Mustaffa.

In all this mayhem, there is a lesson for all our leaders: playing the race and religion card is not enough to get voted to power. The ‘rakyat’ does vote for growth and development, and not just for some Ketuanan Malay cause. Besides, the more than 30 ethnic groups in Sabah may have political differences but they all reject attempts to propagate politics of racial superiority like those hardcore UMNO chaps from Peninsular Malaysia.

So, apart from the pride I have for my wife and both my kids as Sabahans, I too have expectations as a Malaysian.

The magic of Sabah be replicated elsewhere.

There is no doubt that Sabah enjoyed the status of the most grim, dismal and dangerous state of Malaysia at one time. Now, speak this to anyone who has been to Sabah recently and he will rectify you. Acting courageously with simple but effective strategies, Musa Aman has indicted recently that the GDP growth rate of Sabah for next year will be close to 7 per cent.

Definitely, change is possible. All States can do the things Sabah has done. And why only Sabah – commendable results have been achieved in Penang under Lim Guan Eng. And Tan Sri Khalid in Selangor has done marvelous job even Tok Guru Nik Aziz has done a fantastic job in Kelantan. Incidentally, the above states were decreed as the black sheeps of the nation. Trends are changing.

Apart from a brave and visionary leader, it is people and the hope they harbour that matters. Hope dispels complacency. No person likes to languish in miserable conditions. People in many other states want things to get better. They have to be given Hope!!

This hope is not delivered by rhetoric, garlands and slogans or just our Premier Najib’s “feel-good” 1Malaysia concept….it’s more than that!

  1. Byron says:

    Well, by looking at the past during Jeffrey and Pairins Ruling, Sabah have their own military service, eductaion and etc and was once the second richest state in malaysia after KL and selangor….. But after UMNO/BN took over after that, for almost 2 decades(i guess), Sabah had become the poorest state in Malaysia? How can u explain that? For sure its corruption. I strongly think that if we are still under Jeffrey’s we will see more develpoment and and progress than the present ruling party in sabah. Its just to ridiculous how from second richest state becoming the poorest state in malaysia? Hmmm. Its not fair dont u thk? So there is no doubt that UMNO/BN are irrelevant to sabah. Topple down this from our sabah.


  2. bei soo lang says:

    The death tango of a newly wed couple in a banquet from borrowed money.
    There was a very poor family in Sabah.Their eldest son was going to get married next month.The parents wanted to give everybody in Sabah the impression that they are very well to do so that the son can have a successful business career.They borrowed money from everywhere with more lies than truth.They borrowed money from relatives,friends,banks,money lenders and loan sharks.On the wedding day they have 100 tables of the best Chinese food with no Any Pow accepted.Every table had shark fins,bird nest,abalone and XOs.It was a beautiful wedding and everybody tango up and down the hall according to the instructions of the best tango dance instructors,But the joy only lasted 5 hrs and after everybody went home.Everybody pretended to be happy but they all knew that the family was dirt poor.The father and son sold fish balls that the mother made in her kampung house for many years.Nobody is foolish enpough to do business with poor people.
    They have to pay the debts quickly.The son was forced into robbery and selling drugs.
    The daughter in law was forced into prostitution and selling drugs.Both of us end up in the death row…in Kota Kinabalu jail..The parents committed suicide.

    I am a management expert selling computer software to all 5 star hotels in Kota Kinabalu ans all Sabah towns.
    I went through all their accounts.Most of them have debts of over one year.They could,nt pay my invoices but I continue to advice them.If they goes into bankruptcy I will not be able to collect a single cent..

    In our country do you know of any DEATH tango projects ?????
    100 story mega tower ??? 50 billion MRT project ??? 100 billion revamp of PKFZ projects..????

    You can all write under my name..
    Name: Bei Soo Lang
    email :


  3. bei soo lang says:

    I came from Kulim,Kedah,
    We have no natural resources,
    But everybody has jobs and food to eat,
    You can come to my computer management software office in KK,
    You can run through my computers,
    You can see thousands of BORN IN SABAH jobless graduates,
    There is no future under the present government,
    We have to change to A NEW SABAH fashioned after a NEW PENANG..
    Corruption free…


  4. bei soo lang says:

    Sabah was much better off under the times of white men,
    Everybody has a full stomach..


  5. Juanita says:

    Sabah is a lot bigger and the number of people are higher than the rest of the country. It will no doubt take longer to develop the state. Not to mention that the previous CM rotation has wasted precious time, now extra efforts are needed in order for us to catch up.


  6. Dunstan says:

    If you want to get rid from the poor line, all you have to do is work hard and shoot for the moon if you miss you’ll land on the stars….Gud Luck !


  7. jangung says:

    Sabah is the poorest claim has been circulated all around the world. In fact, Sabah has the most thing in the whole world. At least I feel that way. CM did a good job on this matter.


  8. perfect says:

    CM has put lots of effort in establishing a stable Sabah. However, some of the people out there are keep punishing him with swords and thorns. This shouldn’t be happened at the first place.


  9. Sinosabah says:

    Ha ha ha , you guys and gals believe what Selva wrote ? Come on, Selva ! How much Mossess pay you a month for this 180* U – Turn article ? Is that the part two you promised ? One thing you fail to mention is why Sabah remains the poorest state in Malaysia ? What are the plan to eradicate poverty ? None of us know except the fact that someone is keep cutting Yayasan Concession forest reserve timber logs every day to accumulate his wealth more than 3 billion us$ in his Hong Kong account.You mentioned in your previous article, right ? Selva ! Be yourself again or else I really pity you for change of soul. …….


  10. tombolo says:

    yup, we must give support to the state government to fight and solve the problem in Sabah.


  11. surandry says:

    That why we must give support to the state government to fight and solve the problem in Sabah. PATI the big issue in Sabah since IMM13..People plays the role to give information for this. Not just say bla…blaa..blaa…but nothing. For the leaders, please be honestly do you work, and make people believe that state government will do the best for Sabah.


  12. RockyMan says:

    dear surandry,
    not until the malayan leaders stop their greed and plunder of sabah


  13. surandry says:

    Sabah will be the develop state soon..we believe it..


  14. rutan says:

    oleh itu, kita kena selesaikan dahulu masalah PATI ini. harap Sabah dpt membangun lagi selepas ini.


  15. rutan says:

    kemiskinan berlaku di Sabah adalah disebabkan wujudnya PATI. tanpa PATI, Sabah takkan menjadi miskin seperti sekarang.


  16. gie says:

    efforts to make Sabah become more develop should continue .


  17. Sophia says:

    Well, thank you Selva for mentioning this up..


  18. Sophia says:

    Well, thank you Selva for mentioning this out.


  19. Juanita says:

    I have to say that there are still plenty of room for improvements.


  20. antap says:

    musa, keep work to develop sabah.


  21. jamil says:

    i congrate Musa for great work..


  22. hamid says:

    some previous CM has very little contribution to Sabah….what Sabah need the most is a CM who can think wise and brave enough to diversify the State’s economy…


  23. eve says:

    i wonder how Sabah without PATI and IC project?


  24. sumiah says:

    i wonder what Selvaraj is up to this time?


  25. sumiah says:

    Think…what will happen to Sabah if Musa is not a CM anymore?


  26. mike says:

    its depend to people to judge..


  27. mike says:

    i believe the state govt as well as the federal govt is on the right path to solve the poverty…however, plans that really effective is a PPRT is not enough…300 ringgit is not enough..


  28. mike says:

    solve the PATI@IMM13 issue first…its the 1st step to be taken to solve the poverty issue..


  29. sarah Jones says:

    Sabah is a nice place to stay as we have a smart C.M who is businessminded.
    He is trying his best to eradicate povery in Sabah esp in rural areas


  30. sarah Jones says:

    yes, I believe Sabahan prefer a leader who is businessmind and make some money for the state. Having the only and the first “wisma Wanita” make all the women proud in Malaysia esp. in Sabah.


  31. CareBear says:

    I agree with the commentator name Martycruz. It’s not easy to solve a poverty problem. It needs a lot of time and funds. I sure hope the government is trying their best to reduce the poverty rate in Sabah.


  32. martycruz says:

    just look how wide the Sabah state is compared with PR states, plus the hilly terrain that will make the development process in these state is too slow. and because of such physical geography, Sabah alone need a lot of time and funds to move forward.


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