The Sabah outcome of the March 2008 Elections has confirmed the pre-poll conventional wisdom about Musa Aman’s victory based on his successes on the development and law-and-order fronts. But what makes the chief minister stand out from his other equally successful political colleagues is the inclusive nature of his politics.
As a result, although the others have also led Barisan National to comfortable victories in their states, it is only Musa Aman who won 59 seats out of the 60 state seats contested which is nearly 98.34% success. While Abdul Taib Mahmud of Sarawak carries the millstone of nepotism, cronyism and corruption round his neck, Ali Rustam the other chief minister of little Malacca is seen as being too obsessed with his own Malay “supremacist” and is seemingly still tainted when he was accused of condoning ‘money politics’ whereby he allowed his agent to distribute money to Umno delegates to vote for him in the UMNO elections for the deputy president’s post and was barred from contesting in the Umno elections, and the other chief minister Koh Tsu Koon of Penang lost his own seat and lost the state to Pakatan Rakyat headed by DAP. In contrast, the new star of Sabah has emerged with a remarkably clean record on all these counts.
The entire focus of Musa Aman’s attention was on the states economy, building roads, bridges, deporting and jailing illegals and arresting and charging anti-social elements and encouraging the education of native girls and native boys by providing them with school uniforms, shoes, and computers and empowering women- the six areas (out of many) which earlier chief ministers had neglected. Not surprisingly, there has been a massive response to his appeal to the voters to support the “doer”.
The outcome, therefore, marks the beginning of a new phase in Sabah politics, where the long-prevailing excessive emphasis on race/religion imported from Kuala Lumpur has been diluted – at least partly. True, Musa Aman also played the native card by focusing on the extreme poor natives.
Aware that he might not be able to make much inroads into the main base comprising KDMs, who make up about 25 per cent of the population, Musa Aman a half-Dusun turned to Pairin the “Huguan Siou” of the KDMs’ and so on.
Notwithstanding this partisan manipulation of natives, there is little doubt that it is still the development projects, political stability and the improvement in law and order which are primarily responsible for Musa Aman’s success.
What may have also helped him is his modesty. Take the case of the Batu Sapi Parliamentary elections, it is not impossible that he consciously eschewed Yong Teck Lee’s flamboyance, realising that such bluff and bluster can have a negative impact in the absence of achievement. He also remained aloof from the controversial postures of the kind which the president of SAPP, Yong Teck Lee, took on issues such as the “Sabah for Sabahan” an idea probably borrowed from my good friend Dr Jeffery Kitingan.
It is as the “doer”, who wants to restore Sabah’s reputation as one of the best-run states, that Musa Aman evidently wants to be remembered. The voters had given a thumbs-up to his ambition.
Sabah government has been identified to be the best example of good governance and the Chief Minister of the state, Musa Aman as being the “key driver” of economic growth and development within the state. In other words, Musa Aman has been appreciated for being an effective chief minister.
Perhaps Malaysia’s best example of effective governance and impressive development is found in Sabah, where Musa Aman has streamlined economic processes, removing red tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth.
Musa Aman has overseen heavy investment in modern roads, bridges and power infrastructure and jobs for Sabahans. He has even reiterated his call repeatedly to the national oil company Petronas to provide adequate opportunities to eligible Sabahans to participate directly in the oil and gas industry. He is monitoring and cooperating with Petronas on how to distribute projects from the oil company to local contractors in Sabah and he is serious to ensure Sabahans would not be merely bystanders to the development that is taking place in the state. Not many chief ministers in the past while in position dare to sound the national oil company Petronas, even though Petronas takes much more than give back to the state and its people.
Despite Sabah being branded the poorest state in Malaysia, Musa Aman had performed well as chief minister by improving the overall economic conditions with an annual growth of more than 8 per cent in recent years.