Archive for April, 2012


by Taras Bulba

ANALYSIS Former Sabah state secretary, Simon Sipaun’s Democracy Sabah (Desah) NGO wants to host public debates in the state as part of its efforts to ensure one-to-one contests during the forthcoming 13th General Election “in line with the goal of further entrenching the two-party system in the country”.

Star has been quick to offer to debate all and sundry but so far there have been no takers, according to the party’s deputy chairman Daniel John Jambun.

Still, “just in case” the debates materialize, the party has been busy preparing its material for any face-off in public.

The party, led by Jeffrey Kitingan, agrees in principle with Simon’s idea of one-to-one contests but begs to disagree with the idea of a two-party system.

Instead, the Star-led United Borneo Alliance (UBA) wants a 3rd Force in the Malaysian Parliament. Such a force, according to Star, would be the result of a Borneo-based national political alliance emerging to rival the Peninsular Malaysia-based Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR). The latter, it’s being pointed out, are national political coalitions/alliances as well.

Star reiterates that a Borneo-based national alliance, if not a coalition, as a 3rd Force in the Malaysian Parliament will steer evenly between BN and PR. Alternatively, the 3rd Force will be unique in the sense that initially the bulk of it will not only be nameless, but faceless as well, and working across the political divide forged by BN and PR.

The elements of the 3rd Force are expected to crystallize around Sabah, Sarawak, the Orang Asli, Christians, minorities and fence-sitters in Peninsular Malaysia and the Indian community.

Such a 3rd Force is seen as the best guarantee in Parliament of Sabah, Sarawak rights including autonomy.

No doubt this is an idea whose time has come.

The best analogy that comes to mind to illustrate what is in the best interest of Sabah and Sarawak, muses Daniel, is the approach of the American media on news coverage: everything American, no matter how unimportant to the rest of the world, is important, and must be carried; anything non-American carried must have significant American interest; anything that does not fall into these two categories can still be carried, but only as fillers, provided they are entertaining.

Hence, the observation that it’s more than likely that an item on a man in Kudat, who shinnies up a coconut tree and refuses to come down for ten days, is more than likely to be carried in the American media than any part of Star’s public debate material which has self-determination as the underlying theme.

In short, taking a leaf from the approach in the American media, Sabah and Sarawak interests must come before all else.

Quite obviously, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

Patently, in order to forge this independent approach in perpetuity, the two states in Malaysian Borneo “cannot afford to have our politics held to ransom by local traitors who are more than willing, for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver, to kill each other in order to be proxies and stooges of the parti parti Malaya in Sabah and Sarawak to enslave the rest of us”.

That’s the main campaign line being propagated in Sabah and Sarawak by the United Borneo Front (UBF), a UBA member, during its Borneo Tea Parties from Tawau to Kuching and Kuala Lumpur.

These parti parti Malaya and their local proxies and stooges, according to Daniel, “bribe us with crumbs from the scrap heap. They bribe us with our own money after robbing us blind of our oil and gas and all other revenue sources”.

It’s no great secret why these parties want to grab “our seats in the state assembly and Parliament at our expense” through the politics of divide-and-rule, according to Jeffrey. “They want to further strengthen and entrench internal colonization policies in Sabah and Sarawak.”

“Such policies continue to marginalise and disenfranchise us all,” chips in Daniel. “They reduce our children, grandchildren and the generations unborn to permanent slavery as the only prospect for them in Malaysia.”

Nevertheless, Star is holding out an olive branch at the same time to the parti parti Malaya who want to be in Sabah and Sarawak.

“They must incorporate locally and give full autonomy to the locals,” according to Daniel, “and change their names as well”.

So, it seems that it cannot continue to be politics as usual in Sabah and Sarawak if the UBA has its way.

It can be conceded that the system of party politics has failed in Sabah and Sarawak, as pointed out by Jeffrey, as it has failed in Peninsular Malaysia.

If that’s the case, the country needs more than a regime change.

It needs a system change as propagated by Pakatan Rakyat.

Here, Star appears to be more than on accord with PR.

“But where we differ with Pakatan Rakyat is that unlike them we do not pay lip service on system change,” alleges Daniel. “Pakatan Rakyat is a case of ‘cakap tak serupa is bikin’.”

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s take on a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah is cited as a case in point.

Star’s position is that Anwar was part of the problem of illegal immigrants getting onto the electoral rolls in Sabah. That’s said to be the reason why he’s calling for a National RCI on illegal immigrants instead of one on Sabah.

Star does not see the illegal immigrants in Sabah as an issue per se and points out that it is a worldwide phenomenon especially since globalization.
“Even in the US, there are 13 million illegal immigrants,” notes Daniel.

The issue in Sabah is illegal immigrants being provided with Malaysian personal documents via the backdoor, he continues, “and they go on to enter the electoral rolls, obtain instant Native status and deprive the locals of their opportunities under the Constitution.”

The tainted electoral rolls, fumes Daniel, marginalize and disenfranchise locals.

The bottomline is that Star, as a party, sees itself as unique in all of Borneo and indeed across the South China Sea in Peninsular Malaysia.

The spirit of this can be captured in Star’s proposed vision, mission, objectives, goals and activities which are on the drawing board:

Vision: Sabah and Sarawak are equals of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) in the Federation of Malaysia;

Mission: To reverse Putrajaya’s internal colonization policies in Sabah and Sarawak. (Kalau bukan Kita, Siapa lagi; Kalau bukan sekarang, bila lagi? Ini Kali Lah!)

Objective: To build a 3rd Force in Parliament by forging a Borneo-based national political alliance across the political divide to rival the Peninsular Malaysia-based Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat;

Goals: United Borneo Alliance to go for broke in every parliamentary and state seat in Sabah and Sarawak and Star to contest the 67 3rd Force parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia identified by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi;

Activities: Star to acquire all other political party branches in Sabah and Sarawak in seats which they don’t represent; to engage in public debates; and to step up the Borneo Tea Parties for propaganda purposes, ensure a 100 per cent voter turnout to defeat the illegal immigrants on the electoral rolls and to fill the war chest with public contributions.

All this appears to be no idle boast and follows closely Jeffrey’s recently expressed intention to go for all 26 parliamentary seats in Sabah and Labuan, 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak and 60 state seats in Sabah. He has reiterated this line every opportunity that he gets.

Again, under Star’s 60/26 approach in Sabah, the focus would be on eight main points:

(1) the 13th GE as a Referendum on the parti parti Malaya stealing seats which belong to Sabah/S’wak and thereby further compromising their autonomy;

(2) Restoring the balance of power in Parliament with Peninsular Malaysia having one seat less than two-thirds;

(3) Voters seeing the 13th GE as the first step towards reversing Putrajaya’s internal colonization policies in Sabah/S’wak;

(4) Restoring the autonomy of the two states;

(5) The question of Star being greedy for seats or otherwise “does not arise since cannot be accused of being greedy in one’s own household;

(6) The locals in the parti parti Malaya in Sabah/S’wak are “traitors who are willing to be their proxies, stooges and slaves”;

(7) If the parti parti Malaya want to be in Sabah/S’wak, they must incorporate locally and give full autonomy to the locals and change their names; and finally;

(8) Star while welcoming one-to-one contests, wants a 3-party system in M’sia. Sabah/S’wak must have a Borneo-based national alliance to rival the two Peninsular M’sia based national alliances i.e. BN and PR.

The full cycle comes back again to the 3rd Force in Parliament.

In the aftermath of the 13th GE, it’s being whispered, the 3rd Force – if it comes into its own — will be more likely to favour a BN-led Federal Government in Putrajaya at least for the immediate run.

In that case, the 3rd Force is not expected to participate in the Federal Cabinet but will merely lend support to the BN in Parliament and the state assemblies on an issue-to-issue basis.
Whether the 3rd Force will be willing, in return, to accept other positions in Government remain to be seen.

The 3rd Force does not rule out a Federal Government initiated, formed and led by it in alliance with either BN or PR.

In that case, the 3rd Force is expected to have a credible number of seats in Parliament but nevertheless still much less than the other two main parties.

Fri 27 April, 2012

In a country that is no stranger to sex scandals in politics, the latest flare-up has been one of the strangest of all.

Most notably, it came to broad public attention only because the man at the center of it, Minister of Rural and Regional Development and UMNO Vice President wannabe Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Shafie Apdal, made a plaintive declaration, that there had been no scandal at all.

Shafie, minister in the Barisan National government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, brought the issue into the glare of national attention when he issued a statement on Monday seeking to end “continued and hurtful speculation” prompted by political bloggers concerning his relationship on a alleged affair with actress Zahida Rafik, on whom he was accused of lavishing RM1.5mil over a 4-month period.

I wrote on July 19th 2011 quoting the actress by name, see here Datuk Shafie Apdal Don’t Dream lah To Become Chief Minister of Sabah!

Complicating the story, the fact is, it was Zahida herself who started the commotion when she lodged a police report against her driver for absconding with RM200,000. And the driver to clear himself, the driver then lodged his own report, revealing all details about his occupation, that he was hired by Shafie and told to monitor Zahida’s movements. Then the fireworks started bigtime.


Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, a Pathan-Dusun, is a man hogging the headlines once again these days but for the most bizarre of all reasons. The Suluk Filipinos are after his head as they eye the Chief Minister’s post in a renewed bid. Musa, affectionately known as Moses among his fellow Dusuns, has Foreign Minister Anifah Aman along as well this time for company.

Their critics, Suluk Filipinos and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), allege that Anifah is Musa’s “real nominee” — whatever that means – allegedly in all sorts of shady dealings involving timber and other matters purportedly engineered by his elder brother.

Those who know Anifah will swear that the Kimanis MP is one shrewd operator. He’s strictly scrupulous about the way he arranges his public and private life. Having made his money and tons of it before he went into politics, Anifah has since then stayed out of business and professional dealings which would cast aspersions on his character and his integrity in public service.

So, the critics would appear to be barking up the wrong tree on Anifah. It can be likened to a man kicking his neighbour’s dog over imagined slights by the animal’s owner.

There are those who swear that Anifah must be destroyed along with Musa to minimize any possibility that the younger brother may take up the challenge of being the Chief Minister if the opportunity presents itself. Anifah is getting closer by the day to the Chief Minister’s post by the day as he has since chalked up an enviable record as Foreign Minister.

Aside from Anifah, Pairin is the only other leader who will get Musa’s support as his successor. But Pairin has been Chief Minister before, from 1985 to 1994, and is unlikely to accept his old post even if offered. Besides, Pairin is extremely pleased with Musa’s performance as Chief Minister since he took over the reins of the state government. He works quietly without getting into needless politicking, or like PKR, promising the sun, the moon and the stars in between.

The strategy that the political enemies of the Aman brothers have decided on takes a leaf from the recent woes of Wanita Umno Chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil who was forced to step down as Women’s, Family and Community Development Minister over allegations that her family scammed the Public Treasury of some RM 250 million.

PKR, which followed up the Auditor-General’s Report last year on the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) project run by Shahrizat’s family, has now eagerly accepted an invitation from the Godfather of the Suluk Filipinos to make common cause in Sabah against the Aman brothers.

It’s not surprising that PKR has no qualms about walking on the wild side of politics in Sabah. It’s an open secret in the state that Opposition Leader and de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim was among the chief architects responsible for placing illegal immigrants, mainly drawn from Suluk Filipinos, on the electoral rolls. He was then in the BN Government as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

Anwar’s shady past in Sabah has caught up with him in the present to haunt his future. Most of the Sabah PKR members have fled en masse to the State Reform Party (Star) led by Jeffrey Kitingan who was PKR vice-president until Jan last year.

PKR has since pledged, in an act of political suicide, that illegal immigrants in Sabah would all be given permanent residency (PR) status should the opposition alliance seize the reins of power in the state.

Between the Suluk Filipinos and Anwar/PKR, they are not too happy that Musa has since pledged support for the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah.

Alarm bells rang further when Anifah lashed out publicly not so long ago against attempts by the a special unit at the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya to issue birth certificates and MyKads to 40,000 people in Semporna alone without going through the local Mobile Court system. Anifah doubted that there could be that many people in one district alone without personal Malaysian documents.

Semporna is infested with illegal immigrants, mostly Suluk from the nearby Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.

Anifah’s outburst on Semporna, coming on top of his brother’s public support for the RCI, was the last straw for the Suluk Filipinos. They, led by the Godfather, decided that the Aman brothers would have to go sooner rather than later.

Their “secret weapon” was to recycle an old story on a timberman, one Michael Chia Thien Foh, and allegedly close to Musa, being nabbed with some RM 16 million at one time at Hong Kong Airport. Some media reported RM 17 million.

The story, as it now transpires, is that Chia was not carrying Malaysian or foreign currency on him, albeit in substantial amounts, at that time apart from his credit cards and some petty cash in his wallet. The Hong Kong authorities had apparently jumped the gun, acting on a public tip-off that was later traced to a telephone call which came from a public telephone booth in Semporna, and was left red-faced in the process.

So, this whole story about Micheal Chia getting caught with bag load of foreign currency in Hong Kong Airport is a whole lot of rubbish. It never happened.

The Hong Kong case, if any, has been closed but PKR and Musa’s Suluk Filipino political enemies do not want to cease and desist. They are doggedly flogging the Hong Kong in various recycle versions and liberally dishing them around among the alternative media with known links to PKR and Anwar. These are those who, for want of a better term, are known as the ang pow journalists. They collect cash weekly for their efforts including in being cybertroopers from various moneybags linked to PKR.

A new spin from these ang pow journalists, taking orders from both PKR and the Suluk Filipinos, is that Attorney-General Gani Patail is related to Musa through his wife. Hence, as the spin continues, his reluctance to prosecute the Sabah Chief Minister and his brother “despite the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) having concluded its investigations”.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not the AG who immediately decides on the prosecution of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders suspected of being involved in corruption. The MACC files on such leaders have to be sent to the Prime Minister who in turn will have to return them to the Commission before they are sent to the AG for further action, if any.

In Musa and Anifah’s case, even if there’s an MACC file on both of them, it’s unlikely that it has been sent to Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. Indeed, even if such a file exists and it has been sent to the Prime Minister, it’s highly unlikely that he would be so foolish as to send it back to the MACC for onward transmission to the AG.

This is the system first initiated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The MACC files on Eric Chia of Perwaja Steel and Kasitah Gaddam were under lock and key in Mahathir’s office for years. It was his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aka Pak Lah, who sent these files back to MACC. The rest is history.

Najib, even if there’s a circumstantial case against Musa and Aman, is unlikely to rock his Fixed Deposit state of Sabah just because some Suluk Filipino got too big for his boots and wants to be Chief Minister.

For one, no Suluk Filipino will ever become Chief Minister of Sabah.

The Dusuns in particular — including the Kadazan or urban Dusuns – and Murut would not allow it. That would be the worst imaginable political scenario for them since it would open the floodgates to further influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines in particular.

Mindful that the Dusuns and Muruts through Joseph Pairin Kitingan and the Parti Bersatu Sabah are solidly behind Musa, the Suluk Filipinos recently tried to sponsor KDM Malaysia as an NGO to further split the non-Muslim Natives as a political force to reckon with in the state. Their efforts came to nothing and the NGO is currently on the verge of being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

For another, the Suluk Sabahans and other local Muslims – Dusun, Bajau, Barunai, Irranun, among others – are dead set against a Suluk Filipino taking the reins of the state government.

The stand was made clear by the Suluk Sabahans who have re-grouped under the old United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) in a protest against the disproportionate political role being played in Umno by the Suluk Muslims.

The Suluk Filipinos running amok in Sabah, like other illegal immigrants, should thank their lucky stars that they have not so far been detained and deported to the Philippines and banned forever from entering the state.

If they think that they can cover up their tracks and buy political protection by seizing the Chief Minister’s post, they are sadly mistaken.

Already, local Muslims feel increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised by the continuing influx of the illegal immigrants who go on to enter the electoral rolls and monopolize opportunities which would have otherwise gone to them.

Couldn’t resist this story about Gunter Grass the famous German author, playwright, sculptor and, unquestionably, Germany’s most famous living writer whom I have great respect. I was first introduced to Gunter Grass and his work by my good friend George Lind way-back in the 80’s, and ever since, have always looked forward to discover more about Gunter Grass.

Here goes Gunter Grass…..

During his long literary career, Gunter Grass has been many things. Author, playwright, sculptor and, unquestionably, Germany’s most famous living writer. There is the 1999 Nobel Prize and Mr. Grass’s broader post-war role as the country’s moral conscience — albeit a claim badly undermined in 2006 when it emerged that the teenage Mr. Grass had served in the Waffen SS. But at the ripe old age of 84, Mr. Grass has triggered a furious row with a poem criticising Israel.

Entitled What Must Be Said and published in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, the lyric warns of a looming Israeli aggression against Iran. It argues that Germany should no longer deliver nuclear submarines to Israel that might carry “all-destroying warheads”.
‘My silence’

Mr. Grass also takes aim at Germany’s reluctance to offend Israel — reproaching himself for “my silence” on the subject, and acknowledging that he will inevitably face accusations of anti-semitism.

He muses: “Why do I only speak out now/Aged and with my last drop of ink:/Israel’s nuclear power is endangering/Our already fragile world peace?” He supplies his own apocalyptic answer: it must be said because “tomorrow might be too late”.

Mr. Grass also calls for “unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel’s nuclear facility and Iran’s nuclear facility through an international entity”. Ultimately, he suggests, this would help everybody in this “delusional” region, including the Germans — or “us”, as he puts it.

Hardly surprising, then, that Mr. Grass’s controversial late lyric has provoked indignation. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, led the attack, asserting: “Gunter Grass’s shameful moral equivalence between Israel and Iran … says little about Israel and much about Mr. Grass.” Mr. Netanyahu described Iran as “a regime that denied the Holocaust and threatens to annihilate Israel”. He added: “It is Iran, not Israel, that is a threat to the peace and security of the world.” Mr. Netanyahu’s attack then became more personal: “For six decades, Mr. Grass hid the fact that he had been a member of the Waffen SS.

“So for him to cast the one and only Jewish state as the greatest threat to world peace and to oppose giving Israel the means to defend itself is perhaps not surprising.” The Israeli embassy in Berlin took the format of Mr. Grass’s poem and flung it back at him: “What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder.” It concluded that Mr. Grass’s broadside sprung from Germany’s guilty conscience — “part of the German people’s efforts to come to terms with the past”.
German response

German politicians from both Left and Right have traditionally been supportive of Israel, for obvious historical reasons. Several have criticised Mr. Grass, describing his work as “abominable”, “irritating” and “over the top”. Bild, a paper better known for its topless models, complained of “confused poesie”. And writing in Die Welt, the Jewish writer Henryk Border dubbed Mr. Grass “the prototype of the educated anti-semite”. He added that Mr. Grass was “completely nuts”.

All this forced Mr. Grass to offer his own pained reply. In an interview with North German Radio, the author complained on Friday that the tone of the criticism “didn’t just concentrate on the contents of the poem” but amounted to a scurrilous campaign to say that his reputation “had been damaged for all time”.

Some commentators, however, offered a more convincing critique: that Mr. Grass wasn’t anti-semitic, but simply didn’t know what he was talking about. True, the Nobel Prize winner describes Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “bigmouth”, or “Maulheld”. But otherwise, critics say, he offers a less than convincing analysis of the situation in the Middle East — failing to acknowledge, for example, Iran’s regular threats to wipe Israel out. Instead Mr. Grass raises the unlikely spectre of Israel “annihilating” the Iranian people — using a German verb, ausloschen, which comes dangerously close to evoking the Holocaust.

“The poem is more interesting to Grassologists than to strategic analysts,” the Israeli historian Tom Segev, who has interviewed Mr. Grass, told the Guardian. Mr. Segev called the lyric “rather pathetic”.

He said it was “idiotic” to describe the writer as an anti-semite, but said Mr. Grass would be better served expending his last ink on a different creative project. “He’s a great writer. He’s 84. I hope he uses his last drops to write a good book.” He added that the writer appeared to have “some inner psychological need to be accused wrongly”.
‘A letter to the Editor’

The most interesting commentary came from the Suddeutsche Zeiting, which published the poem — German title Was gesagt werden muss — in a supplement. Mr. Grass had been writing poems since 1955 but his late ones weren’t really poems at all, Thomas Steinfeld observed, and instead resembled pleas, complaints, or angry letters to the Editor. Of one lugubrious chunk he writes witheringly: “The only lyrical things here are the arbitary line breaks.” Interestingly, Mr. Steinfeld suggests that the award of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999 may have contributed to Mr. Grass’s political intervention. The prize transformed Mr. Grass from a national figure — “Germany’s preceptor” — to an unashamedly global one — “a custodian of world politics”. He argues that Mr. Grass is the only winner who feels the urge to comment on global affairs. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has not become a literary—political representative of South America, he notes, nor has JM Coetzee become the voice of South Africa, or Derek Walcott that of the Caribbean. Nor has Mr. Grass, it might be added, written a poem on Greece, a crisis nearer to Germany’s doorstep and wallet.

Mr. Grass last attracted this much attention back in 2006, when he revealed in his autobiography, Peeling the Onion, that he had briefly served as a 17-year-old in the Waffen SS at the end of the Second World War. The admission in itself wasn’t remarkable: many other teenagers of his generation were forced to join the SS as the war entered its chaotic final phase. What irritated was the fact that Mr. Grass had taken so long to admit this — an inexplicable delay for someone who blamed others for their Nazi pasts and was seen to personify national atonement and self-criticism.

For some, this detail means that Mr. Grass forfeited the right to comment on the Jewish state. Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre, described him as “totally compromised” and added: “The tin drum he is banging is not the one of moral conscience but of deep-seated prejudice against the Jewish people.” This is one view.

In fact Mr. Grass’s critical opinions on Israel have surfaced before. In an interview with Spiegel Online in 2001, he described the “appropriation” of Palestinian territory by Israeli settlers as a “criminal activity”, adding: “That not only needs to be stopped — it also needs to be reversed.”
Moral obligation

It is certainly true that Germany’s relationship with Israel is a problematic one, with the Holocaust taught in schools and the issue of historical guilt never far beneath the surface.

According to Constanze Stelzenmuller, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, it is hardly surprising that Germany has a moral obligation to the state of Israel, given the country’s past. “The German government has been very clear about this,” she said. Berlin has already supplied it with three Dolphin submarines, with two more being built, and a sixth in the pipeline.

But, Ms. Stelzenmuller says, Berlin has not been inhibited from criticising Israel, especially on the issue of Israeli settlements, last mentioned by Germany’s Defence Minister two weeks ago. Of Mr. Grass, she said: “There’s always been an anti-Zionist tendency in the European Left, including in the German left. It isn’t pretty. Many modern thinkers on the centre-Left deplore this.”

Amid the criticism, a few voices came forward to defend Mr. Grass — the author, after all, of The Tin Drum, the great German novel of the Second World War and the rise of Nazism. “It’s got to be possible to speak openly without being denounced as an enemy of Israel,” said Klaus Staeck, the president of the Berlin academy of art. He called the “reflexive condemnation” of Mr. Grass as an anti-semite inappropriate, and insisted that Mr. Grass was merely expressing his concern about developments in the Middle East. “A lot of people share this worry,” Mr. Staeck added.
Iran happy

Predictably, Iran warmly welcomed Mr. Grass’s poem. Press TV, Iran’s state-owned English-language satellite channel, hailed it as a literary sensation. “Never before in Germany’s post-war history has a prominent intellectual attacked Israel in such a courageous way,” it said.

“Metaphorically speaking, the poet has launched a deadly lyrical strike against Israel.” The Press TV report also observed: “Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and it has never allowed inspections of its nuclear facilities nor has it joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity.” — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2012

SABAH, once almost synonymous with despondency, has been rising from the ashes of gloom and murkiness. The nearly infamous GDP growth rate of 8 per cent that was termed a miracle more than once is not just where the story begins or ends. The dreadful past that saw this North Borneo state decelerating, deteriorating and degrading is hard to picture vis-à-vis the present Sabah.

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman is increasingly seen as a reformer and renovator with sturdy administrative abilities. Today, the streets of Sabah resemble grace, as opposed to the crumbling hanging bridges and dilapidated highways and streets with no street lights a decade ago. An overwhelming thousands of kilometers of roads, more than hundreds of bridges, and a number of power plants including 12 IPP’s were constructed during Musa Aman’s tenure, including the Kimanis 1.5-Billion-Ringgit gas-fired plant the biggest IPP plant in Sabah – designed for 300MW – to address the power supply issue in the state is in its final stage of construction.

The enhanced transport facilities, especially the highways, have ensured normalcy with the journey time slashed to half. Real estate enjoyed a boom with several building projects taken up. Kota Kinabalu has now adapted itself to modernisation with newer shops and malls opening up and has evolved to become one of the most beautiful city in this parts of the world.

A sharp rise in cement inflow to the state shows the escalation and expansion of construction projects. Agricultural yields have been cited as a major growth factor and oil palm, which is the prime sector in Sabah, has been advantaged a great deal. New Palm oil mills has roped in private investments, and the 4.7-billion-ringgit Ammonia and Urea Plant in Sipitang will provide direct jobs to thousands, something that came as a boon to a state with one of the least employment opportunities. Today, more than 80,000 jobs has been created.

Under Musa Aman, the industrial scenario changed with several big projects being cleared for implementation. The saga has been threaded together with many such incredible deeds that include a massive 35 per cent growth in auto sales, which has a lot to do with the fact that the highways and boulevards are no longer abandoned after 10 pm, and that, in turn, is a direct consequence of terrific administration and governance. The improved law and order situation has been a major reason for this growth tale, and Musa Aman, the man behind it all, vouches for this.

Today no politician can openly challenge the state police; even Akjan the self-proclaimed 33rd Sultan of Sulu, an UMNO man who is strongly connected to both Home Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Minister of Rural and Regional Development Shafie Apdal, was detained and remanded for seven days to facilitate police investigations on him being proclaimed Sulu Sultan in a private ceremony in Kg Likas. No gangsters, Ah Long, don or bandit can roam free after committing a crime and no mafia is given protection by the government. With heavy police patrolling, there is little scope for a criminal or illegals to dodge the claws of legal procedure and penalty. The Federal government has also done its part as it has been quick in filling the enormous number of vacancies in the police force, and what ensued was no surprise. With speedy trials, backlogs were cleared, and within a span of three years, thousands of illegals and criminals were convicted and deported. Bigwigs and VIPs, too, were not spared the customary legal bindings leading to a complete reversal of Sabah’s façade.

Crime rates has also plunged, and the number of kidnappings followed by demand of ransom, which was once thought to be the only vocation in the Eastcoast of Sabah, has plummeted drastically. The improved law and order situation did wonders as investors, convinced about the assurance of safety, have started to invest in Sabah. However, it is not the private sector that is credited with the honour of resurrecting the lost state; it is the state spending that did the job and this year the budget is the highest ever in the history of Sabah 4-Billion-Ringgit and the state having an accumulated reserve of 3-Billion-Ringgit.

During previous tenures, major portions of the allocated funds remained unused as a result of the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities concerned. Tourism plays a part in the economy undoubtedly. The number of tourists has gone up by 13.6% from about 2.5 million in 2010 to almost 2.8 million last year generating RM4.977 billion.

On the other hand, private educational institutions have come up and many unemployed graduates have been given temporary teachers job in schools, colleges and skill training institutions, as part of a major recruitment drive by the government. With changes to notions that were existent in the minds of people regarding Sabah, investors, and not criminals, are finding the state to be the land of prospects. Internet connectivity has improved a lot and internet cafes can be found even in remote areas, mobile service providers have cropped up, so has the pre-paid talk-time and broadband usage reportedly raised heavily. Banking firms are a healthier reality in Sabah today with some banks operating in even in remote areas of Sabah.

The health factor remains dim, despite efforts by the government; so is the poverty rate which remains high because of the presence of high number of illegals from across the border mainly from Southern Philippines, a chief contributor.

There is a need for more private venturing in order for Sabah to curb poverty. One of the jewels in the crown that the reformist Chief Minister wears is the piece of information that the Sabah Development Corridor, launched in 2008, has investment commitments exceeding RM63 billion, of which more than RM16 billion have been realised. Whatever it is, be it the enhanced law and order, improved roads, surging construction activities or the increasing investor faith, architect of revived Sabah Musa Aman needs to be spoken well of. After all, it is not for nothing that Prime Minister Najib showered praises on him.

The economic wonder has not sprung up from nowhere. Massive reorganization was undertaken and implemented. The one thing that Musa Aman propagated with the aim of Sabah’s betterment is ‘discipline’. Now the taxi driver says they are taking home more money since they are commuting passengers even after 10 pm.

It is a clear indication that Musa Aman has satisfied the people, something politicians are here for. There is a lot left to be done for Sabah’s development, along with the one big hurdle Sabah has to tackle — the growing “ILLEGALS with Malaysian Identity Cards” menace which is the Mother of All Problems in Sabah. Musa Aman’s ‘discipline’ would expectantly act as the panacea once again.