Musa Aman has the distinction of being the longest serving Chief Minister of the state of Sabah. He firstly assumed this responsibility in March 27th 2003. Thereafter, he has had sweeping victories in two successive Assembly Elections held in 2004 and March 2008. He has also won successive byelections for Barisan National, example, the Batu Sapi Parliamentary elections where Taiko Yong Teck Lee the President of SAPP was trashed badly and so was PKR’s Ansari Abdullah. The victory of 2008 12th General Elections where he won 59 seats out of the total 60 seats is a reaffirmation of the people’s faith in his leadership, statesmanship and governance which he displayed as Chief Minister from 2003.
Widely regarded as a youthful and energetic, innovative and a determined leader, he has successfully communicated his vision to 3 million people of Sabah and has been able to instill a sense of confidence in what they have and a hope for a golden tomorrow. An astute politician, a skilled orator and a deft negotiator, Musa Aman has earned the love and affection of the people from kampongs, towns and city alike which makes him a rare leader of the masses. When he became the Chief Minister of Sabah for the first time in March 27th 2003, he already had experience in banking and business earlier, besides, he was Minister of Finance since March 27, 2001 in Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat’s cabinet. His utmost commitment and dedication have rendered him as an outstanding administrator and after being elected for the 2nd term, in March 2008, as chief minister, the Sabah Chinese Chamber of Commerce had a lot of good words to say about Musa Aman and the prudent ways he handle the state’s finance, a rare comment from Chinese business community.
When the Musa government was sworn-in in 2003, the economy of Sabah was reeling under several adverse trends. The growth in various sectors was stagnant, major parts of the state were facing water scarcity and power shortage, infrastructure was in shambles and investments had slowed down. Moreover, the mood of the people was despondent. The biggest challenge was to resurrect the spirits and the economy, revive the livelihoods and to construct the infrastructure. However Musa Aman, a master strategist enriched by national and international exposure and experience, decided to take the bull by its horns and turned an adversity into an opportunity. He re-oriented and re-organized government’s administrative structure, embarked upon a massive exercise for construction of infrastructure, recreation of the business environment and rejuvenation of the traditional entrepreneurial spirit of Sabah, putting Sabah back on the road to progress and prosperity.
Even when the construction of infrastructure was going on, Musa Aman did not lose sight of the bigger picture. He emphasized on all-inclusive and uniform development of all communities and districts. In the very first year of his tenure, he came out with an integrated strategy for overall development of the State which I call the EIGHT PILLARS:
1) Rural Development and Poverty Eradication
2) Quality and coverage in Education
3) Development of Human Resources
4) Power of energy Resources
5) Good Forest and Environmental Governance
6) Sustainable Development
7) Good Governance
8) Security and well being of people.
Sabah has registered a GDP growth of over 7% over past five years which is one of the highest growth rate among all the states in Malaysia. The efforts of Musa’s government have resulted into metamorphosis of a revenue deficit state into a revenue surplus state with reserves of 2.32 billion ringgit . Last year alone, the state’s export value stood at RM49.4 billion with trade surplus of RM16.6 billion.
Musa Aman mooted a model of development through people’s participation. USP of his development model has been a quantum leap (think big) and change right from the roots (no cosmetic changes). Sabah recorded the biggest gross output in agriculture compared to other states in the country. Agriculture production including short term and long term crops have quadrupled. Sabah produced RM13.21 billion or 24.7 per cent of the total of RM53.45 billion agricultural output in Malaysia last year. Sabah leads in energy production. Sabah has been able to supply uninterrupted three phase round the clock electricity to most of the kampongs in the state. The rural economy is now vibrant owing to this and some kampongs have turned into centers of production.
Working in harmony with the Federal Ministries, Musa’s Government has brought qualitative change in health services and health infrastructure to ensure a healthy mother and child in the very remote areas of Sabah. Focus on cent per cent enrollment of children through campaigns and resultant drooping drop out rates have been able to reverse the trend of high illiteracy rate from Sabah. The focus is putting Sabah at par with the developed regions in Human Development Index and work towards the achieving Millenium Development Goals declared by the UN. To ensure all round, all inclusive and uniform development, comprehensive and well conceived packages like indigenous people welfare in remote areas, development of coastal dwellers, upliftment of urban poor are under implementation.
Musa believes in the fact that good infrastructure is the driver of economic development. He therefore, paid utmost attention on physical and social infrastructure and involved private sector in their development. The rapid and qualitative development of ports, roads, bridges, LNG terminals, water distribution networks and other infrastructure facilities are being implemented in a big scale. Setting up of Kimanis RM1.5bil gas-fired plant a 300MW power plant to address the power supply issue in the state and water grid are exemplary achievements in infrastructure. Musa Aman has also created excellent infrastructure at tourist places. Urban sector has been enlivened by up gradation of civic amenities, state of art sports complexs, parks i.e the Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru and emphasis on cleanliness and greening. The well conceived, meticulously planned and professionally organized Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) the one stop authority to drive Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) have put Sabah as a preferred investment destination among global investors. SDC has managed to secure a planned investment of RM112 billion as at the end of June 2012. SDC have not only attracted investments worth billions of USD but also created huge employment opportunities in the state. Its logical fall out is skill development for various class of people on a massive scale.
Even in the forest sector Musa has done a wonderful job as he has been pursuing for good forest and environmental governance in the interest of future generations to come. Recently, The Sabah Forestry Department had decided to re-gazette 183,000 hectares of Class 2 Commercial Forests into Class 1 Protection Forests to expand the expanse of totally protected forests in the state. This “bold” upward reclassification exercise involves principally lowland forest ecosystem in Ulu Segama and Gunung Rara Forest Reserves, in pursuance of Musa’s decision. This exercise shall mean that Danum Valley on its eastern fringes will be buffered by totally protected forests and in particular, the biologically rich Ulu Segama Forest Reserve (127,890 hectares) can no longer be logged now or in the future because of legislative protection.
At the same time, Northern Gunung Rara (55,000 hectares), which forms a vital wildlife buffer from Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon to Danum Valley, will also be accorded full protection. Both areas, although logged over, are important wildlife habitats and are homes to iconic species such as orang-utan, pygmy elephants and the Bornean clouded leopard. Class 1 Protection Forests are given strict protection primarily for safeguarding water sheds, maintenance of stability of essential climatic and environmental factors, in addition to biodiversity conservation. Under the Forest Enactment 1968 (Sabah), the law forbids any form of conversion such as conversion into oil palm plantations or timber exploitation in a Class 1 Forest. After the gazettement of the Protection Forest Reserves in 1984, a total of 44 were gazetted as class 1 Forests, including the controversial Kukusan Hill Forest Reserve, Tawau, which was declassified to Class 2 in 2003. The last Class 1 gazettement was Maliau Basin Forest Reserve in 1997.
The latest decision by Musa will increase the area under total protection to about 1,300,000 hectares or some 17.5 per cent of Sabah’s total land area, exceeding the IUCN standard of 10 percent. Musa’s model of good governance is being applauded within the country and beyond. The way he has won the hearts of people of Sabah and his popularity at the national level shows that ‘Good governance is also good politics’.