There’s something obscene about the opposition commentariat’s obsession with the Chief Minister of Sabah, Musa Aman. That obsession has nothing to do with the awe-inspiring work he has done over the past decade, converting Sabah into the most developed State of Malaysia with spectacular achievements in many fields. Sabah today is a model economy that generates both envy and aspiration among the people of other States. Rare, if any, is the State Government that does not ask itself: If Sabah can achieve the seemingly impossible, why can’t we?
True, Sabah’s amazing success story has been made possible, in large measure, by hardworking Sabahans. What stifled it was bad governance, absence of leadership and rampant corruption, which has proved to be the undoing of the best of intentions of many a Government, both at the Centre and in the States. This is where Musa Aman’s contribution has made a qualitative difference, recasting the role of Government: He has demonstrated that maximum governance is possible with minimum Government.
To achieve that goal, he adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption, reduced the role of the Government to that of a facilitator and placed a premium on the hallmark of quality in everything that was done to create the right conditions. Hence, roads and highways were built conforming to global standards, emphasis was laid on creating infrastructure that would cater not only to current and emerging demands but also needs of the future, and social development was given its due prominence on the Government’s ‘To Do’ list.
Meanwhile, Musa Aman did what any visionary leaders are supposed to do: He kept on coming up with ideas that were at once big and creative. He placed the people at the centre of his projects, making them the ultimate beneficiaries. If investors were encouraged to invest their money in Sabah, it was not merely to enable them to reap profits but also create wealth through income for the everyday Sabahan.
But there’s more to the Sabah story than just securing investments. Just as Musa Aman has encouraged investors to look at Sabah as their preferred destination, he has also encouraged the people of Sabah to make the maximum use of the opportunities created by such investment. He has constantly played up Sabah’s ‘pride’, which in turn has instilled a tremendous sense of self-confidence in all Sabahans. Barack Hussein Obama’s winning slogan, “Yes, we can”, could well have been Sabah’s contribution to the 2008 US presidential campaign.
Yet, none of this and more has ever found mention in the non-stop outpouring of criticism and rebuke directed at Musa Aman by the opposition commentariat which just can’t see anything right, leave alone good, about the Government he heads and its enviable governance record. The criticism and rebuke could have been ignored but for the fact that electronic media is controlled by those who love to hate Musa Aman and a sustained campaign of calumny does tend to influence opinion, especially among those who have little or no knowledge of what transpired back in the 80’s and 90’s, in which they were still in infancy I’m sure.
As Musa Aman said during the State Legislative Assembly sitting in response to Luyang assemblywoman Melania Chia’s queries regarding the alleged hundreds of million of ringgits in his Swiss bank accounts, ” You can ask me… you can even repeat it outside the house. I won’t sue you because I am not worried at all. To me there is no such thing. You think if I am wrong I would be standing here. I am open anytime to be investigated. I am ready to face it anytime.” They were indeed true. Any other Chief Minister would have broken-down, but not Musa Aman, who chose to tell the truth.
Then when the story about Micheal Chia got detained at the HK International Airport in August 2008 with S$16 million (RM40 million) in cash on him came out, many blogs played this to the maximum and said Micheal Chai was an ally of Musa Aman and that the money belonged to Musa Aman.
Musa Aman has got no time for a young punk like Micheal Chai, who doesn’t even have formal school education. Michael Chai is a drunkard, a gambler, a womaniser and the only thing he has is a rich father who happens to own a stevedoring company and a friend call Nazri Aziz. Besides, Micheal Chai was never caught in the Hong Kong International Airport over currency trafficking and laundering with S$16 million cash in Singapore currency in his luggage before boarding a flight to Kuala Lumpur as I have written in the past, see here. In fact the money was found in a hotel room in Hong Kong were Micheal Chai was staying.
Even the Prime Minister last month (Oct. 19) denied that there was any attempt to smuggle the RM40 million “donation for Sabah UMNO” into the country. It was Musa Aman’s foes, self-appointed, self-righteous activists, who instigated a slew of cases seeking to implicate him in some way or the other with Micheal Chia’s RM40 million scandal. With more than a little help from a conniving electronic media, they almost succeeded in their mission to tar him. But as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz told Parliament last month that the cash Micheal Chia was carrying was not meant for Musa personally but was a donation to Sabah Umno. That statement in Parliament by the Minister last month shows, the truth does prevail over jaundiced lies.
I personally believe that there was huge propaganda against Musa Aman, and in a case where there is a criminal investigation, propaganda can never be hard evidence. I do believe that there wasn’t a shred of evidence against him. It was all propaganda, a fact which is now coming to be established even further.
The Leader of Party Bersatu Sabah outside the Sabah State Assembly recently, was eloquent in his response, describing Musa Aman’s ‘investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Hong Kong’ and trialed by the electronic media as a trial by fire, from which he had emerged unscathed. The PBS’s senior leader, reiterated the indisputable fact that “never in the history of this country has a leader been a victim of a sustained misinformation campaign”. Sadly, neither the MACC’s and ICAC’s verdict nor the elaboration by Najib Tun Razak what is known and established will serve to halt the ‘sustained misinformation campaign’, the peddling of ‘propaganda as evidence’ by those who are not impressed by the long and arduous investigation to which Musa Aman has been subjected. In fact in a recent statement that he released yesterday, Musa Aman expresses regret over the fact that the ” Opposition is not willing to accept the truth. What more do they want? They are trying again to use the same complaint to gain political mileage. They are rehashing the same old story.” Musa also says that he is “entitled to conclude that the Opposition is political bankrupt” and to “to treat their recent rehashed allegation with the contempt it so richly deserves”, an opinion that I stand behind.
Many Malaysians, do not necessarily subscribe to the constant barrage of accusations against Musa Aman by the raucous voices of those stuck in the past and for whom manufactured lies is a useful tool to mobilise rakyats opinion.
This is where Musa Aman’s innovation can make a difference. He has ensured, as he says, “peace, unity, social harmony and brotherhood”, which have collectively given “further impetus to the process of development”. That peace, unity, social harmony and brotherhood now need to be made into permanent features. It’s not easy for a person who has been vilified for so long to say this, but Musa Aman has, reaching out to all Malaysians: “No state, society or individual can claim to be perfect. I am grateful to all those who pointed out my genuine mistakes during last 10 years. I seek your blessings to serve the people of Sabah with devotion free from all human shortcomings.”
At present, I can say that no one could have been more honest, sincere and human about the State of Sabah. No one could have reflected courage and dedication in a more convincing manner. No one apart from Musa Aman.