Archive for August 5, 2017


Do you remember when Yong Teck Lee, Shafie Apdal and Joseph Ambrose Lee were partners in crime, trying to take over the RM30-billion timber wealth of Yayasan Sabah through share-swap, when Yong Teck Lee himself was Sabah chief Minister and Shafie Apdal was Director of Yayasan Sabah?

Well, I do.

The year was 1996, and it was called The ICBS-NBT controversy. It began when North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) was said to have attempted to gain control over Sabah Softwoods Sdn Bhd (SSSB) and Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd (RBSB) involving the selling of 60 per cent equities of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd (ICSB), a subsidiary of the Sabah Foundation. The proposed control over SSSB and RBSB would mean giving away 150,000 acres of Sabah Foundation lands to certain individuals while the taking over of RBSB would mean surrendering 247,000 acres of its timber concession to NBT. NBT had offered below market price for the Sabah Foundation subsidiaries. SSSB was offered RM200 million although 60 per cent of its interest proposed for takeover by NBT was RM765 million. RBSB’s 104,000 hectares of concessions was valued at RM2.5 billion but was only offered RM100 million by NBT. Shafie, who was then Chairman of North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) and Sabah Umno Youth Chief, had attempted to place the shares and equities of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd (ICSB), a subsidiary of Sabah Foundation, in a public listed company.

Like it or not, it was Musa Aman, the then state finance minister, who rejected this share-swap deal, saving Yayasan Sabah from a pending doom.

Obviously for a very long time Shafie Apdal has had ideas of grandeur of being the top dog, for sure, and I see it as envy forming due to Musa’s many achievements which has catapulted Sabah to the top position among the States in Malaysia.

It is wrong to say that Sabah has registered improvement in one or two areas. In fact there is no area in which Sabah has not progressed. Education, law and order, good environmental practices, forest protection, clean water supply, electricity, agriculture, industrial progress, urban development, rural development, exports, tourism, RCI on Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem, increase for oil royalty, revision of State Rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the list goes on – however you look at it, Sabah attracts keen attention in every area, registering surpluses throughout. But Sabah is not satisfied with these achievements . It is not resting on its laurels but is focusing on earning more surpluses. The reason for this attitude is that Sabah does not think only about itself. It thinks for the whole of Malaysia. Sabah is the locomotive engine of Malaysia and continuously contributes to Malaysia’s growth.

When Sabah attained independence in 1963, Malaysia was born. Right from independence in 1963 to 1985, Alliance- Barisan National ruled Sabah. After 1985, Datuk Harris Salleh was defeated, Pairin Kitingan from Party Bersatu Sabah became the Chief Minister. But even at that time Sabah was ruled by the Barisan National until 1986 when PBS pulled out from BN. In 1994, BN wrested control of the power from PBS when Lajim defected from Parti Bersatu Sabah which won the Sabah election, and his action opened a floodgate of defections from PBS and saw the collapse of Pairin’s PBS government. Sakaran Dandai became the first Umno Chief Minister in Sabah in 1994.

In 2003, Musa Aman was appointed chief minister and faced crisis after crisis upon assuming office. First the state treasury was nearly negative, Yayasan Sabah was on the verge of going bust, state agency were negative and the financial situation of the state was in shambles. But Musa Aman had to prudently turned around the mess he inherited. In 2004, he faced assembly elections and captured more seats than in 1999 and became the Chief Minister again. Once more in 2008, he soared with a thumping victory, winning 59 out of the 60 state seats. And for the 2013 elections, Musa rose to the top with a two-thirds majority in the state assembly, thus the title as the longest serving Chief Minister of Sabah. Musa Aman is facing elections again which is expected within the next nine months.

Sabah registered remarkable progress in the last fourteen years of Musa Aman’s rule. Nobody including his opponents can deny this.

Under him, a special report by the state government on the restoration of state rights and devolution of powers under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 has been given to Putrajaya. The state cabinet had put forward its claims for a review of the special federal monetary grants, mandatory every five years under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution. Musa is pushing hard for the restoration of state rights and devolution of powers particularly Sabah’s revenue rights, Sabah’s rights in the Federal Constitution, Malaysia Act and Malaysia Agreement 1963, as well as the Intergovernmental Committee Report.

And in the Auditor-General’s Report for 2016, the financial management of 31 Sabah state ministries, departments and agencies had received an overall “Very Good” rating based on the accountability index. Sabah has even earned praises from Auditor-General for demonstrating sound financial management and for maintaining its record and prudent handling of its finances over the last 12 years. One hundred and six departments and agencies were audited last year and each showed that its financial management was at a very good level. This places Sabah among the best states in Malaysia in terms of accountability and financial management efficiency. This has given Sabah a positive image as it proves that the state has succeeded in managing its resources well, efficiently and in an orderly manner. The auditor-general’s positive assessment should erase the allegations from certain quarters, who always question the state government’s capability and efficiency in managing its finances. In fact, the auditor-general was so impressed with Sabah’s financial management that she wants it to be a role model for other states.

Even Moody International, has certified the Sabah government for efficient and proper budget management for three years running and has given it a triple-A rating for its finances.

Sabah had suffered many a human crises in the past and the lack of good and safe drinking water would be an example of such an issue. Due to this, dry taps were a norm often in the past. In the kampungs especially, women and children had to walk very far to fetch drinking water to their homes. There was also a scarcity of electricity and even the quality of electricity supplied was not up to the mark. Road facilities were not adequate and their quality was also not sound. But under Musa Aman, all these defects faded away in the last ten years. Now there are separate facilities for ground water and drinking water, keeping many a deadly diseases at bay.

Power shortages still happens occasionally throughout Sabah but it has improved tremendously from the past changing the way Sabahans live. Now in most towns electricity is supplied for 24 hours a day. Electricity is supplied for agriculture through a separate feeder. What is even more praiseworthy is that the electricity is available with good quality. No longer do Sabahans purchase stabilizers along with their television or refrigerators.

Sabah has registered remarkable progress in education as well. Native children and girls are attending school and receiving proper education at an increasing number. Sabah’s poverty rate stood at 4.1% as of 2014, down from 23.4% in 2004. For this year alone, the state has allocated RM394.93 million for poverty eradication programmes in its budget and set itself a target of achieving 1% poverty rate by 2020, at the end of the five-year 11th Malaysia Plan.

Even tourism is booming. 2016 was best year for Sabah tourism. Tourists arrival was all time high at 3,427,908 and tourism receipts was a whopping RM7.25billion.

Now you ask: How were all these feats achieved? It is simply Musa Aman’s focus and dedication. After reading the above facts, I think one can understand the reason for Shafie Apdal’s jealousy. Even though Shafie Apdal was MP for Semporna for 4 full terms since 1995, he has done hardly anything to improve the livelihood of the Semporna folks despite receiving a huge budget from his Rural Ministry. His achievements pale into insignificance compared to that of Musa Aman’s.

There are over 3 million people living in Sabah, forming 10% of Malaysian population. Sabah has an area of 73620 sq km. This is 60% of total land surface of Peninsular Malaysia. In oil palm production alone, Sabah’s share is 40%, and Sabah contributes in addition to that 25% in cocoa production, 27% in rubber production, 40% in natural gas, 55% in petroleum, 70% in tiger prawns production about 9000 metric tons, 60% in ginger production and 35% in cabbage production.

Even the Totally Protected Forest (TPAs) – now covers over 1.5 million hectares of the land area or some 22% of Sabah. The government policy has been launched to achieve 30% TPAs by 2025 or 2030 at the latest or over 2.2. million hectares of Sabah. Which state in Malaysia has set aside 22% of TPAs including rich agricultural lands and virgin forests at high opportunity costs? Only Sabah under Musa Aman!

The child-like rants and casual ridicule by the opposition Parti Warisan Sabah — Musa a failed leader, and so on — has only portrayed lack of imagination and vision of the Opposition. Occasional murmurs of a ‘united opposition’ to take on Musa in 2018 does little to challenge his rising stature and appeal, which shows no sign of abating.

I guess now the question ‘What Musa Aman did for Sabah?’ stands well answered. Quite contrary to the skeptics who are of the opinion that, it is Aladdin with his Magic Lamp who is responsible for the Sabah of the present day, the fact remains that the man behind the success story of Sabah is Musa Aman. Musa’s return to power thrice, marked by landslide victories proves beyond doubt the contribution of Musa in creating the exemplary Sabah of today and also underlines the unshakeable faith that the population of Sabah has in Musa Aman.

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