Archive for the ‘Sabah Tourism Board’ Category

This was published on: Sunday, November 29, 2020 in the Daily Express Sunday Forum. See here

I REFER to your report “State Govt Urged To Revive TAED” (DE Nov. 22) and cannot agree more with the suggestion by the former Luyang MP and Assemblyman, Datuk Dr Hiew King Chew.

The Tanjung Aru Eco-Development can shift world tourist attention to Sabah. 

The Swedish group that conceptualised it was world famous for reviving a seafront town in Sweden. Its blueprint won a Singapore design award. 

The problem is that it got a bad press from the start from activists who felt they know better than everyone else. 

 And of course, politicians in Warisan who knew they could get bulk votes from the squatters who want to continue enjoying the most expensive prime land in Kota Kinabalu for free, besides free electricity and water through theft.

 The previous Warisan-Plus State Government realised much later the benefits of the project and decided not to scrap it.

 With tourism down globally in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the time to revive it perhaps on a smaller scale so that it is ready when tourism is expected to recover in 2023.

Eco tourist

The recent Sabah Quake has left a very damaging effect on Sabah and her people in all forms. The physical, psychological, spiritual trauma felt by Sabahans and friends of Sabah is one that cannot be erased so easily. As someone who has called Sabah my home for many years, I believe I speak for many that the Sabah Quake is a reminder of how insignificant we are to a land that had provided so much for so many. Clearly, life as we live it must take into account natures very living presence that is in as much of a position as human beings are in determining both life and death.

However, what I foresee to be the greatest burden befallen those effected by the quake is an economical one.The quake took 18 lives and left almost 20 people wounded and hurt. Over a hundred climbers were left stranded on the mountain, without other viable exit routes. Numerous homes and building in approximately 18 districts suffered structurally and more than 80 aftershocks recorded by the Meteorological Department, many more will soon be reported.

The point that I am making here is simple; There is a great need for funds designated to restoration works in Sabah. The local mountain guides (national heroes in my eyes) and affected local residents need to be taken care of till Mount Kinabalu is once again ready for climbers. In its current state, no climbers would even dare think of weathering Akinabalu and if climbers are no longer coming, an entire community that depends on this industry to make a living will be severely effected.

Recently in a conversation with Sabah Chief Minister, Musa Aman, I was told that he had appealed to several high ranking officers from PETRONAS ( a government endorsed oil and Gas conglomerate) to assist with the Sabah Quake victims. A verbal agreement was made between Aman and PETRONAS in which this special fund would serve as their CSR for Sabah. This has yet to take place, but for this assistance to make truly help, it needs to come in soon. Similarly, other successful companies and conglomerates need to come forward in a similar fashion. Anyone who has benefited from Sabah needs to pump resources back to the state immediately.

We can never blame anyone for the Sabah quake. Nature is unpredictable as it is beautiful and what happens within the realm of the natural is completely out of our hands. But what we can take complete control of are the aftermaths, the rehabilitation and and the recovery. If we fail to assist and support where it is needed, then blame is inevitable. Conglomerates, such as PETRONAS who have had the support of so many, need to take time from their busy schedule to realize that those servicing the Mount Kinabalu, a cherished and honored world heritage site, are in need of help. Help needs to come sooner rather than later, through swift action and not as lip service.

this piece was out today in the Sunday Daily Express forum

It is not the state government alone that can usher in prosperity and development within the state. Once the government has laid the foundation for a better administration and sense of security, many people can contribute to the state’s growth. And some of the steps taken by Chief Minister Musa Aman signal signs of a green revolution that could come to Sabah. With Sabah being predominantly an agricultural economy, and now the booming tourism economy, it would be good to have a fresh green revolution in Sabah.

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman is going green, quite literally. A green foundation – YaHijau Malaysia (Yayasan Hijau Malaysia) and the “MyGreen Sabah”- is set to become a grassroots movement to encourage Malaysians to adopt eco-friendly lifestyles. After recording good progress in environmental preservation through its “Heart of Borneo” (HOB) initiative when it succeeded in increasing protected forest areas to 1.3 million hectares, Musa Aman has assured that he will continue to be committed to Sustainable Forest management (SFM) and eco-friendly development projects all over Sabah.

The Sabah State Government has set-up the Sabah Green Technology and Climate Change Committee which will be responsible for formulating policies and making recommendations on tackling green technology issues, environmental issues and climate change at the State level. The need to save Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park which has already lost 60 to 70 meters due to erosion over the past 50 years is one of his priorities now.

To Save Tanjung Aru Beach and the Prince Philip Park, Musa Aman has come out with a master plan under the Tanjung Aru Beach Rejuvenation Plan, a fantastic plan and an unprecedented move! Tanjung Aru Beach will be moved seawards to improve wave exposure, and coarser beach and terminal structures will be put up to minimize loss of sand, among other measures. The objective is to push back the sea to regain the land that was lost to erosion over the years. Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED) has been entrusted with reviving Tanjung Aru Beach. This would involve reclamation of 440 acres out of the total of over 700 acres. This mammoth project will cost RM1.5 billion and Datuk Victor Paul, the most experienced developer in Sabah who has an extremely good track record in construction, has been roped in. Datuk Victor Paul built the Perdana Park at Hone Place, Tg Aru entirely as part of his Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a gift to the state and the people without requiring any form of payment or reward. It is believed that he spent RM50 million. He also built Metro Town, a township, all on his own and many other projects since The Berjaya government. Musa Aman has got the right man for the job.

The present Prince Philip Park in Tanjung Aru Beach covers 14.5 acres and with the revival project it will cover 27 acres. The present length of the beach is about 1400 metres with a width of 9 meters of sand during high tide and 25 metres of sand during low tide but after development, its new length will be 1420 meters with a new beach width of 50 to 110 meters. Remember, presently the beach has already gone down by 60 to 70 meters due to erosion, if left as it is in years to come Prince Philip Park will itself be claimed by the sea.

So under the Tanjung Aru Beach Rejuvenation Project, The government is giving back to the people 68% as public areas while the remaining 32% is earmarked for development. The revival project is to return the park and beach to its former glory, while at the same time attract investments from locals and foreigners, create job opportunities and develop the local economy. In doing so, the government through the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED) would be giving Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park back to the people. It will be bigger, cleaner and well-designed unlike now. The public would also not only enjoy continued access to the beach, they would also NOT BE charged when visiting it.

And behind the beach and the park where the former Tanjung Aru Government Quarters used to be located, there is a piece of land that was sold by a former chief minister to the fugitive Teh Soon Seng. The state government under Musa Aman had to fight in the courts to recover this land. This parcel of land is were the residential and commercial property development inclusive of six hotels and resorts is to be built.

Musa Aman told a visiting group from Kuala Lumpur that good governance is to solve people’s problems. The administrative system is more of less the same across the country but there is need for change in the mindset for infusing service in the work culture.

The group, on a study tour of Sabah, called on Musa Aman and acquainted themselves on how Sabah tackles challenges before good governance.

Musa Aman said that team spirit is must for result and ‘Team Sabah’ fulfills this need. There is need for clear-cut instructions on policy matters and administrative setup to ensure the message percolates downstream and the action taken reports travels upstream. And development needs a positive attitude. He said that one reason for the success of Sabah’s good governance model is people’s participation.

He said that environment and development are complementary to each other; both are needed to lend speed. There is need for vision even for environment. He recalled that when Perdana Park was developed by Datuk Victor Paul, all kinds of accusations were hailed and even NGOs were criticising left, right, and center. But today, Perdana Park is considered the most progressive park of its kind in Malaysia where a musical fountain and purified water is provided free of charge. Heaps of praises are thrown by everyone and is now the most regularly visited site for recreation in the state capital. Built on a 16-acre area, Perdana Park is the very first recreational park in KK with a musical fountain performance. One has to learn how Sabah nurtures greenery and preserves wildlife to protect the environment despite so much difficulty and converts them into tourism. Sabah is fast earning Green Credit points as it has adopted a policy of harnessing Nature and not exploiting as is in vogue in the rich Western countries.

And so it begins. The very first has just been presented by the new Sabah Government after being re-elected in May 2013, and after hours of back and forth (cursing and paper tearing included), the new budget shows that the Sabah Government is committed to progress and is also as determined to increase the pace of development in the state.

Musa Aman says the bulk of the Sabah budget is earmarked for development. The RM4.622 billion of the Sabah budget for the financial year of 2013-2014 proposed by Chief Minister-cum-State Finance Minister Musa Aman in the state assembly Friday sought to tell the Sabah growth story vis-a-vis Malaysia’s and achieve the five-year dream in the first year itself. The release states “The new budget for 2013-14 would build new confidence among people and showcase state’s potentialities before the world”. “Ensuring Continuity of People’s Well being”, it was announced that new missions and schemes, referring to State Barisan National’s Government is very committed to the development of not only in the urban but also rural areas in Sabah and at the same time ensuring nobody is sidelined in the budget.

A press statement continued by saying that “The State 2014 Budget is higher by nearly 80-fold than Sabah’s first State Budget 50 years ago where the revenue estimate was only RM61.5 million while the expenditure estimate was RM61 million. In 1974, the estimated revenue rose to RM207 million and the estimated expenditure increased to RM239 million. Ten years later in 1984, the estimated revenue reached RM1.22 billion while State revenue rose to RM1.38 billion. 2014, has set the highest ever State revenue target which is RM4.58 billion, marking an increase of 20 per cent from 2013’s original estimate of RM3.83 billion.”

Even as the Federal government earmarks just 35 per cent of the Federal Budget for development work, the Sabah government spends as much as 65 per cent of the state Budget on development work. Talking about Sabah’s contributing a lion’s share in the nation’s development, Musa said, “Although the state government was elected for a five-year term, it resolves to fulfill the people’s aspirations from the very first year itself.”

While Musa’s budget speech said the state economy has grown by leaps and bounds in the past five decades since independence, he added that “I am confident that people from all walks of live regardless of religion, race, gender, rich, poor, old or young, physically challenged, wherever they may be ( whether on land or sea); people’s well-being and States prosperity are our main agendas for us to always strive for, which are certainly achievable.”

So there is the mission for which the government has allocated RM 1.58 billion “for improving infrastructure and public amenities”. This is besides RM627.92 million allocate to upgrade water supply. Musa claims that to achieve zero hardcore poor target and reduce relative poor in Sabah, the government has allocated RM178.14 million to implement various programmes. The reduction of poverty from 19.7% in 2009 to 8.1% in 2012 proved that the governments efforts in this has borne fruits.

The budget, claiming to be for inclusive development, seeks to strike balance for growth in both agricultural and industry, enhance quality of life in rural and urban by focusing on housing and infrastructure. To empower the youths the Y Generation so that they will be more valuable, creative, innovative and productive through education, training, skill programmmes, sports and community activities the budget has set aside RM229.86. The budget also proposes The Enhancement of Knowledgeable Livestock Entrepreneur (K-Entrepreneur) Programme which will be continued.

To spur growth in the State tourism sector, particularly on investment in providing tourism facilities, the State Government has approved the Tourism Master Plan covering the coastal areas of Tuaran to Kota Belud and RM233.99 million has been set aside for next year. The State tourism sector targets 3.4 million tourist arrivals and an estimated tourism receipts of RM6.277 billion although while writing this, a Taiwanese tourist got killed and his wife got kidnapped in Pom Pom Island in Semporna by Abu Sayyaf bandits. Perhaps in this instance, it is best if the state tourism sector uses the money to ensure maximum security before handing out pamphlets about exotic resorts in the East Coast of Sabah.

For a fair and unbiased understanding of the ‘Sabah Story’ we should read it with an open mind and look at the State’s performance against the backdrop of the low socio-economic base from where it started its journey to rapid growth and spectacular development. The ‘Sabah Story’ is a story in the making, much like the Thousand-and-One Arabian Nights, it is not a story that concludes here and today and perhaps never will. Sabah inherited low levels of social indicators (at independence) and it is the change in these indicators where Sabah shows impressive progress. The literacy rate has risen from 22 per cent in 1960 to 69 per cent in 2001 and 80 per cent in 2011. Even the infant mortality rate per thousand has fallen from 144 in 1971 to 60 in 2001 and 21 in 2011.”

Anybody reading the ‘Sabah Story’ with an open mind would see it is a story of immense success that inspires hope and determination to achieve greater success. But an open mind is something that is alien to our liberal media and the intellectually bankrupt commentariat that controls publications which lay greater stress on fiction over fact.

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.

Location continues to be the key factors for real estate developers. And higher focus, within the real estate parameters, has been provided to occupiers demand followed by supply and indicator fluctuation.

Sabah’s real estate market has responded to the improved sentiments now being seen across the rest of the country. Construction activity is evident largely in residential as well as commercial projects including condominiums, shopping malls and multiplexes, since this is currently the primary growth sector on the state property front. Pragmatically, Sabah’s residential and commercial real estate segment has pulled itself rather convincingly out of stagnation mode.

Despite knowing the fact that the support infrastructure is a huge challenge in most towns and even the city of Kota Kinabalu, the domestic as well as national developers have not been deterred in decking the state’s continuous growing sense of modernity.

And the property rates for new schemes at its various potential districts have spiked by significant figures over the last few years. Residential projects are coming up fairly rapidly in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, etc with a fair amount of residential construction including other adjacent areas of Labuan around Kuala Penyu. With special real estate and education hub initiatives for the masses especially in Sandakan, the Sandakan Education Hub – a 1,200 acres  site to be developed as an educational hub for five colleges that have expressed interest to establish campuses in Sandakan, and the Sandakan Harbour Square which consists of 129 unit of shopoffices, a new central market, a Town Square, a shopping centre, hotels and a convention centre, the state is destined to get a face lift. Currently, Sabah is witnessing a huge revamping exercise.

According to a report compiled by the Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad (SPNB), which has data on all states, Sabah recorded one of the highest growth of  8 per cent during 2009-10. Lauding the prodigious achievement of the state, George Khoo, CEO of Properties Malaysia said, Sabah is the new miracle economy of the country.

To support and sustain the real estate growth trend in Sabah, the state government seeks Federal Governments immediate support in special package for infrastructure development in all the districts in Sabah.

Disseminating the news on current scenario of real estate, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said, ” There has been a boom in the real estate in Sabah. I am often told that the cost of a high-end condominium unit in Sabah at present is higher than many developed cities in the country. This has happened in spite of the economic slowdown which had depreciated property prices elsewhere. The property prices had remained stagnant in Sabah for many years preceding my tenure.”

The Musa Aman regime has shown quick spike in state’s overall growth. Even, the improved law and order situation has attracted builders and investors to invest in the state contributing to its economic growth.

Another significant move taken by Musa Aman’s government is the halting of the proposed seafront development projects encompassing some 400 acres of seafront from Tanjung Aru to all the way to Likas signed away by Former Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee to some private companies one of which is connected to Sarawakian Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing who is also involved with the controversial “The Port Klang Free Trade Zone“. To save the waterfront and the Likas Bay, Musa Aman had to stop the project and the state government was bought to court and RM1.6 billion was claimed by “The Developer”, luckily the government won the case. The waterfront project in fact threatened to turn the waterfront and the Likas bay into a vast tower-block hotel and housing estate. The “Developer” hoped to build a sprawling series of high-rise blocks,  including multistory colossus. With the consequent seafront population explosion, the old concrete ramps linking the development to the seafront would be gridlocked and medical, emergency, bus and education services overwhelmed. There would be pile-driving seven days a week for years and a decade of chaos with convoys of slow lorries trundling along Kota Kinabalu seafront roads with thousands of tons of building materials. The scheme would not just be a disaster for Kota Kinabalu residents but it would ruin the city’s seafront skyline, block sea views, cause road congestion and parking chaos way beyond the waterfront area, set an appalling precedent for over-development and sound the death knell for Sabah as a peaceful leisure venue. Musa Aman’s aim is to accelerate development and undertake urban development in a way that is kind to both people and the environment and that’s why he had to put a stop to this project, he has sent a strong message in so doing.

Then there is another large industrial project, near Sipitang, US$ 1.5 billion Sabah Ammonium-Urea plant project also about to take off shortly by the Sabah government and Petronas. This undertaking also will do much to open Sipitang’s real estate growth into a new direction.

Now, the developers have started tapping Sabah’s fragmented locations after seeing a paradigm shift in affluent property buyers. They, with a serious need to spread their wings over wider geographies, now see no further mileage in delaying their move to untapped locations  where the favourable penetration rate adds extra perk to develop the real estate. And going 10 years down the line, the state will witness a consolidated position in the real estate market as developers are stretching their capacities to the maximum in order to meet the growing market demand.

Then the recent RAM Ratings has reaffirmed the AAA rating of the Sabah State Government’s RM544 million Bonds (2009/2014) and this is great news. RAM Ratings said the long-term rating has a stable outlook for Sabah and it also reflects healthy fiscal position.

Sabah recorded a fiscal surplus of RM730.3 million on the back of RM4.2 billion of revenue and this announcement further accelerates the growth curve.

In the season of scams when political reputations are at their lowest ebb, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman stands out as a remarkable exception. His emergence as a front-runner in a field crowded with seemingly redoubtable figures like Shafie Apdal, Rahim Ismail, Yong Teck Lee, V K Liew, Chong Kah Kiat, et al, is all the more noteworthy because of his quiet, unassuming persona.

Yet, by winning a resounding electoral mandate in 2008, he has been unequivocally hailed by vox populi as their choice as the best chief minister of Sabah since 1963.

The extraordinariness of Musa Aman’s feat is demonstrated by the unbelievable turnaround that he has brought about in Sabah’s social and economic scene. Needless to say, his political success is based on this transformation.

The result is that he has proved beyond all doubt that if a politician uses the official and political power in his hands for the betterment of ordinary people’s lives, he becomes virtually unbeatable.

Malaysia will be a much improved country if this simple lesson provided by Musa Aman is widely emulated. And at no time is there a greater need for such emphasis on the fundamental requirements of the people than in the present murky atmosphere when, as Lim Kit Siang has said, the country’s ‘moral universe’ has shrunk.

Except, perhaps, in Sabah where the incarceration of thousands of illegals and criminals, and the fall in the number of abductions to nearly zero in the east-coast of Sabah, and the continuous deportation of illegals back to Philippines and Indonesia, have largely restored the common man’s faith in the administration’s clout and goodwill. In a state where the parties are not averse to get illegals as voters or illegals as cadres, since the days of the Late Tun Mustapha, the chief minister has shown that he means business. Besides, as the Sabah State Security Chief, he does not use the police to harass the opposition and he upholds civil liberties.

As a result, there has been a huge surge in tourist coming to Sabah because people are no longer afraid to visit Sabah with women and children. Besides, they can afford to remain out after nightfall unlike in the past when the town and roads became deserted and the haunts of criminals.

But it isn’t the improved law and order situation alone which has encouraged greater outdoor excursions to the beautiful islands in the east-coast of Sabah. There has also been a vast improvement in the condition of roads with the restoration and construction of nearly hundreds of kilometers of highways and bridges, including elevated hanging bridges.

Much of this work was done by public sector undertaking and also private sector undertaking, which was able to overcome its earlier deficit to contribute for relief even to the flood victims the last time. But no less noteworthy than its good work was the subsequent appointment of capable executives, which underlined the chief minister’s ability to spot and reward talented bureaucrats.

At the same time, he has been ruthless in the matter of initiating action against officials found guilty of corrupt practices. Many have been sacked.

Since these measures have improved the investment climate, it is not surprising that Sabah’s current growth rate of 8 percent has become comparable to Penang and Selangor’s. For the present, however, this upward trend can be ascribed to the fact that shops and commercial establishments are mushrooming all over Sabah and they can remain open till late at night, which was not possible during the days of PBS and Pairin Kitingan when even the streets had no lights.

The phrase was earlier derided as political hyperbole, but not after the return of normalcy in daily life.

Apart from law and order, Musa Aman has focused on the education sector which is under the Federal Government, he has been continuously pressuring the Federal Government, to get more teachers at the primary and secondary levels to reduce the teacher-student ratio from the present dismal 1:50. The provision of uniforms and school shoes and free milk for kids attending school has also been an attractive feature of his policies.

The chief minister has now turned his attention to higher education with his proposal to the Federal Government to set up more colleges and technical institutions. For this purpose, he has selected some good academicians to advice the state government.

Health had been a neglected factor in Sabah. Hospitals were in a bad way and most primary health centers were non-functional in the interior of Sabah. Musa is now working at upgrading health facilities. He is inviting private partnership to achieve this and already millions and millions have been spent in construction and upgradation. Federal Government who is responsible for health in Sabah has been constantly told to pay more attention to Sabah. Immunization, the key to control disease is being aggressively promoted.

The power situation was pathetic. With the exception of Kota Kinabalu, almost all the districts have severe power cuts and even now have power for only a couple of hours sometimes everyday.

Musa understands that power will bring in industry. A new Power Policy is being prepared that will woo private investment in generation and distribution. For a start, there are proposals for new power projects that could generate 300 megawatts. Geothermal power plant and gas fired power plant are also being considered without adversely damaging the environment. Private players are being roped in and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has been constantly told to improve their performance. He has even warned Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) to justify the recent increase in the power tariffs and not burden Sabahans with the increase.

Then there is the issue of children from Chinese-native parents in Sabah where the National Registration Department (NRD) is unwilling to specify their mixed ethnicity in their MyKad applications. The NRD required Sino-Kadazans or Sino-Dusuns to choose between Chinese, Kadazan, Dusun or Murut ethnicity for their MyKads. The NRD is insisting that the community use the generic term “Sino-Native” in the documentation. So silly for the NRD to do this. This policy has angered the mixed Chinese-native community in the state and they have refused to subscribe to the NRD ruling and are demanding that their particular native groupings be recognised. As a Sabahan, Musa Aman understands their feeling. Musa Aman has even told the NRD repeatedly that in Sabah by virtue of its traditions, customs and beliefs everyone recognises the existence of Sino Kadazan, Sino Dusun and others because inter-marriages in Sabah are norm, just like in my own case where my wife is Chinese-Native. After all, as far as Sabah is concerned there are many things that were being done in Sabah that was not done in other parts of Malaysia. KL must recognise and learn from Sabah in terms of harmony and living together. Musa even said that blanket policies could no longer apply for Sabah and that the federal government must take into account local situations and accord the ‘right treatment’ in policies to be implemented in the state.

Then we have the Christians in Sabah and Musa’s success in winning the support of the Christians despite having the Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and UPKO and even PBRS as a partners is based on a no-nonsense approach to communal relations. In this respect, Musa Aman has shown how stern he is compared to Taib Mahmud of Sarawak, who looked on helplessly when the Alkitab and Allah issue was played up by fanatics within UMNO.

In contrast, Musa Aman showed the firm, uncompromising side of his character when he refused to let extremist break the racial harmony in Sabah which has been around for hundreds of years and a trademark of Sabah, and the West Malaysians will never understand this.

Musa Aman’s success via these steps in weaning sizeable sections of the Christians undoubtedly contributed to his electoral triumph in 2008 and even the recent Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-elections.

His focus on the natives also helped him by widening the distance between them and the others, who constitute the Sabah’s vote bank.

Musa Aman knows that he now has to start delivering and there is great expectations by Sabahans. He has got everyone thinking and interested in Sabah, but that is not enough. Change has now to be felt and experienced. The masses are eager and impatient. No one knows it more than Musa Aman does. Elections are only months away. Time flies.





This is my second climb to  Mount Kinabalu. See here the climb I did last year.

Before I started the climb to Mount Kinabalu, I stayed overnight in Kampong Kibbas, Ranau with a good friend of mine Emit Mandadi.

Next day after breakfast, gathered my bag together with my friend Emit drove to the base of the Mount Kinabalu and arrived at Timpohon Gate at around 8.30am where we actually started our climb together with my guide Biling Bin Sanan a very nice Dusun gentleman.

When I reached about 3Km stopped at the “Pondok Mempening” hut and ate my packed lunch as it was almost noon. Couldn’t finish the packed lunch but I manage to feed the balance food to the many squirrels which were so friendly and one even came up to my hands and got its share of food. It was a nice feeling. The lunch pack consisted of 1 fried chicken, a few sets of sandwiches and 2 boiled eggs.

Reached Laban Rata Km6 by 1pm. It was cold and misty and it started to rain. My accommodation was in Gunting Lagadan.

There was no hot shower in Gunting Lagadan and boy it was really cold taking shower in the evening before dinner at Laban Rata. By 9.30pm I was aready tucking myself into the bunk as had to be up by 1.30am the next day for the remaining 3km to Low’s Peak.

My aim now was to get to Low’s Peak and back to Laban Rata for breakfast and then back to the base of Mount Kinabalu (Timpohan Gate) on the very same day.

So did I make it????

HELL YES!!!! *grin* Yes, I made it again to the Rooftop Of South East Asia, the summit, Low’s Peak 13345 feet above sea, at exactly 5.12 am on the 29th of November 2010. Exactly 1 year 1 month from my previous climb.

What an INCREDIBLE experience, just like the last time…so much emotions, but, was a little confuse this time, don’t know why. So much things was going on in my mind.

Anyway, slowly made my way up, right to the Peak. It certainly was NOT an easy climb compared with the climb I made last year as it was raining all the way. Gripping on to the wet rope in the dark was quite a challange! It was only on my descent that I realised just how far I could have fallen if I had slipped. Additionally, the rain did not make my descent any easier as the rocks were darn slippery and I really had to watch my footing and balance.

My mountain guide Billing was such a great chap and a great motivator always telling me ‘dekat sudah bah’. These mountain guides really know their way on the mountain and know exactly where to step for an easier climb.

My verdict this time? Mount Kinabalu isn’t there to be conquered. If anything, she is there to be respected. The climb wasn’t just all physical. In fact, it was more mental than anything. My climb showed me that hey, anything is possible if I just put my mind to it.

Mount Kinabalu –ah! anything more beautiful, taking it altogether, I have never seen and I say this the 2nd time. There could only be one such mountain in the world, and as a landmark it is priceless. I knew that I could not mistake that and this is from my HEART.

In conclusion… INCREDIBLE, FANTASTIC, MAGIC… and hard but manageable, just like the first climb.

Strange, just like the last time, even after 3 days my heart is still calling for the mountain! It’s an energy of many dimensions and I confirm it again.

I  really appreciate now the great work Sabah Parks is putting in to keep this priceless mountain as it is. Well done Sabah Parks! Thanks to Thomas Yussof my friend from Sabah Parks.

And one last word…”Please don’t allow others to hijack Mount Kinabalu as it truly belongs to the DUSUNS!”


Wednesday, 28th July, 2010

Masidi: Perm Sec not under MACC probe

Barnard Yaang

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun denied that his Permanent Secretary was hauled in by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for questioning recently.

He said he has no knowledge of the so-called MACC probe on Suzannah Liaw when asked to comment on the Malaysia Today web portal alleging that she was being investigated for graft.

” I can confirm to you no such thing happened,” he said, adding he was surprised that people kept asking him whether the allegation was true.

Instead, he said the issue was a result of a misunderstanding over Liaw’s insurance claim. He said Liaw sustained broken legs about two years ago in an accident following which she submitted claims for injuries from the insurance company.

The State Government, he said, has an insurance scheme for its employees and that the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and Sabah Parks where Liaw served as member of the board of directors in both entities also provide insurance coverage.

However, the people misconstrued Liaw’s insurance claims as claiming money from the Government. He said Liaw is permitted to make insurance claims, as she is entitled to it.

He explained that the compensation payment from the insurance company was only paid to her after almost two years because the company requires time to ascertain the authenticity of the claims.

Maisdi said people have become vicious in passing rumours that hurt other people for no apparent reason.

“I hope this serves as a good lesson to remind us that if you dont stop all the nonsense in our society, we would be sinking into low morality,” he said.

He suggested the very same people who were jealous of Liaw for the insurance claims break their legs so that they could make similar claims from the insurance companies.

See full story here

This is from Bernama –

The police have given an assurance that security patrols in the coastal areas and islands of Sabah will be intensified as a precautionary measure following a travel advisory that terrorists plan to attack tourists in the area.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said tight security would always be maintained to ensure that the country was free of all types of threats that could jeopardise national security.

“I have directed the state police chief to intensify patrols along the coast and islands around Sabah especially Semporna, Mabul and Sipadan.”

“We will always monitor the situation and take appropriate action, thus the people and tourists are asked to be calm and not to be worried because we are always on alert,” he told Bernama when contacted.

He was commenting on a travel advisory issued by the United States Embassy, here, warning that criminal and terrorist groups were planning attacks against foreigners in the islands of Sabah.

The notice posted on the embassy’s website and dated Friday, said resorts located in isolated areas of eastern Sabah posed a concern.

It urged “extreme caution” in connection with any travel in isolated areas of eastern Sabah, including Semporna and the islands of Mabul and Sipadan.

The advisory noted that the Abu Sayaf militant group, an al Qaeda-linked militant group based in the southern Philippines, which is a short boat rideHERE from Sabah, have kidnapped foreigners from Sabah’s secluded resort areas in the past.

Read HERE when even way back in 2005, the CIA, from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur came to interview me after this article I wrote in the Daily Express Sabah. Its not surprising, the East Coast of Sabah has been a hotbed for terrorists activities for a longtime and even in 2006, Malaysian cops arrested several members of a Jemaah Islamiah (JI) support cell here. Read more HERE.