Archive for the ‘SAPP’ Category



It appears that a critical mass of the Sabah electorate wants to reward Musa Aman for the good work he has done over the past several years, since he first assumed Chief Ministership in March 2003. Each person this writer spoke to heading for the early polls in Sabah had only good word to say about the chief minister. This is indeed what makes it difficult for a divided Sabah opposition – The United Sabah Alliance (USA) and its four State-based opposition parties namely Star, Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Lajim Ukin’s Parti Harapan Rakyat, Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah together with Malaya based DAP, PKR & Amanah, to attack Musa on any of his development agenda. Shafie Apdal himself has characterised Musa’s regime as marked by fourteen years of malfeasance, but could never publicly attack him on the plank of development.

In a big public meeting outside of Sandakan late 2016, Shafie asked those who attended if Musa’s reign as Chief Minister was ever marked by a lack of accountability but the response was cold. In reply Shafie fumed before the crowd: “I have no other motive than to defend the rights of Sabah”, but having held five terms Member of Parliament of Semporna since 1995 and appointed as parliamentary secretary, Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government in 1999, Deputy Minister of Defence from 1999 to 2004, Minister of Domestic, Trade and Consumer Affairs, and later Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, he has yet to prove that. On 10 April 2009, he became the Minister of Rural and Regional Development which coincided with his election to one of UMNO’s three vice-presidential posts. Shafie Apdal is hence the first Sabahan to hold a vice-presidency of UMNO but has done little to “defend the rights” of the varied population of this state.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is an authentic Musa wave in Sabah as is. It is no wonder that divided Sabah opposition groupies are very worried about the general sentiment generated before polling. The local opposition parties anxiety is reflected in the manner in which it is bringing issues like illegal immigrants, the re-issuance of identity cards, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Elsewhere, near Penampang, Shafie Apdal is doing what he does best – playing the polarisation game. When he said Sabahans will celebrate if the BN is defeated in Sabah, he again betrayed the fact that the party’s desperation has reached newer highs. By invoking BN, Parti Warisan Sabah believes it can consolidate Sabahan votes across all races but the party’s attempts has failed to bear fruit as voters are seen shying away from Shafie Apdal’s new party. In fact, large sections of Sabahans seem to be inclined to give Musa Aman another term.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the founding father of the second largest political party in Sabah, a long serving assemblyman, MP and Huguan Siou (paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community), has indicated an intention to retire from politic but is also complementing the broader sentiment in favour of Musa by holding on to his KDM vote base – to which opposition groupies have mainly tried but failed to break by raising numerous issues including the delayed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) technical working committee report on illegal immigrants.

The KDMs, emotionally impacted by the down fall of the PBS Government in March 1994, seemed to have put their fullest weight behind the grand BN alliance. Pairin’s meetings are attracting unusually large crowds with hundreds of youths enthusiastically clicking away on their smart phones. I had seen a similar spectacle only during Pairin’s public meetings in Tambunan and Keningau during GE13 polls in 2013.

In many ways Sabah looks so much like a forerunner of events in national politics. Both Musa and Pairin speak the same language and the political grammar converges around a larger strategy of demanding Sabah rights under the Constitution, the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) report and Malaysia Act. The devolution of powers from the Federal Government to the state was an ongoing process, with the principal objective of addressing and resolving public concern over the erosion of the special safeguards granted to Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement and the Constitution.

Musa Aman articulates this strategy cogently as he says, “We are all Sabahans, who advocated a constant campaign to resolve issues between state and the federal and the Sabah Government has its own “gentler” approach – more effective, better than shouting and demanding” – “The Sabah Way”. When Musa said this a decade ago, the BN was the establishment. Today, the BN, and the forces its represents, have become the establishment, forging a front against the opposition and its divisive politics, the state government believes in consultation not confrontation.

Musa has repeated over the years that the Sabah State Government under his watch believes in diplomacy rather than confrontation and has achieved some excellent results through this approach, particularly in its negotiations with Petronas on oil and gas matters. These include the appointment of a Sabahan to the Petronas board of directors and Petronas undertaking to increase the number of Sabahans at executive and management level. Now there is a clear understanding between Petronas, the Federal Government and the state government as to Sabah State Government objectives.

UMNO is benefiting in Sabah due to the image of Musa Aman as an urbane, decent and efficient chief minister. The visit to Sabah by Wu Bangguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, and many other world leaders, confirms that Musa has placed Sabah ahead of many other states, making it the most successful state in Malaysia in attracting private investments. China’s decision to open a consul-general office in Kota Kinabalu confirms the state’s growing importance as a world-class city favoured by tourists and businesses. For the first quarter of 2016, Sabah under Musa Aman managed to attract private investments in the amount of RM10 billion, way ahead of other states. Apart from that, as of September 30, the amount of cumulative investments in the private sector, under the Sabah Development Corridor projects, had reached RM114 billion since its launch in 2008. Among the many reasons include having a stable, business friendly and a prudent government as well as stringent forestry laws and strong conservation programme. Totally Protected Area (TPA) – 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% TPA by 2025 or 2030 at the latest or over 2.2 million hectares of Sabah under forest.

So tell me, which other state in Malaysia has set aside 22% of TPA including rich agricultural lands and virgin forests at high opportunity costs? Only Sabah under the Aman administration, that’s for sure.

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Creating history in Sabah’s politics, Musa Aman is once again back to the power of the state as the poll result of the just-concluded 13th General Election of May 5 showed that he won a landslide victory. The UMNO and Barisan National alliance grabbed more than two-thirds of the seats (48) in the 60 state assembly seats and 22 of the 25 Parliamentary seats. Musa Aman’s victory is said to be due to the triumph of development, progress, and good governance.

From the very beginning, the 2013 assembly poll counting hinted that the UMNO-BN alliance would create a history in Sabah with their new win and they proved by attracting a total of 442,493 votes for state seats and 434,522 for parliamentary seats which total 877,015 in all. The opposition, on the other hand, received only 59,862 votes for the State seats and 287,559 votes for Parliamentary seats.

Musa Aman, received the biggest chunk of votes with 16,637 for a state seat in Sibuga among the coalition’s state component leaders, a majority of 11,569 votes, underscoring the popularity of his Halatuju policy for the state’s development. His acceptance of a renewed term as Chief Minister also makes it the first time a Sabah Chief Minister had broken the nine-year jinx and continued to hold the fortress, basically what I have been saying all along.

Also as predicted, the Sabah Progressive Party led by former chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee was wiped out losing all the 41 state and eight parliamentary seats contested. Yong himself was beaten by DAP’s Youth leader Junz Wong in Likas state seat. Apart from Bingkor, Dr Jeffrey’s STAR candidates lost all 48 state and 21 parliamentary seats it contested. Except for the Klias state seat, Sabah UMNO retained all its 13 parliamentary and 31 (out of 32) state seats it contested.

While many facile analyses will attribute the electoral outcome in Sabah to factors that were marginally relevant, the more astute of analysts will see in the turnout figures what this election was really about. Of particular interest would be the number of first time voters and of even greater significance the spike in the Women Voter turnout. It would not be exaggeration to describe this election as the one where Women and Youth reposed their faith overwhelmingly in Musa Aman. In the processing putting up a Firewall against Race, Religion and every other political construct from the decades gone past that have come to define incumbencies.

This win signifies 6 things for Musa and Sabah:

#1 – He is a trend setter and has established that pro-incumbency sentiment can firewall against even the toughest of incumbencies and a 10 year run for the Chief Minister.

#2 – He is able to break from the past, having able to discard political constructs of the past 5 decades to analyse this election. This requires a new political construct to analyse how elections of the future will be fought as well.

#3 – He proves that Technology can be a winner – and that is necessary to stop being apologetic for being tech friendly.

#4 – He has sent a signal to the Pakatan Rakyat and its extended ecosystem of Sabah Progressive Party and Star that the cliche victimhood card as a permanent political agenda is past its sell by date. Cynicism no longer sells.

#5 – It is reflective of what the future can hold for Malaysia.

#6 – It shows Sabah is kingmaker in Malaysian politics.

Between women and youths lies the “New Sabah”. The story of this election’s win is really the story of how the ‘New Sabah’ came to be and how Musa Aman has laid out a political roadmap to realise its aspirations. Musa Aman preferred to call this a ‘Covenant of Commitment’. But I would go a step further to call it the ‘ladder of opportunity’.

For the first time in the middle of a high stakes election for an incumbent Chief Minister in a country like Malaysia to go on record and express his commitment to Development takes both courage and conviction. It is much easier to resort to cheap populism. What I find striking about this election is the creativity with which the “Safety of Net” has been promised. This has been done so while being steadfast about creating a “Ladder of Opportunity”. Thus there is the opportunity for more citizens to cross over that much riled “Poverty Line” through targeted interventions and join the “New Sabah”. The “safety net” that has been promised is less of a trap that sucks you into dependency but more of a trampoline that helps you bounce right back to find your way up that ladder of opportunity.

The earliest indicators of the rise of the ‘New Sabah’ came from the Census data of Rural Households. Between the fall of Harris Salleh’s Berjaya that was wrongly attributed to “Sabah Shining” and the re-election of Pairin Kitingan’s PBS that was once again wrongly attributed to ‘Sabah rights based entitlements’ most commentators have ignored what the Census data told us going as far back as 1985. In block after block, district after district, when queried over what kind of assistance Rural families preferred one message came out loud and clear – education, skills and security.

Musa Aman’s comments on the rise of the ‘New Sabah’ during the release of Sabah BN’s manifesto for the May 5th 13 General Elections may come as a surprise to many but there is a sound demographic basis to it. Back in 2008 as an academic exercise an economist friend had dissected the electoral landscape in Sabah through the prism of the 2006 Census data. It was found that the opportunity exists to materially alter the battleground in Sabah through a platform that emphasized on ‘economic issues’ that can size up to the ‘economic aspirations’ of the “New Sabah”.

It is this “New Sabah” that a hunger for job opportunities and infrastructure is shaping a different kind of electoral discourse where development and economic growth are viewed as essential to the ladder of opportunity while concerns over inflation manifest into the desire for a subsidy-oriented safety net. This is markedly different from the Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Star rhetoric which is all about imaginary rights and entitlements with the lure of cash transfers. The key difference is that the “New Sabah” is far more impatient to climb the ladder of opportunity rather than militate like the opposition parties for a safety net woven out of rights and entitlements.

Social engineering and victimhood narratives have been political anomalies for some time now with a young and impatient Sabahans hungry to satisfy its aspirations making electoral choices that defy conventional political wisdom. Soon they will become anachronisms with the Sabah victory marking the first time an explicit agenda targeting Sabahans being advanced by Musa Aman receiving such a resounding endorsement from the citizenry.

The opposition hasn’t been able to counter Musa Aman, but they say they have been able to contain him. That is one way of looking at it. What Musa has won is 18 seats more than the required majority, which is not spectacular, but the number is still more than what the opposition has managed to win. In fact, this is more a personal victory for Musa Aman than for the Barisan National.

There is no question Musa Aman is a master strategist.


In February, Musa Aman seemed a trifle embattled. The Lahad Datu standoff the intrusion of almost 200 armed Filipinos in Lahad Datu, 10 of our Security Forces were killed – for the first time in his decade-long rule in Sabah, the Chief Minister was feeling the pressure.

But come April, as he announced his election manifesto, neatly appropriating the legacy of the state leader, Musa Aman had put behind him all disadvantages of the month before. He then set off to the length and breadth of the state showcasing his “Vibrant Sabah” policy. The message was lost on none – Musa Aman was still a crowd puller.

After eleven days of campaigning, as the Sabah Chief Minister reaches the fag end of his final round of campaigning, the biggest question being asked is – will that charisma continue to translate into votes for the Barisan National? Surveys and analysts predict yet another victory for man who has adroitly changed his image to development role model. At stake are bigger ambitions – Musa Aman reckons another impressive victory could propel him to be the longest serving chief minister of Sabah, breaking the 9 yrs jinx. But is this road a smooth one?

All I can say is- The situation in 2004 and 2008 is very different from that of 2013.

The ending of the rotation of chief minister every 2 years in 2004 saw Musa winning hands down. By 2008 Musa had begun constructing his new avatar, that of able administrator. But 2013 is without any emotive issue except for the Lahad Datu standoff. The fragmented opposition has managed to keep the election battle low profile, avoiding another bad showing like 2008. That has forced Musa Aman to keep his campaign confined to development as the key agenda.

But does that suit Musa Aman? “Not at all,” says a political commentator, who later add that, “His political existence and shrill rhetoric is what makes him an unstoppable leader. But this time there seems to be no emotive issue. The developmental plank can’t excite voters to a decisive point.”

Musa Aman, the master strategist, realises this. And so, analysts say, he has attempted to add another element to his electioneering this time, projecting this to be not only a Sabah vs Pakatan Rakyat battle but also the personality battle between Musa Aman and Anwar Ibrahim. By taking the battle to a new level, he is sending a very subtle message to the electorate. He may not concede his national ambitions but when he talks about the Sabah vs Pakatan Rakyat battle, he is sending out a message; here is a Sabah leader who can stop Anwar Ibrahim from taking the throne in Putrajaya. If that’s the case, 2013 will, in a way, establish what connects Musa Aman to three million Sabahans. If he wins yet again it clearly establishes that even without a polarized vote, Musa Aman can win based on a campaign revolving around development.

But this road is not without potholes.

Though pre-poll survey and pundits say former Deputy Chief Ministers Lajim Ukim and Wilfred Bumburing are unlikely to do much damage to Musa Aman. The L & B factor, as it’s is called in these parts, could play spoiler at least in the politically critical Beaufort and Tuaran region. Lajim had won a huge majority in the Beaufort Parliamentary last time in 2008, but this time both Lajim and Wilfred could play a role in obtaining less than half a dozen seats. After all Lajim represents the all-powerful Bisaya community and Bumburing represents the Dusuns to an extend, which is a sizable chunk of the electorate. But the basic problem with L & B would be absence of an organizational structure since both are using unregistered NGOs PPPS (Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah)and APS ( Angkatan Perubahan Sabah) riding on Pakatan Rakyat, to topple Musa Aman as chief minister. Lajim is politicising the position of “Janang Gayuh”, causing disunity among the Bisaya, a Dusunic group, found only in the Beaufort region. Lajim ran away from UMNO because he knew he would not be fielded this time, the same with Bumburing and UPKO who didn’t want him to stand in Tuaran. To be honest, what has Lajim and Bumburing done the last 30 years? Zilch.

After eleven days of campaigning in this 13th General Elections, Musa Aman is looking to retain power again, thus enabling Sabah to live up to the tag of being “the fixed deposit” of the BN. Despite the opposition pact’s onslaught for the parliamentary battle, Sabah BN is likely to win most of the seats won in the 2008 general elections. However, BN can expect tough fights for Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Beaufort, Tuaran, Penampang, Sepanggar, Pensiangan, Kota Belud and Kota Marudu parliamentary seats. In the 2008 general elections, Sabah BN won 59 of the 60 state seats and 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats, losing the Sri Tanjung state seat and the Kota Kinabalu parliamentary seat to the opposition DAP.

The determining factor for BN’s ability to continue ruling Sabah lies in the fact that the coalition is more united in facing the elections, while the oppositon is pitted not just against BN but also against each other. Despite pre-election calls for the opposition parties to reach an understanding so as to ensure straight fights with the BN, only the Tanjung Batu State seat and Sandakan parliamentary seat are seeing one-to- one contests.

The decision by Star Sabah (Sabah Reform Party), SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party) and PKR to field almost equal number of candidates for the state seats is clear example of serious faction among them. Given the bickering among them, its hard to imagine any one of them winning enough seats to become the leader of the pack. On top of that, PKR’s insincere gesture of offering SAPP a limited number of state seats has resulted in the latter completely abandoning the hope of wanting to work with the peninsula-based party. There are campaign whispers alleging that SAPP had received RM60 million from BN to split votes in favour of the ruling coalition. Worst still during a ceramah in Foh Sang Kota Kinabalu which I personally witnessed, SAPP was on a DAP bashing spree causing distrust among the voters.

Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR on the other hand, the youngest parties of the lot, is making unexpected inroads particularly among the mostly Christian Kadazandusun Murut community in the interiors, and the BN message is as such tailored to them. So, if Pakatan cannot turn things around, it can only likely bag the Chinese-majority seats of Sandakan, Tawau and Kota Kinabalu, while in Beaufort where incumbent Lajim Ukin, who is contesting on PKR’s ticket, is likely to pull through. Pensiangan could be taken by Dr Jeffrey’s Star Sabah. SAPP is most likely not able to get even one seat.

With the end of the race just days away it is evident that winning big is extremely important to Musa Aman and how Sabahans vote will decide the road map to power politics in Putrajaya.


There are a total of 358 candidates representing the Barisan National the Pakatan Rakyat, Sabah Star, SAPP and Independents going for 60 State and the 25 Parliamentary seats, all up for grabs in Sabah for the 13th GE on May 5. The interest and the buzz that Sabah elicits when it goes to polls – both from the common people and the media – is obviously unprecedented.

While a state like Sarawak which went to the polls in 2011 attracts attention for its sheer size and the fact that it is politically volatile, Sabah on the other hand has captured the imagination of the people for a decade now due to one very shining personality – Musa Aman. The hype that has been generated as far as the May 5th 13th general elections are concerned has become manifold because these polls are virtually being seen as a referendum for Musa to continue as chief minister.

So the question being asked now is not whether Musa will win or not and hold CM-ship for a record third time in a row, but how big a margin of victory would it be for Musa. The central leadership has to seriously work on the development plank so that Sabah regains its past glory of being the richest state in Malaysia including settling once and for all the “Mother of All Problems” – the influx of millions of illegals and they gaining Malaysian identity.

Yes, for Musa, these Assembly elections are not just about winning a third straight term (though Musa becoming CM for fourth time seems just as inevitable). For the Sungai Sibuga seat where Musa the incumbent is contesting, its a five-corned fight as he faces PKR, SAPP, Star Sabah and an Independent candidate. Upon careful analysis of his speeches and poll campaign, it is evident that he left no stones unturned to stake his claim to be chief minister again and winning the Sungai Sibuga state seat is a foregone conclusion.

While on the one hand he has been unresponsive as far as accusations of the state opposition leadership are concerned on the issues of development, illegals, drop in palm oil prices and so on, he has been relentlessly working hard with Najib Tun Razak at the Centre – be it the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on  Illegals, security, poverty reduction, price rise or inflation. The message that he obviously wants to send to Sabahans is apparent – he is the right man to lead Sabah.

People who have followed the incumbent Chief Minister of Sabah for years can vouch for the major personality change he has undergone  – Musa has gone from being a politician to a BRAND. From his well deliberated speeches to his carefully tailored suit and to his social media savviness (Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere), Musa and his managers have managed to carve a larger-than-life image of him. So much so that when one thinks of Sabah the first thing that comes to mind is Musa Aman. Think about it – a decade back when one talked of Sabah, the first thing that would come to mind was the Sipadan Island kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf .

With an apparent lack of emotive issues in the present edition of the polls, Musa has made a bid to woo the so called “neo-middle class”, promising  security and peace and houses and made them central to his game plan. He also promised urban housing for low income groups and jobs for youths with an eye on the 30 percent population which lives in urban Sabah. This was also aimed at neutralizing similar proposals made by the Pakatan Rakyat Sabah and local opposition parties. Clearly Musa is out for the kill in the run-up to the most keenly watched elections in recent times and what was being described as his toughest electoral battle till now.

The reduction of poverty rate from 19.7 per cent in 2009 to 8.1 per cent in 2012 which is the biggest reduction in Malaysia is one of the biggest achievement of Musa. We need to acknowledge this.

The man’s personal integrity is said to be above board, having said to have no tolerance for corruption, be a workaholic and made development and progress his mantra throughout his governance. His subordinates have also claimed he is not arrogant and not dictatorial and one who can accept dissent and disagreement in his scheme of things. Musa has been infallible from the start and had an air of self-confidence around him, there were no setbacks in the run-up to the polls. The man may leave many exasperated at times, be it members of his own party or the fragmented opposition in Sabah but his demeanor remains unflinchingly calm.

Post Script: Musa Aman may project himself as an administrator par excellence with sharp political skills who appears to be a superman. But at the end of it all he is also a human being with his own worries and fears though he may not show it. The foremost apprehension that must be on his mind is whether he can retain two-thirds of the assembly seats successfully and fulfill his next ambition.


Even before the May polls campaign process has reached full momentum in the state of Sabah, three generalisations dominate the marketplace of political ideas about its consequences:

a) that a third-time victory for chief minister Musa Aman in Sabah is nearly certain;
b) since this victory is a foregone conclusion, the time is ripe for a bigger role for Musa Aman

and

c) this victory is likely to be a direct outcome of ‘good governance’, understood primarily as robust economic growth, delivered under Musa’s leadership.

I see this approach as problematic for two reasons: in terms of method, it seems that QED has been etched in even before one could see the proof of what one set out to examine. More importantly, however, there is a certain naivete in this formulation that leads us to a complacence in examining the very complicated and nuanced role of electoral competition currently being witnessed in this state. I engage myself with unravelling this second strand, as viewed in the terrain of practical politics, analysing the strategies and counter-strategies of the main contenders—the ruling BN/UMNO the Pakatan Rakyat the Star Sabah and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP). I then examine the robustness of each of these three ‘generalisations’, and in conclusion argue that although it is an advantage to Musa Aman, there is political competition to be witnessed before one could declare the match won.

For one, the Pakatan Rakyat Sabah in the field does not have a sense of local issues, an understanding of pockets of disadvantage, and also a macro-strategy of where to deploy its energies spatially. In not associating themselves with Sabahan struggles against Malayan colonisation, the party has been aligning itself on the wrong side of popular grievances. Anwar Ibrahim’s campaigns will be of disadvantage, given his historical roots in the toppling of the duly elected PBS government in 1994 and his hands together with Dr Mahathir’s in the Project IC to dilute the native population in the state. Also Pakatan’s lineup, who is going to be chief minister if they win? Lajim as chief minister? Bumburing? Tamrin? Ansari? Who? They have no one of Musa Aman’s standing and Musa’s record of governance the last ten years can speak for itself.

For the SAPP the party’s grassroots base was not evident even in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-elections held on 2010. Besides, the SAPP had a low vote-share of 10 per cent or less even in the March 2008 elections. This will not be translated evenly into enough seats for the party this coming GE 13th May 5. Also, the margins of losing are very low. The party’s President, Yong Teck Lee failure to win over Pakatan’s Ansari in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by elections means even the Chinese in Sandakan have rejected the SAPP. SAPP’s most impressive pre-poll offering has been its “Autonomi for Sabah” battle cry, promising new Sabah IC for Sabahans if it comes to power, is questionable because they have been in the BN government for 14 years and Yong Teck Lee had been chief minister of Sabah for 2 years yet did not do zilch.

Part of the Star Sabah strategy is to focus on the interiors of Sabah, Jeffrey Kitingan’s roost, where it is said that the natives are disgruntled. As a macro-strategy, the Star Sabah is concentrating on the interiors of Sabah, where natives who are farmers have been adversely hit by high prices of fertilizers and agrochemicals and cost of essentials rocketing sky high The region accounts for nearly a third of the total seats and is the stronghold of PBS supremo Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan the “Huguan Siou”or paramount chief of the Kadazandusun Murut community, the backbone of UMNO Sabah. There is a story about Pairin saying his bids this time is his last battle to retain both constituencies of Keningau and Tambunan for the Barisan Nasional in the interest of the people, meaning Jeffrey will have a tough time to win in Keningau. Besides, there is no tacit approval by Pairin to the natives that Jeffrey will takeover from Pairin, as claimed. As an unfolding of this macro-strategy, Jeffrey might launch the Star Sabah’s manifesto for the May polls’s in Keningau, in the heart of Indigenous Sabah.

Also, the Najib government’s decision to get The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah is of recent vintage, and can win favours for the BN. Natives disgruntlement owing to disadvantages due to the presence of huge numbers of illegals becoming instant Malaysians and Bumiputras. Najib and the Federal Government seriously addressing it by having the RCI on illegals, along with the Lahad Datu drama, makes for a strong force. After all, the defeat of Haris Salleh in 1985‘ was scripted similarly, combining agricultural disgruntlement and fear of illegals reverse taking over of Sabah and sentiments of regional disadvantage.

To the advantage of the Barisan National is the fact that there is no state-wide anti-incumbency even after a decade-long rule by Musa Aman. Economic indicators are certainly robust, with state GDP growth rates averaging 6 to 7 per cent or more (between 2003-12). Interestingly, Musa Aman has raised it to a campaign pitch, telling everyone to “learn” from the Sabah growth story. The sectoral composition of this growth rate, particularly the advances in construction, agriculture and tourism, have received wide attention. Although there have been disputes whether the growth has been as high as Musa Aman claims, even modest estimates available accept agriculture grew at higher than national average at around ten per cent or more. Economists also note the significance of the consistently high growth rate in the agriculture, construction and the tourism sector, notwithstanding the constraints it faces.

But electoral competition, and even more electoral victories, are not simple outcomes of people calculating the benefits of policies and voting for political leaders who set the regional economy right. Were this hypothesis correct, why would Premier Najib Tun Razak have announced a series of cash incentives a year before the May poll dates set in? These include promises of farm loan and free internet usage, electricity bill waivers, enhanced allowances to security personals and civil servants, allowances for youth earning less than RM2000 and payment of arrears to teachers among others and the BR1M and many more goodies. Even the kampong headman has been promised a increase in allowances. The cash transfers build a new constituency of supporters, while countering some of the opposition from the lower bureaucracy and the poor. Advantage to Musa Aman again.

Of greater bearing for electoral fortunes is Musa Aman’s use of political vocabulary and tailoring the campaign language to hype his achievements and castigate the opposition. In state wide ceramahs, the opposition are his target, as if the party’s state unit led by Lajim Hj Okim, Wilfred Bumburing, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Anwar Ibrahim has no bearing. To malign the image further, Musa Aman adds that the “Pakatan Rakyat and the local opposition is not united and cannot really be trusted.”

Coming back to the three generalisations I began with, it is the first of which the chances seem highly likely. But Musa Aman’s victory is unlikely to be attained without competition from the local unit of the opposition front. The opposition front has also made pro-poor election promises of housing and employment for the poor, reduction of petrol prices, abolition of PTPTN and Sabah rights. How well they are able to sustain these as campaign issues, and combine their attack along with the challenges from UMNO dissidents, may have very little implications for this election.

The second generalisation about “a bigger role for Musa Aman” for the moment seems to be a ploy to hype the leader into a “larger than real” stature, and is certainly a political statement intended for local Sabah consumption. Finally, robust growth notwithstanding, Musa is not relying on these laurels alone. So also the opposition, which has understood that growth pursued in a certain way produces grievances amongst the displaced and the rural poor, and these can be woven into a counter-campaign strategy. In conclusion, it is advantage Musa Aman, but the battle is yet to be fought.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

I’m always reminded of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman whenever I read this poem entitled “Still I’ll Rise” written by the black poetess, Maya Angelou. Although Angelou wrote this in the context of her protest against White racism, it is almost as if a large portion of this poem was written with Musa Aman in mind. In the recent decade, there has been continuous allegations and abuses hurled at him. No invective has been left unused while abusing him. The Pakatan Rakyat and its major and minor cohorts in the media have carefully indulged in a systematic campaign of Musa’s character assassination. Despite this, their efforts have gone in vain because he’s won election after election with a two-thirds majority. That’s not all. In the ensuing 2013 13th general elections, there’s every indication that he is likely to be the Barisan National Sabah’s Chief Ministerial candidate again.

If that happens and UMNO declares Musa Aman as their Chief Ministerial candidate, let no doubt remain that this poses the biggest danger to Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Star Sabah. And it is to prevent this exact situation that the fragmented Sabah opposition is working overtime. The Assembly Elections scheduled from anytime now till May 2013 will witness yet another victorious Musa Aman. It takes 31 seats to capture the 60-member Sabah State Assembly. However, if the Barisan National under Musa Aman manages to garner a tally 35, it will be portrayed as a defeat of Musa Aman. This is why the fragmented Sabah Opposition is willing to stoop down to any level to ensure that the Barisan National bags a figure under 35. The electronic media as usual, has become a willing handmaiden to aid the Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Sabah Star in its every nefarious move. However, this time around, many have already begun to shed light on these dirty tricks.

According to a Pakatan Rakyat strategist, PKR has identified two ways to accomplish this. The first is the one it implemented in Selangor and Sabah. In Selangor, the Pakatan Rakyat capitalized on the Umno’s infighting and its in-house traitors thereby wrecking the opposition Barisan National. In Sabah, it has already yoked up the disgruntled Umno elements in the form of Lajim Ukin and Ibrahim Menudin, and has pitted them against Musa Aman. The second way is vile way of direct, open character assassination. But why is the Pakatan Rakyat after Musa Aman with such zeal? What is it about him that’s giving it sleepless nights?

Today, the only state which stands between Anwar Ibrahim and the Prime Minister’s chair is Sabah. Obviously, What is stopping Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister is Musa Aman. Anwar Ibrahim needs at least 20 Parliamentary seats out of the 25 Parliamentary seats from Sabah for his dream to become Prime Minister to become a reality. Musa Aman controls the bulk of the Parliamentary seats in Sabah. The argument that Musa Aman allows for corruption is shallow and the opposition front is very aware of this fact. Historically, corruption in Malaysia has always been connected to both government and opposition, who are both equally corrupted, a fact that the opposition front is well-acquainted with. However, they repeatedly uses the corruption card for obvious reasons. In the present day, using the same card to discredit Musa Aman has become over played, and if we allow such divisive politics to succeed, we can only shudder at the future of this nation.

The fact is that despite numerous attempts over the last 10 years, the opposition front has been unable to find even one flaw in Musa Aman. Why?
Well typically, every successful politician or leader or public figure has a team or at least one shrewd adviser who guides and advises the leader on various matters. Tun Mustaffa had a Syed Kecik, Pairin Kitingan had a Dr Jefrey Kitingan before he went under ISA, Dr Mahathir had Daim Zainuddin and Abdullah Badawi aka Pak Lah had son-in-law Khairy Jamaludin, and so on. In present day politics, this applies to a Lim Guan Eng who had Daddy Lim Kit Siang and Uncle Karpal Singh, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who had Anwar Ibrahim, Taib Mahmud who had a Bomoh, Anwar Ibrahim who had Azmin Ali, Najib Tun Razak had Rosmah Mansor. None of these leaders took any decision without first consulting their advisers and every decision once taken, has the imprint of their adviser in some form or the other.

If this is the case—an age-old precedent—who is this one person who advises and guides Musa Aman?

There’s no answer to this question because Musa Aman is his own King and wise counsel. Historically, the opposition front is known to “book” such advisers and exploit the weakness of the adversary through this key person. However, despite painstaking efforts spanning a decade, the opposition front encountered a solid wall in the case of Musa Aman because—apart from having no adviser, he is clean. Of late, the opposition front has explored the avenue of trying to tarnish him through his family and distance relatives—for example, a distance relative Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by Musa Aman. However, even this turned out to be a dead end. The handlers and the dirty tricks department of the opposition front apparently found out that Musa Aman isn’t in politics for selfish ends, and was forced to accept the fact that Musa Aman’s interest lay in Sabah’s interest. It’s left to our imagination as to the future of Sabah if a man like this becomes Chief Minister again for the 4th term.

This is the reason Musa Aman has captured the imagination of the Sabah masses.

He comes across as an introvert. It’s hard to predict when he speaks or when he doesn’t. By himself, he’s a great strategist. In the 2008 Sabah assembly polls, he steered the Barisan National to more than two-thirds majority winning 59 of the 60 seats contested, without calling in any central leader from the party to the campaign trail. This is because of the confidence that comes from demonstrating performance and delivering clean governance. Thus, it’s clear that he’s the only leader in Malaysia who can mount an effective opposition to Anwar Ibrahim becoming Prime Minister. One of the easiest slurs to assassinate the character of a person is to brand him corrupt and a womanizer. So the Chinaman Micheal Chia’s story will be recycled over and over again stooping to a new low. And that’s not all—according to Pakatan strategist, the Pakatan Rakyat is pulling no stops. It has created an entire “stop-Musa” machinery by roping in all sorts of activists, media persons, and disgruntled UMNO Sabah elements. Yet, as Maya Angelou says:

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Let Musa Aman rise, vanquish his opponents and lead Sabah towards progress and prosperity.


The coming state assembly elections for Sabah may be a pivotal moment in determining the future trajectory of the state’s political economy and indeed progress, in the near term. Pitted against each other are two contesting visions of Sabah: the incumbent coalition government comprising the Umno-led BN in a coalition with local parties Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS), United Pasok Momogun Kadazan Organisation (UPKO),Party Bersatu Rayat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), are campaigning on a platform of good governance which is supported by the arithmetic of rapid economic growth — approximately 7 per cent on average — in the last ten years of Musa Aman’s government.

On the other side is the Pakatan Rakyat combine shepherded by Anwar Ibrahim and Bumburing’s Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and Lajim Ukin’s Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS), which still believes that it can acquire power in Kota Kinabalu by manipulating the state’s race and religious arithmetic in its favour. The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Sabah STAR is the third front in this contest — trying to take on the incumbent government on a Borneo agenda-Sabah autonomy, rather than governance plank — but not yet powerful enough to be a credible alternative in government, leaving many to believe that both the SAPP and Star Sabah have been planted by Barisan National to split the opposition votes. After all, President Yong Teck Lee himself will have plenty explaining to do on what he did during his tenure as chief minister when SAPP was in the BN.

It would be in the larger interest of the state of Sabah and its people if this election puts to rest the notion that power can still be captured based on old social divisions and grievances. It is important for Sabah’s political economy to move on to a politics of aspiration, where people vote for a party or coalition that delivers governance. This will force all serious political parties (including the SAPP and Sabah Star if they want to remain relevant) to contest future elections on a forward looking governance plank in the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement within the framework of the Federal Constitution, rather than a backward looking social engineering plank. This time round, such reasoning undoubtedly favours the UMNO-PBS combination which is the main pillar of Barisan National Sabah, and a majority of opinion polls, for what they are worth, suggest an easy victory for the Musa Aman-led coalition.

But a political economy which puts governance at its centre may not favour the incumbent government for all times to come, such are the huge challenges facing any government that is elected to power in Sabah. To what extent can Musa Aman’s government claim credit for Sabah’s apparent turnaround, powered by a growth rate higher than Malaysia’s average over the last five years? A dissection of the growth figures shows both the contribution of the government and the challenges that remain. Most of Sabah’s growth these past five years has been powered by agriculture, construction, tourism and services, particularly hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, trade and, to an extent, oil and gas. The impressive growth in these sectors isn’t matched by the lethargic performance in manufacturing — those are challenges that still face the next government.

The state government can claim credit for fuelling the growth in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and construction, since much of this has come through rural development projects, water supply, electrification, bridges and roads funded through the federal and state’s exchequer. In fact, the government’s public spending record has been good, and a massive improvement on the poor spending record of the previous governments before Musa Aman that preceded it. Planned spending was tripled within ten years of the Musa Aman government taking office. This has spillover effects, in a Keynesian “stimulus” sense. Apart from increasing spending, the government has also taken huge strides in improving the law and order situation especially in the east coast of Sabah where bulk of the illegals with fake or questionable Malaysian identity have outnumbered the locals. That has helped boost not just agriculture and the construction activity but has also given a fillip to service industries in the tourism sector like hotels and restaurants which have registered impressive growth.

In short, the government has effected the turnaround in the state’s economic fortunes by simply doing the two things any good government ought to: implementing law and order as well as spending on infrastructure. In doing so, it has reversed the long decline in the state’s fortunes that took place before Musa Aman took over the chief ministers in 2003. It is also important to remember that a lot of this impressive growth in the last five years has plenty to do with Sabah starting from a very low base — and that there is a limit to the sustainability of a growth rate that is powered largely by government spending and a small section of services industries and not forgetting that Sabah is the 2nd largest state in Malaysia with an area of 74,500 sq. km which is 260 times bigger than Penang, which is only 293 sq. km in size even, smaller than Sabah Forest Industries (SFI). Therefore for growth to be sustainable it needs to be more broad-based into manufacturing and agriculture.

Here, the task gets a lot harder, and will involve massive policy reform in land, labour and product markets. What makes Sabah’s task of industrialisation harder than that of some other states is the fact that goods are more expensive in Sabah due to the federal government’s cabotage rules a policy set in the early 1980s, making sure that all the domestic transport of foreign goods could only be done by Malaysian vessels, reducing Sabah’s attractiveness as an investment destination. This protectionist policy has led to excessive shipping costs, importers and exporters in Sabah had to pay more than RM1 billion for shipping services as a result, causing prices everywhere in East Malaysia to go up and ultimately a higher cost of living and higher price of goods as producers hike up prices to compensate the increase in cost of production. Further more, Sabah lost a lion’s share of its industries after Labuan became a Federal Territory.

What may also turn out to be an unforeseen advantage is the rather shambolic state of governance in surrounding states — Sarawak, Brunei, The Sulu States, and even Kalimantan. If Sabah can consistently outperform these states on governance, it could easily become the industrial hub of East Malaysia — a region which still trails Penang and Selangor on most economic parameters by some distance.

But to capitalise on these potential advantages, the Musa Aman government will have to do much more than maintain law and order and actively engage in spending which has been done of late with a huge budget approval of over RM4 billion this year. It will also need to take bold policy steps to liberalise rules that deter investment. In doing so it may have to go further than other states which already have a head start in attracting investment. The government will, for example, need to ease labour laws and better wages, so that Sabahans can be gainfully employed within the state. It will need to take aggressive steps to ease land acquisition so that it can have an advantage over neighbouring Sarawak. If the government fails to do this and more, growth will begin to slow, giving the opposition plenty of ammunition. At any rate, Sabah’s future elections ought to be fought on these issues of the future rather than the outdated legacies of the past. This leaves Musa Aman still the best man for the job.



President of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Taiko Yong Teck Lee’s romancing of the Barisan National may end his love affair with the Sabah opposition front soon. But this new love story bring up the moot question as to why he is so desperate when the Barisan National has hardly given any indication to warmly accommodate him under its fold. Sources in the Barisan National say Yong Teck Lee can’t be trusted. How can they depend on a leader who was willing to ditch the Barisan National—his decade-old senior partner — when he felt the relations between both were strained because of one man Pak Lah? Earlier too, Yong Teck Lee parted ways with Pairin Kitingan and formed the SAPP. The gainer of this triangular game being played in the state may be Shafie Apdal a good friend of Yong Teck Lee who is waiting and watching in the wings to take over as chief minister from Musa Aman.

Remember when Yong Teck Lee was chief minister he together with Shafie Apdal milked Yayasan Sabah until it nearly when dry? However, thanks to Musa Aman,he saved the day for Yayasan Sabah. Even Lajim Ukin, Sabah’s famous party hopper and old buddy of Yong Teck Lee from the Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) days where both began their political career and where both plotted to destroy PBS are seen regularly together nowadays. If recent gathering in the meetings of SAPP is any indication, then Yong Teck Lee being adamant to go for a majority of the state seats (60 in Sabah) this coming looming 13th general election on what he termed as “the principle of Sabah autonomy” is all about splitting the opposition votes and helping Barisan National win big.

The political signal coming from Yong Teck Lee in the last few months indicate that he is trying to sail on two boats — Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat — at the same time. His shifting statements to keep both the major political parties in good humour may end with a backlash. At the same time, Pakatan Rakyat camp specially The Democratic Action Party (DAP) feels that Yong Teck Lee is not dependable and his track record for the last couple of years shows that he is more committed to divide and split the opposition votes. It is a known fact that despite poor governance Yong Teck Lee ruled this politically vibrant state for 2 years but a lot say he worked 4 long years (pun added because he worked day and night 24hours a day making hay while there is sunshine with his partner in crime Joseph Ambrose Lee).

Yong Teck Lee’s new political strategy to oppose Pakatan Rakyat and hinting he would also ditch Dr Jeffrey’s State Reform Party (STAR) anytime is also meant to hijack Dr Jeffery’s old battle cry of ” Sabah For Sabahans” , “Sabah Rights” and now “Ini Kali Lah”, and keep his minority flock in his pocket. In the meantime, Yong Teck Lee is trying his best to sweep the issues of malgovernance and corruption during his time as chief minister under the carpet with the help of captive media. Being a shrewd seasoned politician, Yong Teck Lee knows his limitations; he also knows the art of handling the levers of the power equations. He has hardly missed any occasion to profess his loyalty to the Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and Anwar Ibrahim in particular. Recently, he took the opportunity to welcome Anwar Ibrahim in the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and this says a lot. Though he is not a part of the Pakatan Rakyat but only supports it from the outside, he also denounced DAP Sabah strongly. Is Yong Teck Lee driving a wedge between Anwar Ibrahim and DAP Sabah?

In a given political situation, Yong Teck Lee doesn’t have any other alternative but to support the PKR in Sabah after his bad outing in the Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-election where even Ansari of PKR did better then him. He can’t think of joining Pakatan Rakyat because of DAP Sabah whereas Dr Jeffrey Kitingan can move in any direction. The challenge for the opposition is how to strike an agreement among themselves so that there will be only one-to-one fights with the Barisan. It will not be easy because SAPP and DAP are eyeing the same seats while Jeffrey is unlikely to give way to PKR on choice seats. Besides, there is no love lost between Dr Jeffrey and Anwar Ibrahim.

Now, as political churning is going on in Sabah, the situation is that the two political stalwarts Yong Teck Lee and Dr Jeffrey Kitingan are being used as pawns in a game played by the Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat, both “Party Party Malaya” as they say here in Sabah.


Shafie Apdal, the Minister of Rural Development is very much jealous of his counterpart in Sabah, Musa aman and is repeatedly attacking Musa and opposing his candidature for the continuation as Chief Minister. Shafie was responsible for undermining Musa Aman’s leadership by instigating Lajim Okim to call for the removal of Musa as chief minister by appeasing Lajim with a RM150 million road project from his Rural Ministry. Shafie also helped form KDM Malaysia to divide the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) community, politically weakening Pairin Kitingan and PBS, hence forming a wedge between Pairin and Musa. Now, Shafie Apdal is masterminding the return of Yong Teck Lee (SAPP) into the BN fold and claiming he has the tacit approval of Najib Tun Razak to negotiate the return, despite word of the Sabah BN components distrusting Yong. Yong Teck Lee, Shafie Apdal and Joseph Ambrose Lee were partners in crime, taking over the RM30-billion timber wealth of Yayasan Sabah through share-swap, in a time when Yong Teck Lee was Sabah chief Minister and Shafie Apdal was Directer of Yayasan Sabah.

Like it or not, it was Musa Aman who was the then state finance minister who rejected this share-swap deal, saving Yayasan Sabah from a pending doom. Shafie Apdal’s intention of bringing Yong Teck Lee back into BN will weaken Musa Aman’s leadership among BN followers in Sabah due to Musa and Yong’s bitter relationship. At this moment of time Musa Aman and all the other BN component parties have got a fantastic working relationship.

SO the big question is: Why is Shafie so jealous of Musa Aman?

Obviously Shafie dreams of being the top dog, for sure, but I firmly see it 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, solution to Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem, increase for oil royalty – in whatever angle you look at, Sabah attracts deeper attention in every area, registering a surplus in many areas. But Sabah is not satisfied with this achievement. 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 is keen to contribute more for 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. Musa Aman faced crisis after crisis immediately on 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. Musa Aman had to prudently turn around the mess he inherited. In 2004, Musa Aman faced assembly elections and captured more seats than in 1999 and became the Chief Minister again. He won again in 2008 with a thumping victory winning 59 out of the 60 state seats. Musa Aman has earned the title as the longest serving Chief Minister of Sabah. Musa Aman is facing elections again expected within the next six months.

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

This year Musa Aman unveiled a RM4.09bil budget the largest in the history of Sabah which is a RM40mil increase over last year’s budget of some RM4.05bil. Of this RM2.07bil would go towards the economic sector, RM988.23mil for public utilities, including water supply, rural electrification and sewerage projects, RM764mil would be spent on infrastructure including the construction of roads and bridges as well as ports and harbours and the upgrading of Borneo’s only rail service, Sabah Railways. Musa also announced a special RM1mil allocation and the RM500,000 sentuhan kasih (touch of compassion) funding for each state constituency be continued next year. So we see the expenditure is aimed at eradicating poverty and improving the quality of life of the people by improving basic infrastructure and public amenities while at the same time developing high quality youth and human capital and not ignoring to strengthen Sabah’s financial position.

Under Musa Aman, Sabah has even earned praise from Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang for demonstrating sound financial management and for maintaining its record of efficient 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 he 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 RAM has given it a triple-A rating for its finances.

Sure there were problems in the past. Sabah’s problem of good drinking water would be an example of such an issue. Due to this, dry taps were a norm often in the past. In the kampongs, women and children had to walk far to fetch drinking water to their homes. There was scarcity of electricity and even the quality of electricity supplied was not up to the mark. Sabah lagged behind in girls’ education. 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.

There is still some shortage of electricity in Sabah but has improved tremendously from the past where power failures and power cuts were a common thing. 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 Sabahans purchases stabilizers along with 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.

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 terms since 1995, he has done nothing much to improve the livelihood of the Semporna folks although he has got a huge budget at his disposal now from his Rural Ministry, his achievements pale into insignificance compared to that of Musa Aman’s.

To add to this, word on the street is that Musa Aman is set on becoming the Finance Minister of Malaysia in 2017.

There are over 3 million people living in Sabah. This forms 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, Sabah’s share is 40%, Sabah contributes 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. If Musa Aman remains in power for another ten years uninterrupted, Sabah will be the most prosperous and peaceful place in the whole world. But unfortunately for the Sabahans, Musa Aman will be the Chief Minister only for the next five years. He is likely to be elevated as the Finance Minister of Malaysia. But Sabah’s loss is the rest of Malaysia’s gain. This is because Musa Aman will ensure Malaysia’s prosperity with his rich administrative experience, involvement, focus, dedication, concentration, sincerity and sense of purpose.

Footnote:
I know that all kinds of epithets will be hurled at me for praising Musa Aman and Sabah. I do not care about criticism. A journalist should speak the truth and nothing else. I have done my duty in reporting the truth about Sabah and Musa Aman. This satisfaction is enough for me as a writer.


 

The Sabah state assembly elections or the 13th General Elections will be held before March/April 2013.  The state is witnessing a political undercurrent in favour of Chief Minister Musa Aman. However, his critics and an analyst like Karim Gani stoutly argue against such a claim. Karim says, “Musa’s charisma may be there, but there is no undercurrent in favour of Musa.”

Here are some pointers favouring Musa Aman:

# Undoubtedly, there is no political leader in Sabah who has been as popular as Musa Aman since its inception in 1963. Musa Aman had charmed the poor and Natives, his influence is not limited in UMNO pockets.

Shafie Apdal is, largely, a Suluk leader and Lajim Ukin is, largely, a Bisaya leader. Both have theirs pockets of influence, but none could match Musa’s clout over young minds and men and women be it in the urban areas or even rural.

In the last five years, after appropriating the Best Chief Minister’s title, Musa has calibrated his communication with people through the language of development. That has clicked with people because the subtext of his act says that under Musa’s rule you could make money and have a comfortable life without many political, communal or social disturbances.

There is madness in crediting Musa Aman for every good thing happening in Sabah. In the last five years, the rains have been good, the KLSE is zooming up, agricultural income is booming and real estate is making middle-class families millionaires. Many middle-class voters say “Musa’s rule is auspicious.”

This shows that people are ready to re-elect Musa Aman. In his statewide meet the people sessions, men, women and youngsters gather to see him. Their faces evoke emotions. They look pleased to see their leader. The relation of trust between Musa Aman and his fans is certainly there.

In Sabah’s political circles, DAP and SAPP compete in the urban areas. Traditionally, they oppose each other with vengeance during election time as seen in the last Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-elections.

So is Datuk Pairin and Dr Jeffrey Kitingan both fighting tooth and nail for the indigenous KDM votes, although Pairin at this moment of time has still  got the numbers, but its dwindling. Musa knows this, Musa also knows Pairin is loyal, Musa also knows Pairin is “HUGUAN SIOW” to the KDMs and when push come to shove KDMs will still throw their support to their Paramount Leader.

Musa has transcended political rivalry and is expected to divide them successfully.

Then in Beaufort, as soon as Lajim Ukin declared Musa his enemy, Bisayas and Kadayans thought why strengthen Lajim by backing UMNO rebels? The Former Umno supreme council member Lajim Ukin says he will set up a new political party as a vehicle to field candidates in the upcoming general election. Lajim, had recently announced his resignation as an Umno supreme council member, Beaufort Umno division chief and Beaufort BN chairman with immediate effect and declared his support for Pakatan but remained an Umno member. So funny, people are not stupid, Lajim wants to have his cake and wants to eat it too. Like this, better to trust Musa Aman, the community leaders, both Bisayas and Kadayans argued. The Lajim stance is the only mysterious factor and will be known only after elections.

When the Pakatan argues that Musa’s leadership is not as much identified with the poor, natives as with urban, middle class and upwardly mobile voters of small towns, it is quite unbelievable.

But one can’t ignore the fact that today is Musa moment.

# Musa’s pluses and minuses are the only talking points of this election. Musa, being the experienced and cunning election strategist, has written the role for himself and has won not only his party but has captured the minds of UMNO leaders in Kuala Lumpur and the Prime Minister himself too.

This is the amazing factor of this coming election.

The coming 13 General Elections in Sabah will be known as the Musa versus Musa election. Musa Aman is in the battleground selling his own virtues, while Pakatan Rakyat and all the other wannabe opposition parties in Sabah is moving in lanes and bylanes of Sabah highlighting Musa’s vices, weaknesses and lies.

People are asked to vote for Musa’s virtues or against Musa’s lies. Right now the Musa magic works. Musa has staunchly identified himself with Sabah as Pairin did with Sabah in the 1985. He is raising regional parochialism to new heights by negotiating with the Federal Government for higher oil royalty for the state, getting the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the illegal immigrant to be conducted quickly before the 13th general elections. In fact according to LITTLE BIRD when Premier Najib comes to Sabah tomorrow 1st September 2012, Najib will announce and increase in oil royalty for Sabah. I don’t know for sure how many percent but definitely its going to be more than 10%. This is definitely going to create shock ways if what LITTLE BIRD told me comes true.

# In and around Tawau, and other coastal areas in the east coast a large section of voters believe that during the Musa government they have remained free of Abu Sayyaf and kidnappings. Absence of kidnapping means more tourism related development and more peace of mind for fishermen as safety and security is well taken care of. People here say “Musa means development without fear.”

On other hand, opposition voters, particularly urban opposition voters also acknowledge that when Musa is in the CM seat, it means, “Miscreant is the monitor of our class” and that guarantees peace in Sabah.

Musa unlike the earlier governments has successfully foiled all the kidnapping in the east coast of Sabah. This argument is appreciated by average people and they say previous governments were not been able to stop the kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf in the east coast.

# The Musa government has created the “feel good” factor by giving electricity supply to most homes in Sabah. There is a vital difference between the 2003 situation and now. Of course there is still power cuts but its not as bad as what it was before 2003.

Musa has succeeded in setting up new power plants and have changed infrastructure fundamentals big time. Now with the setting up of Kimanis RM1.5bil gas-fired plant a 300MW power plant to address the power supply issue in the state, things will get even better.

Now, a large number of people do mention that the government has given them uninterrupted electricity. For Musa Aman, whatever good government or its wings have done in the name of development is exclusively credited to “Musa” and is helping him to connect to people at this crucial time.

In last five years, even the supply system of drinking water has improved. Kampongs do have reliable system of water supply, now.

A large number of kampong people say they have a tap in their homes for the first time in their family history.

Again, there are problems in many areas. In some place the water supplied by government is not of good quality and at many places water is stored in tanks. But, there is perceptible improvement in the entire drinking water system.

# One of the most corrupt sectors of any state government is always the public works department. Sabah is no different, but in the last nine years after Musa Aman took charge of the state, a lot of work has been done and things move much faster now as many corrupted officials have been removed.

The quality of new roads in the interiors and kampongs have improved.

Musa is obviously not bluffing when he says, “I am not corrupt, I don’t allow corruption”.

Barisan National is visibly cash-rich.

Money plays an important role in the hype through mass-communication and in the craft of building of political perceptions for use of the media. But, still, the fact is that people are in a mood to believe that Musa Aman is not corrupt. In this election, his clean image will give him many marks.

# There are several reasons why Barisan National will do well in Sabah again this coming 13th General Elections although Musa’s government had reached its peak of getting 59 out of the 60 state seats in the 2008 elections.

Musa Aman without any doubt is pro-reforms and a moderate ruler. He has continued helping the under privileged and poor. He has even helped single mothers and has asked his administration to give them training. Now, trained widows are getting work and even getting pension.

There are many such situations where Musa has created new programs and projects for the poor and the underprivileged.

His penchant to give permission to new education institutes is appreciated, he gives permission to self-finance education bodies and schools which plan to run on government grants.

As a result the indigenous people don’t have to pay for uniforms shoes and text books for their school going children. Even milk and free food are supplied to these indigenous children in the interiors.

So the overall thrust  is such that Musa will score points.

The hidden social fight of upper/middle class versus the poor people is taking a new direction in Sabah. Musa is benefiting out of it.

He has successfully created hype over his social schemes.

The re-gazette of 183,000 hectares of Class 2 Commercial Forests into Class 1 Protection Forests to expand the expanse of totally protected forests in the state is another issue largely going in his favour.

The craving for forest protection in the state is so intense by Musa Aman that the story about him cutting all the timber and corruption is not getting people’s attention because they know its all lies to discredit him.

The e-government is a pet subject of Musa and its help in systemising land records does make an impact on the people. The Communal Titles a brainchild of Musa Aman, a move to issue communal land titles to resolve ownership woes among the indigenous people has paid off.  It has ensured that indigenous people receive the land they had cultivated or lived in for generations. It is also a way to ensure that land owned by the natives could not be sold off.

To repeat on a broader level, Musa is selling dreams in kampongs and towns where his development has reached and where his economic thinking is helping indigenous people to improve their lives.

The opposition has countered his attempt to sell starry ideas, but his charisma and the massive development seen taking place all over the state attempts to control the damage of robust opposition in many places.

While in urban areas Musa’s offer to have a “Developed Sabah” is clicking with people who love the multi-fold appreciation of their stock, homes and land prices.

If you look at the emotional connection between Musa and his audience in his statewide meet the people sessions, it is easy to predict that Musa is all set to win again.

Even Premier Najib recently in Bongawan was impressed by Musa’s performance, both as Umno head and chief minister and he complimented, “Musa is doing an excellent job leading the party and the state government.”