Posts Tagged ‘governance’


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

Well, I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sabah’s Watergate Scandal is the hottest news in town. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission seized RM114mil worth of assets RM53.7mil in cold cash stashed in houses and offices from two senior Sabah Water Department officials on Oct 4. The duo, a Director and Assistant Director of the Water Department are being investigated for alleged abuse of power and money laundering linked to contracts for RM3.3bil federal-funded projects channelled to the department since 2010.

This MACC seizure has opened many eyes, it is another reason why administrative reforms should be put in place, especially with regard to Federal development funds. This is what Musa Aman has been saying all along years and years ago.

The rural infrastructure allocation system for Sabah needs to be streamlined by the federal government through the channeling of federal funds directly to the state government to enhance the effectiveness of project implementation, particularly rural development projects. The total allocation provided by the federal government to the state for rural development projects is more than RM6 billion for the period from 2010 to 2013, which is approximately RM2 billion per year.

There is no justification for Federal to approve and implement projects in the State and ignore and not channel the funds to the State Government. The Federal Government should not be seen as usurping the authority of Sabah and creating a parallel government in the process.

The funds for all Federal funded projects should be channelled to the Sabah government for implementation and monitoring. State government knows better the ground situation and has in-depth knowledge of local conditions and requirements. Definitely the State government can chart Sabah’s own development course to meet local needs and requirements

The Federal Government should not play politics with federal funds …

In the wake of all this, here is an interesting take by Onn Ariffin. Onn was the former Director of Federal State Liason (USNO) an appointed post by Tun Mustapha in 1987, he was the “brain” behind the parallel government before Umno actually took charge in Sabah. Onn now Datuk, has been part of Sabah politics since the 70s and onetime he was Secretary-General of USNO.

Onn’s piece is in Malay but here it goes…..

ONN ARIFFIN

Tun Mustapha telah melantik saya sebagai Pengarah Perhubungan Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) sebaik sahaja tugas saya sebagai Setiausha Agung USNO tamat dalam tahun 1987.

Jawatan ini tidak mempunyai sebarang rujukan atau penunjuk arah tentang apakah peranan jawatan ini bagi kepentingan party mahu pun negeri.

Yang lebih saya fahami kerana Tun terpaksa menjawab soalan pemberita di Lapangan Terbang dalam sidang media tentang apakah jawatan seterusnya yang akan dipegang oleh Setiausaha Agong yang ada selepas tamat perkhidmatannya.

Jawapan Tun secara sepontan ialah perhubungan antara Kuala Lumpur dan Sabah.
Dari situlah timbulnya tafsiran disesuakan sahaja dengan panggilan nama Pengarah Perhubungan Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) oleh kerana terfikir kemungkin ada sesuatu yang boleh dijalankan untuk memenuhi tuntutan waktu .

Walau pun secara sepontan, namun ada juga kebijaksanaan Tun dalam mengumumkan perlantikan jawatan terebut kerana pada ketika itu pihak Kuala Lumpur merasakan suatu suasana kosong dalam poliitik Sabah setelah PBS mengambil alih Kerajaan Negeri. Lebih dari itu banyak isu-isu yang dibangkitkan sukar untuk dipertahankan kerana ketiadaan pemain tempatan.

Tugas utama jawatan tersebut adalah untuk meningkatkan perhatian rakyat atas kemampuan USNO sebagai kerajaan Alternative di Sabah. Oleh itu usaha utamanya ialah untuk memainkan peranan perang saikologi dan membidas isu-isu party lawan secara terbuka. Pada ketika itu juga dua akhbar kebangsaan yang hampir tutup laman Sabah dan menutup pejabat mereka kembali bergerak aktib. Dalam masa yang sama kita mengambil ikhtiar terselindung untuk mengambil alih Sabah Times walau pun sahamnya saling bertukar tangan, tapi untuk jangka waktu itu ia dapat dipergunakan untuk faedah USNO dan dasar-dasar untuk membawa lembaran pembangunan baru dinegeri ini.

Teringat saya atas pesanan Tun supaya tidak berunding dengan sesiapa pun dalam party atas tindakan-tindakan yang perlu di jalankan oleh Setiausha Agong Party, walau pun dengan Timbalan Presiden. Katanya buat apa sahaja yang perlu dan munasabah kerana pada akhirnya kita akan berhadapan dengan Majlis Tertinggi USNO untuk penjelasan.

Falsafah ini terus terbawa-bawa dalam tugas Pengarah Perhubungan Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) sehingga ia merupakan satu tenaga yang mantap dan kuat dan berperanan besar dalam menyelesaikan beberapa isu yang kadang kala melibatkan Kerajaan Persekutuan. Segala tindakan-tindakan dirahsiakan kerana strategy yang dirangka mestilah berperanan untuk mengukuhkan party.
Antara strateginya ialah mewujudkan kekuatan USNO melalui terbitan Lagu USNO. Mematahkan serangan-serangan Kartun party lawatan, memberikan pandangan atas gerak geri pegawai-pegawai persekutuan supaya bertindak dalam satu pasukan. Antara lain pula mengimbangi Lagu Hand in Hand dengan menerbitkan Lagu Gunung Kinabalu. Disini haruslah saya ucapkan terima kasih kepada Allah Yarham M.Y Ismail kerana telah mencipta lagu tersebut. Lagu tersebut sempat dilancarkan sehari sebelum lawatan Perdana Menteri untuk meresmikan Mesyuarat Agong terakhir USNO. Isteri saya Datuk Dayang Mahani dan Allah Yarham Datuk Norjan Badar turut dalam melancarkan lagu gunung Kinabalu, yang telah disumbangkan kepada RTM sebagai khazanah lagu-lagu patriotic Negara.
Saya cuma berharap pihak RTM sekurang-kurangnya memberikan perhargaaan kepada keluarga Allah Yarham serta kumpulan penyanyi atas sumbangan yang tidak ternilai dari Sabah.

Peranan harian pula termasuk meniliti dasar dan kenyataan-kenyataan kerajaan negeri sambil memberi jawapan dan penjelasan atas kedudukan sesuatu isu.

Oleh kerana perhubungan USNO dengan Kuala Lumpur semakin hari semakin baik, kita telah berjaya membawa masuk sejumlah 2juta ringgit peruntukan pembangunan untuk diagih-agihkan kekawasan ADUN USNO. Saya hampir merajuk kerana diberitahu oleh Pegawai Pembangunan Negeri yang wang tersebut mestilah melalui Kerajaan Negeri, lantas saya meninggalkan pesan supaya peruntukan tersebut dikembalikan sahaja ke Pusat kerana saya menganggap sia-sia sahaja usaha kita dan kehadhiran USNO sebagai Anggota Barisan NASIONAL diSabah tidak mempunyai sebarang makna. Sementara saya berada di Pejabat Pembangunan Negeri Pengarah ICU telah meghubungi saya supaya jangan berkecil hati kerana USNO sebagai party tidak mempunyai jabatan Khas untuk menerima wang pembangunan Kerajaan. Secara berseluruh saya katakan ada. Jawapannya Kemas negeri Sabah yang boleh memainkan peranan untuk menyampaikan peruntukan kekawasan2 ADUN USNO dan kawasan-kawasan tumpuan. Saya telah meminta Sdr Mustapha Mohd Yassin supaya memberikan butiran kepala code yang boleh digunakan. KEMAS serta merta melonjak naik dan bergerak selari dengan jabatan Pembangunan Negeri.

Begitu berpengaruhnya jawatan Pengarah Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) sehingga kerajaan Sabah terpaksa mewujudkan sebuah jabatan atas nama yang sama dengan melantik Datuk Chau Tet Onn sebagai Pengarahnya bertaraf Menteri Cabinet negeri.

Keputsan PBS keluar Barisan Nasional pada 15hb Oktober 1990 adalah tidak dijangka. Selang beberapa hari saya telah memanggil kumpulan pemikir untuk mengkaji impak hubungan antara Kerajaan Pusat dan Negeri walau pun BN kembali memerintah di peringkat pusat.

Keputusannya walau apa pun terjadi kita mesti mencari jalan supaya wang pembangunan untuk Sabah mesti disalurkan terus walau pun Kerajaan negeri tidak lagi menganggotai Barisan Nasional. Perselisihan yang ada adalah diantara Party dan Kerajaan dan tidak ada kaitan sama sekali dengan rakyat dan mereka tidak harus menjadi mangsa

Saya telah menderafkan pandangan saya dengan imputnya daripada beberapa ahli pemikir kepada YAB Perdana Menteri untuk menubuhkan sebuah Jabatan Baru dengan nama Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan Negeri Sabah (JPPS). Antara kandungannya adalah untuk menyelesaikan hal-hal pembangunan dan kesaksamaan sosial dalam memulihkan peradaban masyarakat. Tujuannya adalah untuk mewujudkan system kerajaan selari yang mampu mengambil alih peranan dan kelemahan jabatan-jabatan yang tergelincir dengan arus dan peranan sosial mereka.

Saya telah menyerahkan nota tersebut melalui Pengawal Peribadi YAB Perdana Menteri pada 25hb Oktober 1990. Saya difahamkan YAB Perdana Menteri telah meneliti nota saya beberapa kali dalam pesawat dalam penerbangan beliau ke Kuala Lumpur.

Pegawai Kewangan Persekutuan telah memaklumkan andainya Jabatan tersebut menjadi kenyataan beliau telah meminta peranan JKR dalam memantau projek-projek tersebut diletakkan dibawahi Kewangan Persekutuan Sabah. Saya mohon maaf kerana Nota saya sudah disampaikan sehari sebelumnya.

Saya berpesan kepada Pegawai Research, supaya mana2 jabatan yang diletakkan untuk berbincang dan mengambil keputusan dalam projek pembangunan di Sabah mestilah mempunyai pendirian bebas tanpa dikongkong oleh jabatan lain. Tujuan untuk menentukan supaya pertimbangan check and balance sentiasa ada dalam pelaksanaan projek-projek.

Dalam hubungan yang sama projek mestilah berperanan untuk menaikkan taraf ekonomi Sabah, membentuk semula pemikiran politik yang matang, membangunkan kesejahteraan, kemajuan rakyat Sabah dan memelihara perhubungan antara pusat dan negeri. Untuk itu garisan quota penganggihan harus berada dalam skala, 30/30/30/10. Artinya 30% untuk bumiputera, 30% kumpulan politik, 30% pasaran terbuka sementara 10% atas kebijaksanaan Pemimpin politik itu sendiri.

Syukur Alhamdulillah YAB Perdana Menteri telah mengumumkan pembentukan Jabatan Pembangunan Sabah dalam Perhimpunan Agong UMNO pada 1hb November, 1990. Keputusan yang sama juga di buat untuk Kelantan.

Peruntukan pertama yang sampai di Sabah sebanyak 200 juta dan programme nya dilaksanakan oleh KEMAS negeri oleh kerana JPPS belum menyelesaikan structure Jabatan mereka di Kota Kinabalu.
Dalam melaksanakan cita-cita tersebut kontraktor-kontraktor di Sabah hendaklah didaftarkan semula dari Class A hingga F, sambil mengadakan kursus-kursus bimbingan. Perlu saya sebutkan ketika kita membuat research hanya seorang sahaja di Sabah ini yang mempunyai lesen kontraktor Kelas A pada masa itu. Kalau beliau berjaya dalam perniagaan dan kaya tidak siapa yang harus menyangkal kebolehan beliau kerana beliau tahu membaca keadaan perniagaan pada ketika itu, walau pun pada hari ini memegang jawatan kerajaan yang tertinggi di Sabah.

Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan Negeri Sabah yang wujud lebih 20 tahun telah melalui perjalanan yang begitu jauh untuk membangunkan Sabah dan pernah saya sebutkan kepada seorang Menteri kanan Persekutuan bahawa matelamat pembangunan melalui JPPS sudah pun tercapai. Oleh kerana Kerajaan Negeri didalam tangan BN maka peranan JPPS haruslah dihentikan. Ada perkara yang tersirat yang tidak diketahui oleh pelaksana bahawa kuasa JPPS boleh mengurangkan pengaruh pemimpin2 negeri kerana itulah matelamat utama JPPS.

Falsafah inilah yang mungkin menjadi ikutan di hari-hari muka ini, bahawa Kerajaan Negeri tidak perlu di maklumkan dimana projek-projek pembangunan akan dijalankan dan apakah nilai projek yang bakal dibawa masuk.

Saya tidak tahu sama ada Kerajaan pusat apabila mengumumkan sesuatu projek membawa nama Ketua Kerajaan Negeri dan Cabinet dalam acara-acara rakyat. Mudah-mudahan ada. Umpamanya bila menyebut Kerajaan Pusat setelah berbincangkan dengan YAB Ketua Menteri Sabah dan Cabinet Negeri bersetuju akan melaksanakan projek A atau B dikawasan ini. Ini adalah bahasa politik, bahasa Kerajaan yang harus menjadi amalan kepada setiap pemimpin yang masuk ke Sabah untuk membawa projek. Disitulah letaknya seni dalam menatang hubungan antara pusat dan negeri.

Sebab ada pendapat yang mengatakan satu-satu projek yang turun ke Sabah tidak semestinya datang dari Satu Kementerian sahaja. Dari Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Kementerian-Kementerian, EPU, ICU sendiri dan pelbagai agensi. Dalam satu segi ia dikatakan decentralise, wal hal ia juga centralise.

Kerana wujudnya suasana demikian pemimpin-pemimpin bawahan, malahan kontraktor2 juga berpusu-pusu ke Kuala Lumpur cuba mewujudkan rangkaian peribadi masing-masing.

Secara tidak langsung ini melahirkan suatu suasana untuk membangunkan power base masing2 dengan rangkaiannya terus kepada penyokong-penyokong dipelbagai peringkat pimpinan politik dan kontaktor-kontroktar. Saya teringat bila saya menjadi Ketua Bahaagian UMNO amat mudah untuk berjumpa dengan Menteri-Menteri Persekutuan.

Setelah saya tidak lagi dalam jawatan UMNO, walau pun bergelar Datuk, ada sahaja alasan yang diberikan oleh Pegawai Menteri tersebut untuk mengelakkan diri bertemu dengan saya. Satu hari saya aka namakan Menteri yang bahagia ini. Saya hampir menulis surat terbuka dengan Menteri tersebut supaya jangan panggil saya abang lagi, kerana dia lupa kepada budi saya memberi undi kepada beliau untuk jadi Ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO. Beliau bukannya tahu apa sebenarnya yang mahu saya sampaikan dalam pertemuan itu. Tidak semestinya projek.

Sistem seumpama ini sudah menjadi satu masaalah yang besar kerana terdapat kelemahan dalam cara pengagihan projek. Oleh kerana tidak dibendung awal timbul lah kejadian-kejadian dimana terdapat jumlah besar wang yang disorok dan dapat dirampas oleh Badan Pencegah Rasuah dari laci2, almari2 dan pelbagai tempat dari pegawai-pegawai yang mengambil kesempatan kerana terlihat oleh mereka ada kerenggangan para pemimpin dari maklumat-maklumat pembangunannya yang boleh diambil kesempatan untuk memesungkan dana-dana yang tidak bersih.

Walau pun ada kecurangan tapi kerajaan masih mampu meletakkan system penyampaian Negara pada paras yang sehat, kerana badan pencegah rasuah berjaya mengesan permainan projek dalam jabatan Kerajaan sehingga berjaya merampas wang-wang penipuan. Ini berarti system mengesan keselamatan dan kewangan kita masih terjamin dan dapat dipelihara dengan sebaik mungkin

Beberapa tahun yang lalu saya telah mencadangkan supaya JPPS ditutup dan kuasanya di turunkan terus kepada Ketua Menteri Sabah. Sehari seleas membuat cadangan itu Kerajaan Persekutuan telah menutup JPPS dengan serta merta. Tidak semestinya ini disebabkan kerana ditegur, kerana sebelulm ini pun ada juga suara-suara yang memanggil supaya ia ditutup akibat terlalu banyak pertelagahan dalam pelaksanaan projek-projek di Sabah. Memang sukar untuk mengendalikan projek-projek di Sabah, kerana permintaan terlalu mendesak dan sentiasa diasak. Malahan kerap kali ia mencabar perasaan dan kesabaran. Namun banyak yang boleh dipelajari dari pengalaman JPPS apa bila bertemu dengan permintaan Kerajaan, para pemimpin politik dan rakyat. Apa pun ia juga merupakan satu lagi cerita kejayaan Kerajaan.

Sudah tentu terima kasih kepada semua pegawai-pegawai JPPS daripada mula jabatan ini diperkenalkan di Sabah adalah kena pada tempatnya.. Apa pun yang mahu diperkatakan namun indeks pembangunan di Sabah semenjak tahun tahun 1990 mencapai taraf yang amat membanggakan disebabkan usaha yang gigih dan keyakinan pegawai-pegawai dan pemimpin politik untuk melaksanakan programme pembangunan untuk rakyat.

Ketika Datuk Seri Panglima Osu Sukam menjadi Ketua Menteri, saya telah mencadangkan melalui akhbar supaya satu pasukan pemantau ditubuhkan untuk memantau gaya kehidupan dan kelakuan pegawai-pegawai dan pemimpn-pemimpin Kerajaan.

Memang sukar untuk membezakan diantara pergaulan yang sehat mahu pun yang jujur, disebalik perhubunganya manusia yang mempunyai muslihat. Kalau tidak ada kedudukan dan berjawatan sudah tentu tidak ada yang harus dipertikaikan. Akan tetapi apabila ada pihak yang berani berbelanja diluar dari kemampuan pendapatan pastinya ia akan menjadi tanda Tanya dan kecurigaan yang merupakan material kepada badan pemantaun.

Cadangan ini telah ditolak kerana ada yang merasakan Badan Pencegah Rasuah sudah memadai untuk memainkan peranan. Oleh kerana sudah ada isu, hari ini saya ceritakan. Tugas Badan memelihara integerasi boleh menegur untuk mengelakkan kecurangan. Dengan rasuah, kerana ia sudah berlaku maka tindakannya jauh berbeza. Teguran boleh mendatang pelbagai makna, dibuang kerja, diturunkan pangkat, dipindah atau hilang kedudukan.

Apa yang ditekankan oleh YAB Ketua Menteri haruslah dipandang serious oleh semua pihak dan mestilah diberikan sokongan dalam mencari punca masaalah yang menjadi penyebab kelemahan kepada system yang ada. Dari itu cadangan untuk membuat rombakan atau “review” memang wajar.
Dalam Kerajaan Berjaya, projek-projek dipamerkan dan mungkin spesifikasi juga dipamerkan bersama. Oleh itu semua pihak yang berminat maklum dan secara tidak langsung boleh menjalankan pelbagai odit keatas projek tersebut.

Adalah molek semua projek yang masuk ke Sabah di maklumkan kepada Ketua Menteri, setidak-tidaknya senarainya disampaikan melalui mesyuarat-mesyuarat Majlis Tindakan Negeri. Yang Paling baik lagi kalau sesuatu projek itu mendapat perkenan oleh Kerajaan Negeri supaya mendapat kefahaman bahawa projek itu dipohonkan oleh kawasan-kawasan dimana dengan Kerjasama dua kerajaan ia disampakan kepada rakyat.

Projek pembangunan adalah modal besar dalam politik, jika maklumat penuh tidak diperolehi, pemimpin-pemimpin tempatan yang berperanan sebagai “pegawai perhubungan rakyat” tidak akan dapat menjual cerita politik mereka dengan mudah dan dianggap tidak menjalankan tugas untuk membawa perubahan kepada kawasan masing-masing.

Mungkin kedudukan pegawai-pegawai Kerajaan juga harus dikaji semula supaya tidak seorang pun harus duduk dengan begitu lama dalam jabatan-jabatan yang strategic yang ada hubungannya dengan pembekalan dan pelaksanaan projek. Ini untuk mengelakkan jangan sampai pegawai-pegawai-pegawai di bebankan dengan tafsirarn atas keinginan dan hasrat untuk mencari kesempatan buat diri sendiri.

Dari titik tolak atas adanya kambing-kambing hitam, Kerajaan Sabah masih mempunyai ramai kakitangan yang dedikasi dan bekerja dengan tungkus lumus untuk memajukan Sabah. Sudah tentu sesuatu yang terbaik akan lahir selepas kita mengahdapi gejala rasuah yang menular dalam masyarakat.

Ketua Menteri adalah satu Institiusi. Dalam perhubugan antara Kerajaan Pusat dan Negeri, kedudukan Ketua Menteri haruslah sentiasa dipelihara demi menjaga keutuhan Kerajaan itu sendiri dimana para pemimpin saling bergantung untuk menjaga martabat masing-masing. Dari situ kita harus bangunkan keyakinan rakyat supaya Kerajaan dapat melahirkan satu wadah kecemerlangan disebalik kejayaan Kerajaan Negeri yang telah berjaya mengumpulkan dana yang besar sebagai reserve kerajaan.

Saya juga mencadangkan supaya segala wang penipuan yang telah dirampas oleh Badan Pencegah Rasuah dikembalikan ke Sabah dan di masukkan dalam tabung pendidikan, yang mana sebilangan besar penuntut kita hari ini sedang berhadapan dengan perbelanjaan yang meningkat akibat ekonomi dunia yang tidak menentu.

http://www.malaysia-today.net/dont-mess-up-the-system/


Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has ordered for an immediate review to be carried out on procurement procedures, monitoring and financial management of all state departments and agencies, particularly those involving allocations and funds outside the state budget.

In a statement issued in Kota Kinabalu today, Musa, who is also Sabah finance minister, gave his assurance that the review would not affect the ongoing Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation into the alleged corruption involving two top officials of a Sabah government agency.

“The review will focus on the procurement procedures and monitoring of all state departments and agencies involved in the management of funds that are outside the state budget and those channelled through the ministry, departments and outside agencies.

“At the same time, I also call on all quarters to give full cooperation to the MACC. Do not act ahead of the MACC, including in issuing statements that can disrupt their investigations,” he said.

Musa also said that the state government had always been committed to fighting corruption and had always placed integrity compliance as the main principle in every aspect, including in the management of state’s finance.

Yesterday, MACC arrested a director and a deputy director of Sabah Water department over suspicion of having monopolised projects under the purview of their department and awarding them to their relatives. Both senior officers were said to have handled infrastructure construction projects valued at more than RM3.3 billion since 2010. This particular RM3.3 billion worth of federal projects is under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development and Shafie Apdal was Minister then. MACC has also picked up the deputy director’s brother and an accountant, who is believed to have helped managed the ill-gotten gains. Their arrests led to the seizure of RM112 million cash, including that recovered from bank accounts belonging to the senior officers and their family members. A total of RM52 million in cash was confiscated during raids at the officers’ offices and homes. The four suspects are being remanded for seven days.

This case is “the biggest cash bust” in the history of MACC involving civil servants.


Oliver Cromwell – Dissolution of the Long Parliament speech given to the House of Commons, 20 April 1653.

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”



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.


For long, Sabah was considered a “poverty” state, what with extreme destitution, a massive influx of illegal immigrants and corruption being considered synonymous with the state. But all that is now history. The state is now on the fast track to shed its “poverty” tag, having achieved one of the highest GDP growth rates in recent years. The iconic changes have been ushered in by the Musa Aman-led government after he took over the reins in 2003.

The metamorphosis has not gone unnoticed in the country as well as abroad. Sabah is now considered a state on the move, thanks to improvement in governance, law and order, infrastructure and financial discipline. “My first three priorities are governance, governance and governance,” Musa had once said. The stress on governance was primarily because of his finding that Sabah had suffered not just because of bad governance but also due to a lack of it. After taking oath as the chief minister, he embarked on the journey of development with justice. Till recently, it was beyond the people’s imagination that Sabah could embark on a trajectory of development, and an inclusive and equitable one too.

Profile of the state started changing since late 2003. Plan expenditure leapfrogged from RM1.22 billion in 1984 to RM3.84 billion in 2013. The annual growth rate of Gross State Domestic Product, which averaged 2.42% between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, jumped to 7.36% for 2013. Even tourism receipts of RM 6.35 billion for 2013 was the highest record where 3.3 million tourist arrivals of which 2.29 million was domestic arrivals. This growth rate and the consequent transformation in the economic profile of the state made the country sit up and take notice, since it had surpassed many developed states.

“Sabah’s turnaround illustrates how a handful of seemingly small changes can yield big results in Sabah’s most impoverished and badly governed districts. Sabah is a textbook case of how leadership determines development. At a recent speech at the premier assembly with members of the State and Federal public service personnel at the auditorium Menara Tun Mustapha, Musa said since the people have given the mandate to the Barisan National to lead the people in Sabah, it was imperative for civil servants to deliver and ensure the success of policies and programmes that had been planed.

In the same speech he also talked about prudence, he being in the East-coast of Sabah in Brumas a week ago, visiting Yayasan Sabah subsidary the Sabah SoftWoods, and the next day he had to go for Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching’s Chinese New Year Open House in Tawau. He could have driven down from Brumas to Tawau which was just an hour’s drive and stayed at the Promenade Hotel’s suite with a few other rooms for his security personals. This could have easily cost the state RM five thousand, but he refused to spent that money and instead stayed on at YS Guest house for free. He was similiarly requested by former deputy chief Minister of Sabah, Tham Nyip Shen to come down to Tawau and stay in comfort at the hotel but Musa adamantly refused. Now we know how Musa accumulated more than RM3 billion in cash reserves for the Sabah state government.

Remember, under Musa, Sabah has been given recognition by the Auditor-General for its financial administration and 9 agencies, including district offices and departments, all having been given four-star rating. Many who had given up on Sabah are constantly astonished by the ‘turnaround’ of the state. Musa Aman has achieved the status of a miracle worker.  How did he manage to resurrect the state? Musa works well under Prime Minister  Najib Tun Razak and his younger Foreign Minister brother Anifah is also a political ally of Najib. Putrajaya sees him as someone who is reliable and the Prime Minister even once said to Musa, “I have been to all the states but when I think about Sabah, I can sleep well.”

Musa is a professional manager. His years as a banker, businessman and Sabah Finance Minister has certainly proven to be of great help to Sabahans. But more than a minister or chief minister, Musa thinks of himself as a politician. A professional politician. Although he exudes an air of supremacy but he is still humble. When he took over as chief minister in 2003, he would often remind civil servants that his ministry had the greatest stake in the performance of the government, not the bureaucracy. If the government achieved success, his ministry would get all the credit; if it failed, his ministry would have to bear all the blame. In short the bureaucrats wouldn’t have lost their jobs – He would. So, from the outset, he concentrated on driving the bureaucracy. During the years when Sabah had so many chief ministers at the helm, the bureaucracy had stopped thinking because the leader never provoked them, or taking action because it was not expected of them. Problems remained unresolved in the absence of ideas. Implementation of programmes lagged for lack of exertion.

The twin problems Musa faced were of his people suffering and him having to propel a paraplegic bureaucracy to join him in his attempt to resolve that suffering. In the initial few months of his first tenure Musa held long meetings with officers of all departments. He tried to understand where things stood, where they were going wrong, and in the process also gauge the quality of senior bureaucrats: how much each bureaucrat understood his job, whether he had new ideas to offer, how much of a leader he was; who was a charlatan, who had a social conscience, who was earnest, who was a shirker.

Musa used a hands-on approach in all areas. That was his style. He would not be there just to frame policies and draw up programmes and leave the implementation to the bureaucracy. He did not believe in the conventional method of governance as it had come to be followed in post-Independence Sabah. He believed implementation was the key. Governments usually faltered on implementation. Ministers would call officers to meetings and lecture them on policies and programmes, and there the involvement ended. Once the officers saw the chief minister individually involved, they got involved themselves. There was somebody watching them. Musa regularly monitored the progress of the programmes. That kept up the momentum.

Sermons did not help; what worked was the delegation of powers. Responsibility would still be considered a burden by officers if no authority was given to them. Musa framed a policy delegating authority down the line from the minister of a department to the junior-most officer for approval of projects of a progressively declining amount. Authority for approval of projects and freedom of action alone, however, could not have brought about the success in his ‘Halatuju’ development framework for the state which focused on tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing. There was a wholly new driving force he had created that worked wonders. Musa was even successful in further preventing occurrence of another Lahad Datu Style intrusion by bloodthirsty crackpots from Southern Philippines. The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has stepped up security measures, with heightened alert from the military and police, in the 10 districts placed under the Esszone.

Sabah is far from becoming a paradise despite these initiatives.

The best that can be said of the transformation Musa Aman has brought is that he has pulled Sabah back from the dead. That is a significant accomplishment in itself. At last Sabah has shown stirrings of life. But there is a long way to go but Musa has put the Sabah administration back on an even keel and brought changes to the state.

In a recent development, unscrupulous elements are trying to drum up religious sentiments in Sabah to disrupt harmony among peaceful Sabahns. So I asked Musa what his take is on this. Interestingly, he said “Sabahans must get on with their lives and not be carried away by certain quarters who are trying to create chaos and confusion. Sabahans must take heed of the experience of countries that fell into abyss from prosperity due to distrust and lack of respect for each other’s religion and belief. The present generation and leadership should strive for excellence to be inherited by the next generation, instead of destruction, sufferings and misery.”

Musa said about the changing Sabah: “The state is experiencing all-round development because of our policy of ensuring that the benefits of development first go to those at the bottom of the social ladder. Over the years, we rose above the feelings of race and religion, and have worked tirelessly on the agenda of inclusive development of the state.” Musa believes in the maxim of “miles to go before I sleep”. He once told me “I work 24×7 without a break, thinking often of the philosophy of uninterrupted service day and night. I understand this will need to go on without any let-up, so that more and more people join hands to bring a brighter future. I am not fully satisfied with the work done. But one has to remain dissatisfied only to move ahead with vigour. I feel satisfied seeing the happy faces of people, who are now living without any fear.”


I remember Musa Aman once told me that he bought a property in Cairo on behalf of the Sabah State Government for accommodation for Sabahan students studying there. Years later he bought another property in Alexandria also for the same purpose. While traveling from Cairo to Alexandria by road, Musa said he saw only arid land all the way. 5 years ago before Mubarak was ousted Musa made another trip by road from Cairo to Alexandria and was totally surprise that the the arid land he saw earlier had been transformed into green fields producing all kinds of vegetables, including tomatoes, cabbages and potatoes. Today its a different picture all together.

The carnage and discontent in Egypt is a sad example of what a civilised society has come to mean today. While the Arab Spring did in fact raise hopes of a democratic construct, all efforts towards such an event seem to have been forgotten.

Mohamed Morsi’s government was no doubt elected through the ballot. But does it make it truly democratic? How can an Islamic government, of the Islamic Brotherhood, be fully democratic guaranteeing the fundamental rights of individuals as generally understood? Even the Soviet bloc countries called themselves democracies or socialist democracies. May be the army in Egypt (and its western supporters) fear with reason that a Morsi dispensation would lead to a slide back, from the modernity gained so far, to eventual religious fundamentalism.

People’s protests too could be very reckless and violent when motivated by passions of a religious origin and combined with the Army’s usual brutal methods of suppression. Therefore, it is not surprising that there continues to be a heavy loss of civilian lives.

The persistent silence and reticence of the U.S. and the western block are rather intriguing in that the U.S., in particular, has chosen not to call the obvious coup a coup and is overlooking this development as if nothing has taken place at all; only to pre-empt the automatic stoppage of the aid to Egypt’s new regime. Even though the U.S. overtly proclaims to champion the cause of democracy and do business only with such countries, it has not hesitated to dilute that policy any number of times to advance its interests. It is unlikely that the U.S. will be in a hurry to bring about a truce.

If the Egyptian Army is the cause of the present situation by its direct military action, the Muslim Brotherhood too is equally responsible for fostering violence for political purposes. The Brotherhood is alleged to have terrorised numerous minorities, revealing its true face. In the past year, it has paid scant respect to human rights.

A bloodbath is never a solution to political struggle. The situation there calls for effective intervention by the United Nations and other nations. But sad, cannot see a Malaysian opinion, Malaysia have become a nation without a stand!


In October 7, 2003, when the Sabah economy was going through turmoil, Musa Aman took charge of Sabah as the Chief Minister. Turn to March 2008 Barisan National and Musa Aman in Sabah is stronger than ever. BN had swept the polls in Sabah retaining power with more than two-thirds majority winning 59 out of 60 seats contested. In this age of fragmented polity where getting a majority seems unreal, BN under Musa Aman bagged 65 percent of the votes in almost all the places. Interesting to note is that these poll victories continued even two years later in 2010 when the PBS won Batu Sapi Parliamentary constituency in a by-election.

Then in May 5th 2013, Musa Aman breaks the 9-year CM jinx and becomes the longest serving chief minster in the history of Sabah and brings Barisan National to another impressive two-thirds victory for the state seats and winning 22 out of the 25 Parliamentary seats. How did Musa Aman and the people of Sabah make all this possible?

One particular remark of Musa Aman caught my pride and attention. He claimed that only politics of development can do something good, not the politics of vote bank. He said, “I have succeeded to deliver my message that politics of vote bank or politics of appeasement would not do any good, but the politics of development would do.” The truth in this statement is the future of Sabah. The truth in this statement will bring in faith of the Sabah population into the political democracy. Development, prosperity and improvement of the standards of living will and can bring in a permanent political stability. And will tag along prosperity with stability.

Today we are being short-sighted. The political attitude is of vote bank politics, ‘blanket’ politics, immediate selfish goals and corruption ridden personal growth. It is vicious cycle that takes us away from socio-economic development. Musa Aman also could have been short-sighted. He could have assumed his imminent fall in the elections and could have concentrated his energies in making as much wealth as possible for a lifetime. Instead he chose the difficult path of development. He once said, “An opportunity to work is good luck for me. I put my soul into it. Each such opportunity opens the gates for the next one.”

Faced with massive economic losses brought in by 2001, he concentrated on reorganizing the government’s administrative structure including Yayasan Sabah and embarked upon a massive cost-cutting exercise when he took over as chief minister in 2003. As a result of Sabah government efforts under the guidance of Musa, Sabah registered a GDP growth rate of over 5% during his first tenure. This was one the highest growth rate among all the Malaysian states.

Sabah is probably the only state witnessing more than 7% growth for a long time and also the only state growing higher than the country’s 5-6 per cent growth. Sabah is growing faster than some of the ASEAN economies. Plan expenditure has also leapfrogged from RM 2 billion plus in 2003-04 to RM 4 billion plus in 2012-13. It’s all about security, infrastructure development, transparent policies and prudent State fiscal management, which have contributed to Sabah’s growth.

During my stay in Tenom, I remember Padas River a notoriously polluted river had begun to be transformed and now appeared to be much cleaner, although the water was still extremely yellowish with siltation brought down from the upper parts of Keningau and Trusmadi the second highest mountain in Sabah, now it is flowing bank to bank and the water is better quality. If the Padas River has begun to meander once again, that’s because the water is flowing freely from the upper parts of Keningau and Trusmadi, courtesy the ambitious river-cleaning project of Musa Aman.

Padas River in full flow is an apt metaphor for the miracle that Musa Aman has pulled off in making Tenom a model for rural/urban development. Today it boasts of wide roads, shorter time to reach Brunei, Lawas, Sipitang and even Kota Kinabalu, better traffic control and minimum traffic congestion and ample green spaces and the cleanest town in Sabah. It is a delight to hear Musa Aman speak about development. He once said, “Our roads will be as good as the Autobahns of Germany”.

Development of roads in the state epitomizes this wind of change. When a foreign tourist, who has been visiting tourist spots in the state for long, whom I met recently in Tenom was asked about the most visible change, he said it was road and the “Tenom Coffee”. Sabah, for long, remained infamous for its bad roads and pitiable connectivity. People suffered due to utter lack of connectivity. Though the state is criss-crossed by several rivers, there were very few bridges across them, forcing people to make long detours to reach their destination just across the river.

Musa said about the changing Sabah: “The state is experiencing all-round development because of our policy of ensuring that the benefits of development first go to those at the bottom of the social ladder. Over the years, we rose above the feelings of race and religion which Sabah is all about, and have worked tirelessly on the agenda of inclusive development of the state.”

It’s a proud moment for Sabah that a political leader is showing us the path of long term development to win a democratic election, to be a popular leader. This is learning and teaching to all the national and regional political parties, who have not been far-sighted like Musa Aman.

Lets salute to the power of development.


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.


Development without corruption is an ideal situation in Malaysian politics. Corruption and development is, at a stretch, somewhat acceptable. But corruption without development is completely unacceptable. Sadly, the Malaysian political scene has somehow have found ourselves in the second scenario and moving rapidly towards the last scenario. And it is within this such formula that incumbent Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the undisputed leader of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Chairman of the ruling coalition in Sarawak’s victory in the recent 10th Sarawak state elections 2011, needs to be seen.

The issue whether or not Taib Mahmud is a clean politician was never the key. It was whether Taib Mahmud had delivered, and on that count he scored. Perhaps not in the most raring of percentages but but he was adequately high on a scale of one to ten. In the Malaysian context, irrespective of corruption, development scores. If a politician at the helm of affairs demonstrates his intent and will to deliver as well as takes positive steps in that direction, similar to that of the Taib Mahmud Sarawakian government, then the electorate reposes its faith in him. This more often than not overlooks the incumbency factor. Taib Mahmud was voted in as chief minister for eight terms: the last one going beyond anyone’s expectations. The grapevine has it that Taib himself was not sure of winning but the people voted him in on three counts; the first being that only he can keep UMNO from coming into Sarawak, the second being that he had done for Sarawak what no other Chief Minister had and third being that development was high on the agenda.

There were stories about several family members benefiting billions during his regime but those allegations waned in the face of the work he had done. A great deal still remains undone but his intention and will to work benefited the people who voted him in and this alone is enough reason for the electorate to back him and ensure his return to office which he held for eight terms. In the case of Dr Mahathir, the issue also worked in his favour was the perception that his heart beats for the Malays although he is half-Indian and that even while the party or his confidantes made money left, right and center, he had electoral support till of course he made the fatal mistake of sacking Anwar Ibrahim for corruption and sodomy charges.

In Malaysia, race, religion or corruption comes into play when development takes a backseat. In situations like this, non-performing politicians have a field day in exploiting race and religion blocks to their advantage and they often succeed. Koh Tsu Koon was able to rule Penang and later managed to name chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan as his successor primarily because he helped UMNO and had the support of the Feds in the center, get electoral power and in turn had a role in decision making. But what dented Koh Tsu Koon’s unassailable position were his non-performance and confining his tenure solely to UMNO politics. That worked initially but later Penangites wanted results of governance where of course he failed miserably. The consequence: a total rout from which recovery seems a near impossibility as the recent 2008 election-results have demonstrated.

This is in great contrast with Lim Guan Eng’s human development agenda in which the situation is crystal-clear. Koh Tsu Koon’s UMNO discrepant policies brought Lim Guan Eng center-stage: His initial victory had little to do with him and more with being the protégé of then Penang Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu and UMNO. Koh Tsu Koon’s Parti Gerakan who vouched for him throughout the years deserted him on the grounds that his UMNO sucking up politics were limited to his family and an inner circle comprising his relatives and maybe a handful of supporters. At the macro level Koh Tsu Koon had failed to deliver or do anything for the state, they argued. Worse still, he had put the clock back.

Lim Guan Eng reign checked these: corruption, accountability and transparency and followed this up with development. Not only did he bring back the dignity of Penangites but also stressed on the state’s CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) principles. It is after many years in Penang that the state is finally transparent in its governance. In the face of all this, whether Lim Guan Eng and his minions are corrupted or not were non issues when it comes to voting him and his boys back to power. This can be said about Taib Mahmud or Musa Aman for that matter. Upon a better look, the way Musa Aman went about getting The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah to investigate the Mother of ALL Problems, “Project IC”, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners, was a brilliant move in spite of so much objections and even sabotage by Shafie Apdal and some UMNO Sabah chaps. Despite the drama he still managed to get it thru and convince Premier Najib against all odds, that this is the true meaning of development!

I stand corrected on my theory that people accept corruption only if it rides piggyback on development and never the former without the latter. Lim Guan Eng substantiates the first and Koh Tsu Koon the second. And although the the third option of development without corruption is an ideal situation, it is sadly rarely found in Malaysian politics. Even honest politicians, Musa Aman, who was voted in on grounds of his honesty and integrity, rued the fact that political parties need money to survive.

So with the way things are, it is less about corruption and more about being found out. Or even getting caught. Hence, solo development or clean governance in Malaysian politics is an ideal situation. In lieu with this, I have to single out Former Prime Ministers Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn whose integrity is beyond doubt, despite the various scams their Government had been besmeared with. But ask the man on the street or even Tengku or Tun Hussein Onn’s former political rivals and they will charge them with inaction but not dishonesty. In this case the clean image scores over governance.