Posts Tagged ‘Sabah’


Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman has urged European Union member countries to stop its ongoing campaign against the oil palm industry.

He said it was rather unfortunate that some of the EU member countries had painted a negative image in an attempt to boycott the industry.

Those who were against the industry must realise that Malaysia has 680,000 oil palm smallholders, of whom 200,000 are from Sabah, that happens to be the largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) in the country, he claimed.

“A negative campaign or boycott could affect global CPO prices. What is going to happen to these smallholders whose livelihoods depend on oil palm?

“This could mean loss of income for them and their families,” he said during a courtesy call by a 14-member EU Delegation of Ambassadors led by ambassador and head of delegation of the EU to Malaysia, Maria Castillo Fernandez, at his office in Kota Kinabalu today.

Musa, who is also the state finance minister, said the Sabah government had taken steps to ensure the oil palm industry continued to be sustainable, which included the launch of a programme in 2015 to have all CPO produced from Sabah to be Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

In that endeavour, he said the Sabah government had the support of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to guide the CSPO process, and hoped the EU member countries could keep an open mind on the matter.

Musa further said that Sabah adopted one of the best forest management and environmental conservation practices in this region.

The state government has gazetted 26 percent of its total land mass as totally protected areas, which exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of only 10 per cent.

“We are actually targeting 30 percent or 2.2 million hectares, which we are confident of achieving in the next five years, if not earlier,” he said.

The chief minister said it must also be noted that Sabah had restored and planted forests well over 700,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

“I must tell you the Sabah story on forest management, so you can tell it to your European communities…concerted efforts with concrete results are being made and this must be made known to the world,” he stressed.

He also informed the delegation of the state government’s close ties with the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who continued to focus on the needs of Sabah in terms of allocations to fund development initiatives.

Musa looked forward to continue cooperation with the EU countries in terms of trade, investment, tourism and culture, alluding to the EU film festival that was launch this evening.

Meanwhile, Fernandez assured Musa there was no official boycott against the oil palm industry by EU member countries, but that there was a debate on the issue of oil palm and deforestation.

“We want to reach out to the stakeholders in Malaysia and engage in a dialogue to better understand the industry so we can explain it to the European communities,” she said.

French Ambassador to Malaysia, Frederic Laplanche said the good work done on forest conservation in Sabah must be acknowledged, in which the state had been forward-looking and deserved the EU support in the spirit of cooperation.

Bernama

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If we consider the political scenario of Sabah, we find very few effective and influential leaders. The reason being, the majority of the political parties are still using the old ways of influencing the voters with religion and race based politics and we lack leaders with strong development agenda coupled with tough decision-making capabilities. To stay at par with the fast changing world, we cannot rely on politicians who have been using the traditional political games for their own benefits. But, there have been some leaders who have been successful to eliminate the stagnancy of the political borders and proved themselves as influential leaders focused on the development and a work-oriented approach.

Tan Sri Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah, has been one of the most inspiring leader who has emerged in the Sabah political landscape and given a ray of hope to Sabahans.

Musa Aman, became the Chief Minister of Sabah in 2003. He has proved his credibility and capability by fulfilling all the promises made during the elections in the past 14 years. Another differentiating factor for Musa has been his clean image and zero tolerance towards corruption. Although his stance has been one of the reasons for a feud with some of the former senior party leaders, Musa Aman has proved his toughness by taking strict actions whenever required. This clean, clear and straight approach certainly puts him in a different league of his own.

When it comes to development, no other CM or Menteri Besar in the country can match up to Musa’s level. Under his regime, various exemplary infrastructure projects have been undertaken and initiated, the major projects include Sabah Pan Borneo Highway a 706-kilometre highway upgraded from a two-lane dual carriageway to a four-lane, the building and upgrading of roads included three multi-level interchanges in Kota Kinabalu, the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project which will transform Tanjung Aru into one of the region’s best tourist spots. And as of Sept this year, the number of projects approved is 647 namely 304 extension projects and 343 new projects. Among the projects are the, rural clean drinking water and electricity supplies, rural roads and people’s housing programme.

Other initiatives such as parks, cycling tracks, stadiums, promotion of rural tourism, tree plantation drives and even releasing of baby sea turtles hatchings and the free Wifi service in Kota Kinabalu has gained Musa a large following and a feeling of belongingness even with the youth of the state.

The launching of the first Malaysia Art School (Sekolah Seni Malaysia) Sabah at the Sandakan Education Hub is another example. The love of art and music among Sabahans is obvious and the setting up of the art school in Sandakan has provided space and opportunity for youngsters who want to pursue their studies in arts. Sabah is known for its different ethnics, races and cultures and Sabahans are also known to be talented in arts and singing. Sabah is a rich repository of art, culture and traditions and the state government under Musa has committed to preserve and further promote it and the youth can play a vital role in this direction. Hence, this art school in the Sandakan Education Hub will not only ensure that  Sabah traditional cultures such as dances will not be lost in time, but it will also provide opportunities for Sabahans to enhance their talents in arts. Besides, music is food for the soul and Sabah is universally acclaimed for its diverse folk songs and versatile musicians.

The chief minister knows the youth are the key players in the process of development and the state government has to empower them with positive perspectives so as to fully harness their potential. And hence, providing training,  adequate employment and self-employment opportunities to the youth of the state was the prime concern of the state government.

When it comes to the younger generations and people concerned about development using new-age technologies, Musa Aman has made a mark for himself, which is next to impossible for anyone else to achieve. With the digitization of various government departments, a host of useful apps for information and faster grievance redressal, instant assistance and help for emergency situations, Musa has made the best optimal utilization of technology for the modernization of the state and benefit of the people. Although we usually hear the terms women safety and empowerment frequently in the political manifestos, it has been actually implemented in Sabah with schemes like Sabah Women TH50 an entrepreneurial programme ‘Creating Millionaires Among Young Women Entrepreneurs (Cream)’ and Micro Credit & Usahawan Desa.

According to so many Opinion Polls, Musa is ranked as one of the best Chief Minister across Malaysia. So, when we come to his comparison with the past CM’s of the state, nobody stands even close to him for consideration. If we take into account the upcoming general elections expected before May 2018, the CM candidate for Gabungan Sabah is Dr Jeffrey Kitingan while Shafie Apdal being the CM candidate for PH Warisan plus. Considering these leaders, Musa definitely comes as a preferred choice for the people due to his clean image and orientation towards development.

After 14 years Musa has not only proved to be a successful leader whose agenda is development and modernization but also he has displayed a strong political acumen. His ideology of “Work says it all”, displays his confidence of the several positive developments undertaken by him. Previously, Sabah used to be in the news only for the wrong reasons and various controversies surrounding the CMs, but due to the efforts and personal character of Musa, the perception of people has changed towards Sabah, Sabah is seen in a good and positive light. While it becomes difficult to compare any existing and potential candidate with him for the position of the Chief Minister of Sabah, if we take into account the previous 12 chief ministers of Sabah ( Faud Stephens, Peter Lo, Tun Mustapha, Mohammad Said Keruak, Harris Salleh, Pairin Kitingan, Tun Sakaran Dandai, Salleh Said Keruak, Yong Teck Lee, Bernard Dompok, Osu Sukam and Chong Kah Keat), Musa Aman certainly emerges out as one of the best and most influential CM until now.

 


Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said Parti Warisan Sabah president Mohd Shafie Apdal should let MACC do its job in investigating alleged corruption involving the Rural and Regional Development Ministry during the latter’s tenure as its minister.

He said Shafie should be more composed in handling the situation, instead of hurling accusations at others and trying to implicate others.

“There is no need to act all panicky. There is nothing to fear if you are not in the wrong, like the Malay saying ‘Berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah’ (bold because you’re right, fearful if you’re wrong),” he told reporters today.

Musa said up till now, he had not said a word about the case despite being openly attacked in the latter’s political ceramahs and social media.

”However, today I feel compelled to say something because he tried to implicate me in Parliament by saying someone related to me got a project.

“I was not even aware of the project in question. I have a large extended family. I can’t stop those who are friendly to Shafie from getting projects,” he said.

image: https://i.malaysiakini.com/1171/4a701e5393f49dbd8d51ae0248bcb535.jpeg

He said Shafie (photo) should be more gentlemanly in his conduct and not use parliamentary immunity and diversionary tactics to remove the spotlight from himself.

He also said MACC has hauled in individuals from both sides of the political divide in its investigations of corruption cases in the country.

“The issue of this case being politically motivated does not arise because MACC has gone after people from the ruling party in many other cases,” he said.

He said MACC should be allowed to conduct its official investigation without fear or favour and certainly without all the dramatic ranting.

“Maybe some people have the time to whine and rant all over the place but I do not because I have a state to take care of,” he said.

– Bernama


THE needs and aspirations of the people will be the main focus of the 2018 Sabah Budget which I will propose during the state legislative assembly sitting on Nov 17.

Without revealing too much, I can say the budget will be realistic and take into account a common desire to ensure Sabah continues to prosper and progress, propelled by an efficient and prudent government administration.

It will also complement the national 2018 Budget tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently as it has always been my policy as the chief minister to harness the strong state-federal ties that have helped bring much-needed assistance to Sabah.

To me, my duties as the chief minister and finance minister do not end at tabling and getting the budget approved by the august house. I have said this before and I will say it again: it’s all about the footwork in making sure the funds allocated are well spent.

The state administration I work with and fellow Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders know I am a person who prefers my actions to do the talking because we are duty-bound to the people who gave us the mandate to govern.

Every time I am briefed about development plans, updates on projects, reports on the many programmes and policies, I will demand a progress report or even complaints of shortcomings and look into the finer details.

I feel disappointed when approved allocations fail to reach their targets and I am sure it hurts the people more. We should not allow situations where federal funds are allocated, but taps remain dry in rural areas and poles are planted everywhere but no electricity is supplied. All these are wrong. These are shortcomings that I will address.

This is why, among others, I made it a point to speak to Federal Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently, after the national budget was presented, and told him that it was important for his ministry to work with the state government because we know what needs to be done on the ground.

On my part, I will also make sure federal allocations for the state are monitored, to ensure greater transparency unlike before.

The federal budget for 2018 is a comprehensive financial plan, which takes into account the needs of the people because it is inclusive and realistic, covering all levels of society, including opposition-led states.

The budget shows the government does not compromise in matters concerning the people’s wellbeing. I am grateful Sabah is not left out of the equation.

The RM1 billion allocation for dilapidated schools in Sabah, the budget for the expansion of Sandakan airport, rural infrastructure, people’s housing programmes and RM250 million for the Eastern Sabah Security Command would greatly help to ensure the state continues to prosper and maintain security.

The feasibility study on the construction of a bridge to connect Sabah and Labuan is a strong positive move as it is the first time such a plan was announced during the budget presentation. A bridge would definitely spur the economy on both ends of the bridge.

Ever since I took office in 2003, I made it a point to visit the districts regularly and bring along ministers as well as top government officials, from state and federal agencies, so that we could see and understand problems for ourselves and take immediate action when necessary.

This year, I have visited many districts, met with district officers, community leaders and the people in the villages to listen to their needs, problems, desires and hopes.

All these would be turned into numbers and plans in the state budget, which will be unveiled soon. This year a budget of RM3.78 billion was approved with a surplus of RM32.83 million. It is the third consecutive surplus budget, and this year, it is projected that revenue collection would be RM3.817 billion.

Once this is passed, then the task will be laid out for the government administration, elected representatives and leaders at all levels to translate the budget into working plans.

I have a couple of weeks to fine-tune the budget and by the grace of Allah, share with the people the plan that is the product of their needs and aspirations.

Tan Sri Musa Aman is Sabah chief minister

This piece came out in the New Straits Times and  can be seen here

 

Life is all about imponderables. What was unthinkable a few years ago, can become the go to mantra of the present. This is all the more true of politics. Take Sabah, for example. Fourteen years ago, if anyone with some knowledge of Sabah’s ethos, its conundrum of frog-jumping politics and abysmal law and order situation in the east coast of Sabah where kidnapping-for-ransom works like a market, had suggested that the Sabah model of governance would one day be hailed for replication, he or she would have been considered loony. Ditto for somebody daring to compare the Sarawak model of development with that of Sabah, and deeming the latter a better standard.

But Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman changed that. Over fourteen years since 2003, he successfully steered Sabah Barisan National government through the stormy waters of coalition politics in a State where Christian Bumiputras have a 27 per cent population, and managed to return to power with landslide victories on 21st March 2004 (GE11), 8th March 2008 (GE12) and 5th May 2013 (GE13).

He managed this laudatory feat for Umno Sabah by holding together a coalition of Sabah based political parties PBS (Party Bersatu Sabah), Upko (United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation), PBRS (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah), LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), together with Malayan based MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association), MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) and Party Gerakan (also known as a rainbow coalition), complete with Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoist, Animists and even Sikhs. And let me remind you that it was the women of Sabah, who voted for his return with a hitherto unseen gusto.

The improved law and order situation in Sabah after the formation of Esscom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) and Esszone (Eastern Sabah Security Zone), coupled with the deportation of 558,680 of illegals since 1990, and while still 6,226 illegals currently held in detention centres awaiting deportation, was responsible for enthusing Sabah voters. Esscom also had been able to thwart many kidnap attempts by cross-border criminals as a result of predictive intelligence and also the curfew imposed in seven districts in Esszone, all these have increased the support for the Sabah BN. Where law and order improves and the State functions in a better way, the best impact is felt by women and the minorities.

Both women and Muslim Bumiputras played a major role in the return of the Sabah BN over and over again. Across the board, there was patronage of Muslim voters for the coalition candidate, whether from Umno Sabah or the Sabah BN.

Increased aspirations and expectations, however, pose even more dilemmas to any dispensation, and the Umno-BN government in Sabah is no exception. Musa displayed the least exuberance at his election victories because he knew it came with massive responsibility. Spelling out the challenges before him, till now the development of Sabah has been central, in that hospitals, schools, power plants, dams, roads and bridges were built, electricity and clean drinking water and services improved. This benefited everybody. But now the Government has to bring in governance, which will be a challenge but Musa has done a fantastic job in this area over the last fourteen years.

The first hurdle was the long-pending land issue of land ownership and native customary right. Musa came up with the excellent idea of Communal grants to protect native rights to Native Customary Rights (NCR) land ownership. With the Communal Titles, land cannot be sold. There are plenty of cases where lands were quickly sold off, some even before approvals were granted, and for a mind-boggling small sum to outsiders. Communal Titles are not only a solution for the landless to own land, but a way of protecting rural folks from dubious people who entice them to part with their land for a measly amount.The only condition in Communal Tittle lands is that the land cannot be sold but passed down the family to develop on a long-term basis for sustained income that can lift the Natives out of poverty. So far 72 communal titles had been established involving 119,083 acres in 12 districts and have benefited 213 villages or 10,462 Sabah natives.

Next, Musa took on the role of just and fair enforcer by punishing civil servants guilty of corruption. Massive sums of money are being spent from Plan outlays … billions of Ringgit is being spent on various development schemes, there will be far greater opportunity to make money through corruption, and this will have to be checked and Musa is extremely hard on this and had even instructed The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to go all out on all those who are on the take, corrupt bureaucrats will be convicted, and their ill-gotten wealth and property confiscated.

Sabah’s Watergate Scandal is such an example. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission seized RM114 million worth of assets, RM53.7million in cold cash stashed in houses and offices from two senior Sabah Water Department officials on Oct 4 last year. The duo, a Director of the Water Department and his former deputy are being slapped with 34 money laundering charges.The sum seized was said to have been siphoned off from part of the RM7.5 billion allocated for rural projects in Sabah, channeled through the Federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry between 2009 and 2015, when Shafie Apdal was Minister.

Then again last week MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner, Dato Azam Baki claimed some RM1.5 billion of the allocated RM7.5 billion from the Federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry for basic infrastructure of road, water and energy for the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak for 2009 to 2015 was squandered. Some RM170 million in bank accounts and assets of the companies involved in the projects has been frozen by MACC.

A series of MACC seizures are the reason why administrative reforms should be put in place, especially with regard to Federal development funds. Musa Aman has been saying this all along year after year since he took office in 2003.

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. This will 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, but where are the projects?

There is no justification for Federal to approve and implement projects in the State 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, like what they did during PBS rule where contracts and payments were made direct by Federal Treasury to contractors in Sabah.

The funds for all Federal funded projects should be channelled to the Sabah State Government for implementation and monitoring. Sabah 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.

Sabah’s model of development is a shining example of impeccable governance and indeed its anti-corruption measures should be replicated elsewhere in the country.

That naturally brings us to the possibility of Musa Aman emerging again as Sabah’s chief ministerial candidate in the next polls which will take place within the next six months. Clearly, his credentials, tough stance against corruption and clean public image have caught the nation’s fancy.


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.


The Sabah government upholds religious freedom and views seriously any issue that could jeopardise peace and harmony among the people of different faiths in the state.

To this end, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman hoped the National Registration Department (NRD) would immediately rectify existing weaknesses in the issuance of MyKad, such as inadvertent insertion of ‘Islam’ in the identification documents of non-Muslims.

He also wants a full report from the NRD on the extent of the problem in Sabah and the measures to be put in place to prevent a repeat of such errors.

“This looks like an administrative problem. Nonetheless, I want the problem to be rectified in a speedy manner by the relevant authorities,” he said in a statement here today, in reference to a recent claim on the issue by Sabah Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB) president Datuk Jerry Dusing.

Musa said while there were weaknesses in the NRD, the issue at hand should not be blown out of proportion.

“Certain quarters should not be so quick to state that the government has allowed religious radicalism to go unchecked far too long, supports religious intolerance and corruption as well as criminal activities like abduction,” he said.

He said it was highly irresponsible to make such public accusations especially when it came from religious quarters, adding that it could fan religious sentiments among the diverse communities that practise different religions in the county and state.

“Let me make this clear that there is no room for religious or racial intolerance in Sabah. We are a multi-racial and multi-religious state whereby the people live in peace and harmony,” he said.

He also said the state government gave millions to churches and mission schools as well as Chinese vernacular schools and temples.

“Please be more sensitive in making statements especially in such an ethnically and religiously diverse state like Sabah,” he said. — Bernama


By Datuk Seri Musa Aman

AS leader of this state, I am duty-bound to serve the people and ensure their needs are taken care of.

I accept the fact that there are limits to what I can achieve as the Chief Minister, but I try my best and accept criticisms where due.

But, when false allegations are hurled at the administration that I lead, I will not accept it without defending those who make sure my instructions are followed.

There are leaders who act, and those who pay lip service.

Recently, the opposition accused the Barisan Nasional-led government of clearing more than 100,000ha of forest reserves to be converted into oil palm plantations.

I have dealt with this by setting the record straight at the recently-concluded State Legislative Assembly sitting and reminded the opposition that their responsibility entails more than just criticising the government.

The government is open to suggestions that will bring progress to the state and benefits to the people, even if they come from the opposition.

But, I will not tolerate those who voice out baseless allegations to confuse the people or deliberately exploit issues for political mileage.

For those leaders who are sincere, I told them to come and see me if there are things they do not understand.

Preserving the forest is an important agenda for me.

One of the milestones in Sabah’s conservation effort was when the state resolved to protect the area that harbours the largest orangutanpopulation, as well as other wildlife in Sabah, in the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves.

After almost 60 years of continuous logging, this activity was phased out by the end of 2007.

While there were some sceptics, it sent a strong message on our seriousness about conservation.

To reiterate that we mean business, during an official visit by then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Deramakot Forest Reserve in June 2006, I announced that logging would be phased out in Ulu Segama, Malua and Kalumpang the following year.

The eventual halt to logging in the areas would translate to a forfeiture of at least RM1 billion in timber royalties to the state.

The move has led to 240,000ha being placed under Sustainable Forest Management for the conservation of orangutan and reforestation of an area that is also part of the broader Heart of Borneo due to its rich biodiversity.

Efforts have been put in place to recreate healthy and productive forests in these and other forest reserves, each with their own management plans.

In areas not fully protected, extraction of timber is done on a sustainable basis and high conservation value areas, such as watersheds, are protected for their many benefits.

Through Sustainable Forest Management, 53 per cent of Sabah, or 3.9 million hectares, of state land have been permanently set aside as Forest Reserves, Protection Areas and Wildlife Conservation Areas.

The state government has also decided to set aside 30 per cent of its total landmass, or 2.2 million hectares, as Totally Protected Areas, which we hope to achieve in the next few years.

The current 26 per cent has already exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of 10 per cent.

It must be noted that Sabah has restored and planted forests well over 600,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

On top of that, we also have the three natural gems in the form of the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas under the full protection of Yayasan Sabah.

The latest development to show our commitment is the scrapping of the proposed Sukau bridge across Kinabatangan river, after considering views about the environmental impact from various quarters, including non-governmental organisations and environmentalists.

The Sabah government has and will continue to promote the state as a hub for tropical rainforest research involving renowned international research organisations, such as the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, the Nature Conservancy of the United States of America, Sime Darby Foundation, Abraham Foundation, WWF-Malaysia IKEA, Petronas, as well as key local higher learning institutions.

We must grow and enrich our forests with a variety of timber species.

It will be most regrettable if we leave tracts of barren land to the future generation.

Musa Aman is the Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia.


2016 was the best year for Sabah tourism with an arrival of 3,427,908 foreign tourists amounting in a whooping RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts.

First it was the RM7 billion proposed Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) a green township comprising hotels, Eco golf course, the Marina, and the enlarged Prince Philip Park approximately 348 hectares or 3,481,400 square meters to the west of Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Later that year Sabah was allocated another RM11.42 billion to implement several infrastructure projects under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) 2016-2020 by the Federal Works Ministry, this is just the first phase. The second phase of the 11MP will involve RM8.55 billion for 32 projects, including the ongoing construction of the Pan Borneo Highway and more improvements to infrastructure. The Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, involving a 706km stretch from Sindumin to Tawau, will be fully-completed by Dec 31, 2021. And then another RM3 billion in MoUs signed by Sabah State Government with private sectors to invest in agriculture and forestry and tourism and manufacturing.

It is a commentary on the bizarre priorities of our information order that investment commitments totaling $114 billion under Sabah Development Corridor, equaling nearly one fifth of Malaysia’s GDP, are either ignored or put on par with anodyne political statements. This, however, is not the occasion to lament the lack of even-handedness in the treatment of anything remotely connected to Sabah chief minister Musa Aman. It is the time to celebrate something that is fast becoming undeniable: the emergence of Sabah as the investment powerhouse of Malaysia.

In the start of the Cockerel Year, there was a stark contrast between a Sabah bubbling with optimism and the rest of the country despairing over economic mismanagement and missed opportunities. It is not that all the MoUs signed with private sector will be translated into reality. Many will remain paper commitments . But when the who’s who of Malaysia’s industry line up to proclaim their faith in Sabah as a wholesome place for investment, having already put their money where their mouth is, neither Malaysia nor the rest of the world can afford to be in denial.

The proclamations of faith in Sabah are all the more meaningful because they have been made despite some in Kuala Lumpur’s unremitting displeasure with anything that could bolster Musa Aman’s credentials. However, Musa Aman doesn’t usually win awards for being the “Reformer of the Year” or for innovative governance. In fact, he doesn’t even make it to the shortlist. Nevertheless he has invariably secured an unequivocal thumbs-up from those who have a real stake in the emergence of Sabah as a Malaysia economic power house.

Skeptics and naysayers who insist that the rise of Sabah has little to do with the state government, are partially right. Entrepreneurship and business are part of the Musa Aman’s DNA and not because he is Sabahan, and its reason why Sabah has always proudly cloaked itself in the business ethos since Musa took over as CEO of the state. Sabah has registered the highest GDP growth in the past 14 years and owes much of this success to the targeted, business-friendly approach of its government.

In relation to this, four features of ascendancy stands out. The first is quick decision-making—what Musa Aman has dubbed the “red carpet, not red tape” approach, ask corporate philanthropist Datuk Victor Paul, for example, recount how the land allotment and development for the Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru was made possible. Datuk Victor Paul built the multi-million ringgit park all with his own money, there was no such thing as land swap and he build the park entirely as part of his Corporate Social Responsibility and as a gift to the state and the people without any form of payment or reward. Victor Paul completed the whole project in less than two years, a quick-fire decision that has fetched Sabah this park.

The second feature is the curious phenomenon of the near-absence of political corruption at the top. Even Musa Aman’s worst enemies will not deny that the chief minister’s fanatical personal integrity has had a salutary trickle-down effect. Irritated by politically inspired extortion, industry has identified Sabah as a place where it is possible to do ethical business. That’s why when the Sabah Water Department scandal broke out, involving alleged abuse of power in the siphoning of RM3.3 billion of federal funds for water development in Sabah, Musa Aman sent out a tough message against corruption ordered dismissal of corrupt officers from service. The chief minister directed speedier action against the corrupt officials and ordered dismissal of all of them after completing departmental proceedings and other formalities including allowing MACC to deal with it.

Since 2003, Musa Aman’s Sabah has been marked by social and political peace. Particularly important for industry is the absence of political unrest, which unseated Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan in 1994. This is because Sabah has bucked a national trend and is witnessing high growth in many sectors especially eco-tourism and agriculture—last year the sector grew by 9.9%. This means that farmers mainly natives, now have a stake in the larger prosperity of the state and aren’t swayed by populists.

Sabahans and those interested in the state must remember that in the past one such populist, Shafie Apdal had nearly succeeded in selling off stakes in Yayasan Sabah when he was Chairman of North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) a subsidiary of YS, when his uncle Sakaran Dandai (now Tun) was Chief Minister in the mid 90s. This share swap ICBS-NBT could have resulted in the Yayasan becoming public listed and native Sabahans losing their birth right of a valuable asset, including Sabah Softwoods Sdn Bhd. However, it was Musa who was serving as CHAIRMAN/CHIEF EXECUTIVE of INNOPRISE CORPORATION (ICSB) then was able to intercept the transaction, ensuring that power remains in the hands of it’s people. Now imagine if such a populist becomes the Sabah Chief Minister.

Finally, the growth of Sabah has been spurred by a philosophy of “minimum government and maximum governance”. In plain language, this means that the state government has concentrated on creating the infrastructure for growth and left it to the private sector to get on with the job of actual wealth creation.The extent to which this vibrant Sabah capitalism will benefit Musa’s ambitions is difficult to predict. But one thing is certain. As Sabah shines and acquires an economic momentum of its own, more and more businesses will find it worthwhile to channel a major chunk of their new investments into Sabah. Kuala Lumpur may not like the resulting uneven growth but the alternative is not to thwart Sabah by political subterfuge-such as preventing public sector from engaging with the state government and the whimsical use of environmental regulations. Sabah has shown that accelerated and sustained growth is possible when the state plays the role of an honest facilitator, rather than a controller.

Musa Aman didn’t create the Sabahan character; he but he certainly did mould it. He gave it the much needed contemporary thrust as well as an ethical dimension. If more of our politicians focused on these important nuances, Malaysia as a nation will be a much better place.


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By DATUK SERI MUSA AMAN 

SABAH recorded its highest number of tourist arrivals last year. There were 3.427 million visitors, who spent an estimated RM7.25 billion based on receipts generated.

The amount was money paid for flights, rooms, transport, food, services and souvenirs they brought home to remind them of their trip to the “Land Below the Wind”. This contributed an extra 10 per cent to the state’s economy.

For this, I applaud the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, as well as industry stakeholders. Kudos to the minister in charge, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

The remarkable achievement was made possible with hard work and perseverance, as well as the belief that we have what it takes to be a world-class destination.

Hard work — through the aggressive promotional activities carried out by the ministry via its “engine room”, the Sabah Tourism Board under the stewardship of Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Hard work — by working hand in hand with the related government agencies, private sector, service providers, retailers and communities that depend on tourist arrivals.

Perseverance — by believing that despite the challenges we face, Sabah is gifted with a natural setting that attracts many to its shores, mountains, rivers and jungles.

Perseverance — that despite all the brickbats, we have strived harder to present our charms, host our guests and do our best to serve them while they are here.

Another key factor is how the ministry, along with the board and other agencies, has strategically embraced digital marketing to promote the state. We have come a long way and put in a lot of effort to become a destination of choice.

The state has also received a lot of help from the federal leadership under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has always been in awe of Sabah’s natural beauty.

Infrastructure development and the injection of funds have helped put in place the roads, airport runways, hotels, and electricity and water supply needed to play host to visitors.

To be on a par with world-class destinations, the state has embarked on endeavours, such as the Tanjung Aru Eco Development plan, to rejuvenate the iconic beach in Kota Kinabalu.

Federal approvals for flight arrivals have helped tremendously in boosting tourist arrivals, too.

Last year, four airlines commenced direct flights to Kota Kinabalu International Airport, where today, 13 foreign airlines have direct connections from 16 international locations.

There was a threefold increase in chartered flight arrivals, from 76 in 2015 to 210 last year, bringing in 25,627 passengers.

On our shores, there were 37 cruise and naval ships that called to port in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau, bringing in more than 33,000 visitors.

Our international relations with foreign countries have helped encourage tourist arrivals.

Friendly ties with China resulted in a double-digit growth in arrivals from the country, with 374,939 visitors. There was also an increase in arrivals from South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brunei.

Domestic tourist arrivals are another important factor, with nearly 2.3 million people from other states having made Sabah their holiday destination.

All these will require better roads, communication lines and security. With greater development in the pipeline under the Barisan Nasional government, we can expect better connectivity that will allow more of Sabah to be explored.

We have anchor attractions, such as the majestic Mount Kinabalu; the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Sakaran and Tun Mustapha marine parks in Kota Kinabalu, Semporna and Kudat, respectively; and, wildlife, such as orangutans at the Sepilok sanctuary in Sandakan and proboscis monkeys in Sukau and Bilit, Kinabatangan.

Other prime destinations include the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas.

We have seen new interest developing in adventure hiking trails in Kiulu, Tambunan and Penampang; the food industry, with visitors trying out fresh seafood and local delicacies; tamu grounds; and, cultural events.

Visit Tambunan Year 2017, for example, was envisioned by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to promote the interior district as a tourist destination. The initiative is commendable.

It is our duty and responsibility, as the host, to provide the best we can so that every visitor leaves with pleasant memories and experiences from their trip to Sabah — and return.

**The writer is Sabah chief minister