The Sabahans are also economic refugees | Daily Express Online



Too often we speak, sometimes with sympathy, often with disdain, of the refugees among us. Do the Sabahans know that we are also economic refugees in our own state? Is there a guarantee that our grandchildren will be different from the poor refugee children who run around looking for food in the dumps? Yes, it can happen if the Sabahans continue to ignore the loss of our economic rights, lacking the political courage to tackle the current heartbreaking trend. For most of the past 30 years, politicians have fought among themselves, plundering Sabah‘s economic assets and selling them cheaply to non-Sabahans. The result is that we, Sabahans, do not already control any significant economic sector. So much so that non-Sabahans also own many Sabahan politicians, under their control and / or are obligated to them. All of this, unfortunately, has happened over the past 30 years. So much has been lost, including our economic souls.

Has Sabahans lost everything?

My friend and I had lunch at a kopi-tiam in Luyang a few days ago. The 4 hawkers came from Perak. Expressing his shock, he told me that even many food stalls in rural areas are owned by non-Sabahans. Have the Sabahans lost control of everything? These are the Ugly Truths

[1] Palm oil? Lost.


[2] Hotels and resorts? Lost. [3] Banking? Lost. [4] Automobile trade? Lost. [5] Workshop? Lost. [6] Supermarket and shopping center? Lost. [7] Wholesale? Lost. [8] Equipment? Lost. [9] Construction? Lost. [10] Food preparation? Lost. [11] Manufacturing? Lost. [12] Property development? Lost. [13] Kopi-Tiam? Lost. [14] Earth? Lost. [15] Logistics? Lost. [16] Peach? Lost. [17] Transport? Lost. [18] Frame? Lost. [19] Wood contractors? Lost. [20] Private hospitals? Lost. [21] Sabah’s forest industry? Lost. [22] How much has Tan Sri Harris accumulated? Lost. [23] Advice for professionals? Lost. [23] THE POLITICIANS? LOTS ARE ALSO LOST !!! How many work for the economic benefit of the Sabahans? Or how many can produce sensible / constructive economic ideas? You tell me!

While politicians cannot transform from pit bull political fighters into helpful economic warriors, Sabah’s assets have been drained under their noses. The non-Sabahans came in, took control, and used those assets to fatten their multibillion wealth at KLSE.

Can Sabahans take back our economic destiny?

I am an eternal optimist. I’m saying the Sabahans can get it back and I’m willing to bet on it if there is a strong will to unite with the Sabahans, especially the politicians, to undertake a mentality transformation in the sequel. It will be a good start.

Transformation of the mind.

The economic decay of Sabah began because of the worst possible frame of mind of looting, corruption, selfishness permeating all layers of politicians in cohort with many businessmen. It must stop. A new mindset of “Sabahans first” needs to be nurtured and implemented. The biggest obstacle to this transformation of the state of mind is our inability to capture and place “Sabahans First” as the top priority of our psyche. There are simply too many vested interests. The Sabahans are excellent at racial and religious harmony and unity, BUT COMPLETELY WITHOUT HOPE TO PROTECT OUR ECONOMIC RIGHTS.

This transformation of mentalities must start with politicians. The reasons are obvious. They are the leaders, so they must lead Sabah on the right track. When politicians clean up their act and get the right mindset, the public service will follow suit. Then a NEW SABAH will emerge.


No shame in protecting our economic rights in the “first Sabahans policy”

Malaysians should be the first in Malaysia, not foreigners. Johoriens first in Johor. Even HM the Sultan has repeatedly said that his first duty is to care for his people. Politicians in every state have explicit or implicit policies for putting their people first, from Kelantan to Johor, southern China to Sarawak, but stop dead in Sabah. They fight for or protect, nurture the economic interests / rights of their people. In Sabah, foreigners and non-Sabahans can work at all levels, do all kinds of activities, including street vendors. Enforcement is either ineffective or absent altogether.

Policy-driven economic development less dependent on funds.

Politicians are too dependent on economic development based on funds. Worse yet, their most common excuse for not delivering is “pending funds” or “no funds lah”. This self-destructive mindset must change. Singapore and China could not have developed so quickly to become economic powers in the world if their leaders had the mindset of the Sabahan politicians. Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiao Ping both started with next to nothing. Singapore was a backwater and China was poor in dirt, the United States used to throw breadcrumbs at the Chinese, adopt poor Chinese children. Today, Little Dot Singapore with 4 million inhabitants [Same as Sabah] is world class. China is a super power. The greatest tribute the United States can pay to China is that American presidents say China has become a threat to American world leadership. In the meantime, Sabah has demoted from the # 2 richest state to the # 1 state in poverty.

What do the tiny island of Singapore and China with 1.4 billion people have in common? They both started their economic ascent with policies aimed at empowering their people. LKY’s saying is work hard, innovate, teamwork or die, zero tolerance for failure and corruption. Deng’s famous statement “Black cat or white cat, if he can catch mice, he’s a good cat.” It is glorious. Sabah’s style is “to make the non-Sabahan rich is glorious.” This is how we lose control of our economy. This is how Sabah has more poverty than Kelantan.

Use “Sabahan First Policy” to develop the economy of Sabah,

Sabah’s economy must grow for the Sabahans to prosper. Like Singapore and China, Sabah can adopt “Sabahans First” to grow our economy. Given the right empowerment policies, the Sabahans can perform as well as any Malays in other states. Specific policies must be in the foreground to put the economic interest of Sabahans. A good example is that Sabah institutions only fund Sabah projects and affairs. Sabahan’s businessmen are strapped for funds. Chronic disease logic for Sabah, with the worst poverty rate, to provide loans to Johor and KL, the 2 richest places in Malaysia. These funds should have been used in Sabah, for the Sabahan businesses, for the economic benefit of Sabahans.


Likewise, Sabahan professionals / consultants have been trampled and sidelined by non-Sabahan / foreign consultants who have been able to grasp most major federal government / private sector projects. They should have preference.

I am glad that steps are being taken to correct these policy anomalies.

I am convinced that Sabah’s economy can grow with a “Sabahans First Policy”. This policy will instill confidence in Sabahans, encourage investment by Sabahans, may attract foreign direct investment and most importantly, profits made by Sabahans will remain in Sabah.

All it takes is for politicians, in government and in opposition, to stop petty politics and focus on solving Sabah’s perennial / fundamental economic problems.


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