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‘Racist, evil’ federal leaders duping Sabahans

Where has the billions of ringgit which the federal government
claims was spent on Sabah infrastructure gone?
By Luke Rintod of FMT
PENAMPANG: Billions of ringgit have been spent on infrastructure projects in Sabah but there is little to show for it, especially in rural areas.

This has prompted a veteran political operative in Sabah to accuse federal government leaders of having an “evil” and “racist” attitude towards Sabah and Sarawak.

Fredoline Edwin Lojingki, 71, claims that by denying the two states similar infrastructure enjoyed in the peninsula, the federal government has kept the people in two states impoverished and deficient.

Lojingki, once an activist in the defunct United Kadazan National Organisation (Unko) and now a coordinator in Borneo Heritage Foundation (BHF), said each year both the federal and state governments trumpeted that hundreds of millions of ringgits would be spent on Sabah alone for rural development but it was astonishing that little is accomplished.

“Each year billions of ringgits are allocated for infrastructure with a focus on basic infrastructure.

“What astonishes me is that little is felt here in many rural areas in Sabah.

‘I have travelled to many parts of Sabah in recent times and I found it scary to claim that those billions were ever spent in Sabah.

“Not even small bridges or roads have been built in many of those places I visited. Even in Penampang, Inanam, Papar, Kota Belud, Keningau, Tambunan, Kudat, not to mention Nabawan, Sook, Banggi and some of the remote places in Ranau, Pitas, Kota Marudu.

“Very little has been done to upgrade public amenities like kampung roads and tracks, pedestrian bridges and even small wooden bridges have been left to rot.

“Don’t talk about drainage in the kampungs … it is almost non-existent,” he said.

Endangering lives

Lojingki said Chief Minister Musa Aman and his deputy Joseph Pairin Kitingan must explain why thousands of suspension bridges in the rural areas, especially in Kadazandusun-Murut kampungs are left unattended for decades.

He said the failure to ensure such facilities are safe was endangering the lives of many, especially schoolchildren who used them on a daily basis to get to and from school.

“I pity our people being taken for granted so easily and cheaply, duped into believing they are well taken care off by the governments who pour in billions of ringgits every year.

“In reality, the situations in the rural has become relatively worse in term of development now compared to the 1970s and even 80s, when not as much money was spent on Sabah by the federal government.

“Those younger people must raise their voice and learn to be bold to demand from their YBs, the district officers and all the top civil servants who are in the decision-making team.

“They must ask why their roads are not tarred or upgraded, or why their balai rayas are dilapidated, why no new infrastructure has been provided?

‘They should demand to see how the district office and YBs spent their allocation?” he said.

Sabahans can issue ultimatum

As citizens, he said, Sabahans can issue an ultimatum to the government and political parties that their support is not a given one and they can reshape the political landscape any time.

“There is no point in the Auditor-General stating every year that money has been misspent when the people, the real beneficiaries of this public money, are denied the right to participate, plan and monitor how the yearly allocation are being spent in each district or constituency,” Lojingki said.

The lack infrastructure in the state has been an unending lament for decades.

The issue is only hurriedly addressed prior to an election when roads are given a new layer of asphalt whether they need it or not, drains cleared and a dash of paint applied.

Indeed, rural folk mock that an election must be around the corner whenever they notice some maintenance or development taking place.

The government, on the other hand, makes no effort to hide the fact that the people should in fact be happy that they are noticed.

Many note that preferential treatment is given to some communities, pointing out that infrastructure development in those areas they reside are far ahead of those dominated by communities not on the ‘A’ list.

This imbalance has caused political and social friction in the state and further divided an already fractured society.

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