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Sabah’s economy on ‘Death Row’

Sabah is slipping down on living standards as
families continue to feel the pinch of high
inflation and low economic revival.
By the time this article is published, the Mayan calendar phenomenon is probably way behind us and like any other hoaxes of the last century, there was no apocalypse or Armageddon.
Let us go for something more real and imminent:
Upon this coming Chinese Lunar New Year in 2013, the zodiac snake will once again dawn the world. With so many political and fiscal uncertainties staring Sabah in the face, will she ever survive the python squeeze or will asphyxia be her final fate?
Or will the worst be reserved instead for the ruling coalition which has hogged the nation’s seat of power for more than half a century of dividing the people and rule, when the celestial serpent finally devour the entire Barisan Nasional in an election tipped to be held in or around February?
Will Malaysians in the country and the diaspora around the world watch and scream their lungs out with roaring ecstasy of colossal joy when past corrupt and vicious leaders and all their greedy cohorts are hunted down like fallen tyrants in the likes of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Chen Shui Bian, Joseph Estrada, or Gloria Arroyo and put behind bars for crimes committed against citizens and looting the nation when Anwar Ibrahim does become the new Prime Minister of Malaysia?
The Jewish people believe that the world will end when every Jew scattered around the globe return to their homeland in Israel.
I personally believe that our motherland will eventually become a paradise when all her people can finally live together without hate, segregation, and persecution.
Many people in Sabah including Malaysians from Peninsular and Sarawak who have settled down here know very well why the BN federal government is issuing MyKads to immigrants and allowing them to flood Sabah.
These newly baked Malaysians are not only competing with genuine citizens in every aspect of life but also jeopardising the security and fabric of society with their thieving and violent cultures thereby destroying the sub-stratum of our formation of this country.
It was an open secret that in the 1994 Sabah elections, in an assault led by former DPM Anwar Ibrahim on Parti Bersatu Sabah, huge numbers of alleged immigrants were supposedly given citizenships and voting rights.
Yet, the Barisan Nasional still lost by a simple majority of seats.
Will the Royal Commission of Inquiry set up to look into this long standing conundrum eventually pinpoint the architects and engineers of this fraud? But what will be fait accompli this election is that Sabah must be won at all costs.
But a united Sabah population, particularly the lower and middle grounds, has now swung over to the local opposition parties, a repeat of 1994. This explains the high frequency of Najib Tun Razak’s visits to Sabah.
Can the state BN government be more foolish?
Rhetoric and slogans alone can no longer win elections because the present generation of voters is well-informed. While the people in Sabah are tightening their waist-belts during every meal at home, they often wonder why are their state ministers clueless as to what is actually happening or what should be done to arrest the decline and spur a rebound?
Are 99% of the misfortunes suffered by the people in Sabah these days directly inflicted by an experienced but incompetent state government? This sounded very oxymoronic, indeed.
If a government is competent, even with no experience, it can still produce the desired result albeit at a lower level of satisfaction, which is nevertheless better than nothing.
How is the state government to explain the dwindling quality of life and spiraling costs of essentials that is burdening the people? How can there be growth when every successive administrations of the Barisan Nasional are incapable of coming up with prudent and wise policies that can work in tandem with and for the people to sustain themselves?
It is absolutely preposterous to be the other way around!
Sabah’s economy is purportedly supported, among others, by three main sectors: (a) oil and gas, (b) palm oil, and (c) tourism.
To be frank, (save for a handful of local Sabah lads who worked at the rigs, Petronas, oil exploration companies, and federal and state governments) how much of Sabah’s oil and gas wealth actually benefitted the people?
Just check out the price citizens are paying for fuel and cooking gas now compared to 10 or 15 years ago and the answers are all out there. And the worst thing is this: we are still producing and exporting petroleum products today!
To give a closest analogy of the kind of sick joke we are living in: if you are a poultry farmer, do you sell your 1st class fowls, buy back 4th class birds, and sell it to your employees at 2nd class prices?
If I were to own the farm, I will sell my 1st class produce to my employees at 3rd class prices for their own consumption.
Sabah’s worrying decline in the economy came under more pressure a week ago after a tumble of crude palm oil prices put it on serious negative watch. It will prove very embarrassing for the state government if the condition worsens in the next couple of weeks.
As for the decomposing tourism sector, our hotspots are stale and expensive; a 4 Days 3 Nights package (which include airfare, resort hotel accommodation with food and beverages, transfers, and day trip tours) to Phuket Island in Thailand from Hong Kong costs an average of RM400 per person; a one night stay at a 5-star hotel in Kota Kinabalu alone will cost more than RM400!
Quality tourists are flocking to our neighbours in the region instead of us. Many tour operators including the established players have already closed down with many more on the way.
Non-existent reforms
Sabah is slipping down on living standards as families continue to feel the pinch of high inflation and low economic revival.
With rising food bills eating into spending power, every citizen is as shock as they are furious to know that everyone of their elected representatives in government is living a luxurious lifestyle funded by hard pressed taxes.
Many of these state ministers even find it fit to travel overseas together with their families purportedly for government business where no bilateral reimbursements beneficial to the people were ever brought back.
Not only is their performance appallingly bad, none of them lives by the sacred mantra that “we are all in this hardship together”.
While every lie to hoodwink the people is elegantly composed and spread by irresponsible cyber troopers and mainstream journalists with no backbones to prop up the image of outdated and toxic politicians who are only around to serve their own twisted and vested interests, the straits of the Sabah people are so dire that they are only one step closer to financial anarchy.
If this is not a monstrous and rogue administration, guilty of not doing enough for the people, but finding it highly appropriate to be engrossed in a fawning court of shoe polishers, what is?
Predictably, our state government has remained unrepentant. We have inherited from a despotic administration another that is outright incompetent which only know how to spin about non-existent reforms to the citizenry.
After some many hopeless administrations, the current one is presumably not only the most terrifyingly pathetic and ineffectual but also the most self-isolated one which defies bona fide warnings and display contempt for genuine ideas which they themselves are intellectually deficient of.
Step aside, you will not be missed
Citizens of the state are so fed up when their persistent disapprovals kept falling on deaf ears with no practicable resolution to tackle the issues complained of in sight.
The state government just like its federal counterpart is too proud to even admit that its policies are riddled with planning and implementation faults.
It could not even coherently list out their so-called transformations or achievements with which the people can judge and evaluate for themselves its effectiveness in dealing with the issues at hand.
Day after day nothing worthy is being done to reduce the significant discomfort of the people and induce recovery. Even after countless futile programs of unjustified extravagance, Sabah’s economy has stayed moribund and its agriculture disastrous, unsurprisingly.
If the state government does not have the intellectuals within, it should at least have the courage to hire from outside – not sit around doing nothing and wait for something to happen!
This state government just does not have strong commitments or the expertise to implement a fiscal mandate for consolidation and revitalization. Very soon Sabah will trounce even Greece for catastrophic performance.
And to all the shameless leaders who are re-contesting this coming general election, if you are not a complete waste of the people’s time and money, who else?
This is probably my last piece to be published by FMT this year; see you again in 2013. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Malaysians and friends of Malaysia, wherever you are! Adios amigo!
The writer is a member of Sabah’s fading travel industry; loves food and speed, speaks to all sides of the political divide, and blogs at giving no quarters.

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