KOTA KINABALU : “The Federal government should let Sabah decide on the use of development funds instead of making decisions on extravagant multi-hundreds of million projects in Putrajaya without in-depth knowledge of local conditions and requirements,” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, when asked to comment on the call to channel federal funds to the State government.
The federal government should not play politics with federal funds and try to leverage the decision of award of projects and use of the development funds. These funds belong to the people of Malaysia and the Umno/BN government is merely the government of the day and trustees and custodians of these funds.
It is only appropriate that all federal funds be channeled to the state governments regardless whether they are opposition or BN-controlled. As for development funds meant for Sabah, much of these funds are contributed by oil revenues and other federal taxes from Sabah. In addition, the Sabah State government is controlled and monopolized by Umno.
Taking away the decision on development projects from Putrajaya will reduce the political play by the federal government and Umno as well as reduce corruption at the federal level at the expense of poor quality projects in Sabah.
Currently, it is alleged that all Sabah projects are decided in Putrajaya and given to Umno Malaya cronies and Malayan main contractors. By the time these projects are sub-contracted out locally, the cream has been taken leaving only crumbs for Sabah sub-contractors. This corruption is probably the biggest reason why projects are poorly constructed in Sabah due to cutting of corners arising from reduced pricing since the main profits have been creamed off.
More importantly, when entrusted with the management of the development funds, the State government can chart Sabah’s own development course to meet local needs and requirements which are very different from those in Malaya.
There is an urgent need to provide clean treated water, provide affordable homes, sanitary and healthcare as well as the sealing of rural roads where the locals have endured 49 years of poor accident-prone roads and higher maintenance costs of vehicles but also dust from the numerous gravel roads.
Sabah do not need RM500 million dams like in Tambatuon and Kaiduan but many small-scale water treatment plants all over Sabah to provide clean treated water especially in the rural and interior regions.
With the award of projects in Sabah, corruption by Malayan Umno cronies will be cut down and for the same amount of funds, more and better projects with higher quality can be built in Sabah, not slip-shod and creamed-off cut-corner construction as now.
Sabah has suffered long enough for the past 49 years with low or non-existent prioritization of Sabah’s development needs which all this while have been decided in Kuala Lumpur without in-depth knowledge of the local conditions. The time has come for Sabah to chart and undertake its own development and progress.
The new Sabah Cabinet and the Sabah federal MPs need to abandon their worship of their Umno/Malaya leaders and start thinking of and doing the right thing to restore Sabah’s position and chart Sabah’s own development and future without relying on their political masters from far across the South China Sea.
These development funds are contributed largely by the rich and abundant resources and revenues from Sabah to the tune of RM40 billion annually. If every State contributed the same amount, Malaysia do not need to wait until 2020 to achieve developed nation status.
These Sabah revenues and development funds meant for Sabah should not be treated as personal properties of Umno/Malaya or the federal government or Sabah be treated as a step-child as Sabah certainly does not belong to Malaysia as said by 2 federal ministers recently.
It is regrettable that the people of Sabah failed to see the genuineness and sincerity of STAR’s struggle for Sabah and wanting Sabahans to chart their own future and destiny. Sabah can be a leading and proud nation within Malaysia once again if proper steps are taken from now.