By Joseph Wilfred Lakai
KOTA KINABALU - Sabah is the worst managed and worst state to live in Malaysia with the second lowest water supply coverage, the highest population growth, the largest number of illegal immigrants, the highest poverty incidence, the poorest electricity/ energy efficiency and the least developed state in Malaysia. This conclusion does come from a close study and analysis of the Ninth Malaysian Plan as follows:
Sabah has the second lowest water supply coverage of 75% throughout the state just ahead of the 70% water supply coverage in Kelantan;
Sabah has also the highest population growth rate in the country at 3.1% as compared to the national average of 2.3%. Its population jumped by 530,000 or more than 20% in the space of 5 years from 2.6 million in 2000 to 3.13 million in 2005.
Sabah has the largest number of illegal immigrants and those with genuine ICs under "Project M" estimated at nearly 1 million. The extraordinary growth of the Sabah population can be shown that in 1960, the Kadazandusun population was 168,000 and equaled the number of other Bumiputeras. In 2000, while the Kadazandusun Murut population increased to 560,000, the population of other Bumiputeras had grown to 1.1 million;
Sabah has the worst energy efficiency with shocking system losses of 19.5%, units sold per employee (Gwh) of only 1.29 and System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) of 4,109 minutes per customer per year. In other words, 4,109 minutes is lost from power interruptions in Sabah each year or almost 3 days out of 365 days. No wonder Sabah is known as the ¡®Land With Power Cuts'. This compares unfavorably with TNB's system losses of 10.5%, 3.05 Gwh units sold and 147 SAIDI or only 147 minutes lost per year in Peninsular Malaysia.
Sabah has the worst incidence of poverty at 23% in 2004 as compared to Sarawak's 7.5% and Kelantan's 10.6%. The incidence of poverty in Peninsular Malaysia is 3.6% and for the entire country 5.7%
Sabah ranked last on the Development Composite Index (DCI) scoring 90 as compared to the highest of 109.6 of Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. Even Kelantan is ahead of Sabah with a DCI of 93.1.
Clearly, being the last developed state in Malaysia is the reward to Sabahans for giving absolute power to BN without any meaningful opposition in the state. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The time has come for Sabahans to wake up by restoring democracy by voting in the opposition to provide a strong and effective Sabah government to fight for political equality, socio-economic justice and fight for a clean and good governance.
What have you got to lose when Sabahans are already the bottom state in Malaysia. With such abundant natural resources, it is unacceptable for Sabahans to live in poverty, where there are frequent interruption in power supply, poor roads maintenance and construction, frequent water supply breakdowns, a stranger in your own land facing illegal immigrants and also a deepening divide between the rich and poor.
Sabah has a mean monthly income of RM 2,487 in 2004. How many households have a mean monthly income of RM 2,487 when Sabah has the highest poverty incidence of 23%. Malaysia has the worst income disparity in South-East Asia between the rich and poor with the share of income of the bottom 40% of the population enjoying only 13.5% whilst the share of the top 20% increased 51.2%. The income disparity is clearly much worse in Sabah where the rich has become richer whilst the poor remain poor.
Malaysia has much wealth. The only problem is that it is not shared equitably with other Malaysians. As an oil producer and exporter, Malaysians have not received a single cent of oil revenues even though Petronas earned RM 500 billion since it was established 31 years ago in 1974. If this RM 500 billion was shared with every needy Malaysian who is not wealthy, each Malaysian young and old can get at least RM 20,000 each.
But Malaysians have not received a single cent of oil revenues due to extensive corruption by the BN government as absolute power corrupts absolutely. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently revealed that Petronas was expected to earn RM 83 billion last year. After deducting tax and royalties of RM 40 billion, fuel subsidies of RM 13 billion, Petronas will still have RM 40 billion left. If this was distributed to needy Malaysians, each young and old would get RM 2,000 each per year.
A household of 5 would receive RM 10,000 per year and would not fear petrol and electricity price hikes as well as assist them in reducing the financial burdens. But why have we not received a single cent when this is our birthright as oil revenues from our oil resources belongs not to one company or to any individual but to all Malaysians in the oil producing states.
If a non-oil producer like Singapore can give S$2.6 billion (RM 6 billion) cash under the 2006 Budget this year to all Singaporeans, especially the poor, why can't the Malaysian government do so when Petronas has earned nearly RM 500 billion since its inception in 1971? Oil importer Singapore has given $10.675 billion (RM 24 billion) directly to its people since 2000 as compared to Petronas which has not given a single cent.
The natural question that Najib must answer is how come Malaysians cannot get a single cent directly from the RM 500 billion oil revenues whilst Singaporeans without a single cent of earning from oil revenue can benefit from RM 24 billion these last 5 years? Clearly, it is important that Malaysians seek accountability and economic justice not only from the Sabah BN government but also from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to prevent all our oil revenue from being misused by the select few.
Joseph Lakai is Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) N34 Liawan Constituency Liaison Committee (CLC) Vice Chairman.