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Musa’s vision for Sabah amid global worries crucial
Published on: Saturday, March 25, 2017

By Datuk John Lo
ONLY THE other day, I was chatting with some senior business executives and professionals on how bad the global economy has become with the many geopolitical uncertainties now prevailing.

One of them said that President Trump will bring disaster to the whole world, especially to the Muslim countries with anti Islamic slang policies. He has already tried to ban citizens from several Muslim countries from entering USA.

The American courts have turned down his ban a second time. Only God knows what he will do next.

He is a worry to Malaysia because USA is our major trading partner.

Trump’s approach to managing America is protectionist through and through with his slogan “America first”.

Every other country is second or secondary to him, even their traditional allies.

The new President has all but abandoned years of free trade and globalisation policies which have given prosperity to many countries, including Malaysia for years. Malaysia was very keen on TPPA.

But Trump threw it out of the White House window immediately he moved in.

What can be worse is that Trump is unpredictable and can say things without thinking.

His own Republican Party is at war with him on his budget proposal in Congress as I write.

Another lamented that there is political chaos in Europe, which is another of Malaysia’s substantial trading partner.

Britain’s PM Theresa May is about to trigger exit from the EU. Several European countries are also thinking the same. The European economy has been in doldrums for more than 5 years with no end in sight.

The Greek economic collapse more than 5 years ago is still lingering. Adding to all these is the emerging anti Muslim sentiment which may worsen considerably.

Malaysia’s biggest trading partner is China which, fortunately for us, is politically stable.

Her economy has settled down to the “new normal” economic growth from 12pc to between 6pc and 7pc which is still very respectable.

It would appear that the restructuring of the Chinese economy by the Chinese Government has succeeded pretty much. China is the only country that has spare cash to invest overseas. Even then, the People’s Bank of China has restricted capital outflow. One of the casualty is likely to be the Forest City project in Johor.

Even Singapore which is well known for her economic agility, has experienced quite a severe downturn for the last 3 to 4 years. Reflecting this, some high-end properties have dropped by as much as 30pc.

The expat community of oil and gas has almost disappeared completely like in Labuan.

The global economic trend is not encouraging in the short and medium term. Affecting Malaysia most is the price of oil which has gone up to more than US50 but has since come down again in recent weeks.

Many Opec members do not possess financial stamina to prolong production cuts. They need the cash flow to keep their economies going. Scary thought for oil over dependent oil producing countries including Malaysia.

Then a valuer commented that property prices have not come down or down very little in Sabah.

In fact, some sectors have even gone up.

This has come to me as a total surprise as in the first place, property prices have been considered abnormally high in Sabah, especially in KK. Admittedly, transactions have reduced somewhat which is to be expected.

Rentals have come down a bit and tenants are not so easy to come by. Reasons for this stability in Sabah, according to some professionals, can be attributed to that most Sabahans are still quite cash rich, relatively speaking and/or have cash flow to service bank loans.

The other positive sign is that owners have bought properties not for yield. They are looking for capital gain.

Hence many development projects have been fully sold. But many units are left unoccupied.

This is a rather unusual phenomenon too. This can only happen when the people have enough cash and/or cash flow to hold unoccupied and/or unrented properties.

Why do we have this type of scenario in Sabah? The pointers can be assigned to [a] confidence of property owners that things will be better. [b] Sabah economy is not so badly hit as other places. [c] Cash flow is still relatively good.

[d] Unemployment is not extensive. [e] Sabah government has a good reserve. [e] Tourism is doing well, especially arrivals of tourists from China. [f] FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] is still coming in good amounts. [g] Political and economic stability of the Musa Administration.

Notwithstanding the prevailing good economic environment, going forward in these uncertain times will be full of pitfalls and tribulations.

Sabah needs a leader with a visionary mind, a man with a good track record in being able to manage and continue to transform Sabah’s economy.

The Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, under the Presidency of Jeyan Marrimuttu, has initialled its latest project called “The RCKK Lecture Series”.

The purpose of this series is to invite national and international prominent leaders to talk and deliberate political, social and economic issues that are confronting our nation and the world.

For the inaugural lecture of the “RCKK Lecture Series” Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu has invited Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman who has chosen to speak on “My Vision for Sabah”.

The Organising Chairman of this inaugural lecture is Past District Governor Datuk Zainie Aucasa.

The Chief Minister will deliver his vision in a black-tie [tuxedo] function on 26th March 2017 organized by Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu at Shangri-La’s Tanjong Aru Resort and Spa.

Musa’s vision is especially pertinent and timely in view of the scenario that I have mentioned earlier.

It is good that Sabah has already made a lot of progress since 2003 under Musa.

Going forward with these achievements will be a lot easier. However, it would be a mistake for us to take things for granted that the progress we have enjoyed before will continue on auto pilot. Life is not like that.

This is why Musa’s lecture on “My vision for Sabah” is important, for his thoughts and his vision will guide us towards better things in the future.

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