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Our economic future lies in the manifestos
Published on: Sunday, May 06, 2018

By Datuk John Lo

Going into last lap before 9 May various coalitions/parties have presented manifestos.

One or two are just “make do”, others are more political with little economic sense/ideas.

For economic vision the one presented by Tan Sri Musa is the most comprehensive and inclusive.

His manifesto is a continuation of a combination of his Halajutu vision and the foundation he has built since 2003 when he first became CM. His vison, in retrospect, has served Sabah well as it has pulled us out of the economic abyss in the 1980s/1900s. Sabah is now the 5th largest economy among the states in Malaysia including an ongoing tourism boom.

I respect different/contrary views and would urge others to peruse, compare and reach their own conclusions as to which manifesto would best serve your future and that of your next generation.

Musa’s manifesto is inclusive, forward and progressive looking. It will shape Sabah’s economy for better things and elevate it to greater heights. I shall look at some of the highlights of this manifesto in the context of their positive impacts on our economic future, especially for the Y generation.

Sabah’s rights under MA63.

All the political parties have used MA63 as a launching campaign platform. The question is who will be the most effective and can bring home real economic benefits for Sabahans. Good to bear in mind of sincerity of those who have been championing this cause. Why have they done little or nothing when they were in power.

Only when they are out of power or have been sacked began to cry “wolf”. Records so far have shown Musa’s style of “quiet diplomacy” have achieved more than all the “shouting” and “chest thumbing” by Sarawak.

The effective outcome of MA63 will depend on 2 factors–who gets elected into Federal and State governments.

A special unit in the Chief Minister's Department to look into issues concerning religion and race.

This initiative is an expansion of Musa’s role as the leader for all Sabahans. He has allocated and distributed more than RM300 million in total to Chinese independent schools, temples and churches. This allocation has been distributed consistently every year, not just for election time, which has allowed these institutions to plan ahead.

Such a unit will enhance the prevailing racial and religious harmony that is uniquely Sabahan.

Its economic impact is for Sabah to continue to grow, we need peace, harmony and above all, the quality graduates that are being produced by these schools. Coming to mind immediately are Tshung Tsin and Kian Kok which together with many others have produced graduates who have made major contributions in our economy.

A new location for the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) in view of its rising importance.

Boosting the Tourism Industry. Exploring potentials of tourism products especially in rural areas and encouraging participation of industry players and tour operators among the locals.

As far as I know, all other manifestos have failed to deal with this most important infrastructure for Sabah’s future economy. More than 90pc of tourists fly into Sabah. Tourism is critical for Sabah and KKIA is now at or near to saturation point. Without a new airport or a major expansion of KKIA, tourism will grind to a halt at present level. Then the future of many young Sabahans will be deprived of jobs and business opportunities.

This newly expanded KKIA needs to have triple present capacity as I expect tourist arrivals will grow by leaps and bounds in the next 10 to 15 years. Tourism receipts at RM7.52 billion in 2017 can reach RM15 billion with a new KKIA.

Tourism with its extensive multiplier effects, holds the key to more jobs, more business opportunities in an expanded tourism industry. SICC will boost high-end tourist arrivals.

The inclusion of this point in Musa’s manifesto shows economic leadership maturity.

Create ample and fair distribution of job opportunities to be in line with rapid development in various sectors and will ensure all segments of societies will get fair chances.

As Sabah’s economy expands and matures, job opportunities will be generated in tourism, especially in MICE and high-end tourism. Likewise, in the oil and gas as projects/investments in SOGIP have been completed.

Protecting native customary land and expediting the process of land applications by the people.

The implementation of “communal land titles” is the important initiative for the protection of native land ownership in modern time. I like to urge one party leader who has vowed to cancel the “communal land titles” to reconsider and withdraw. Many Sabah natives, like those in other countries, have been continuously mired in poverty because they are reluctant to cultivate their land and resort to selling them for quick cash.

The colonial NT system has outlived its usefulness. Over the years, it has made land uneconomical in size and almost impossible to develop. The “communal land titles” have made agriculture development commercially viable. It can lift the standard of living of and bridge the gap between urban and rural people.

Musa’s “communal land title” system is far more superior that the system in Sarawak where the natives have to fight expensive long drawn out legal battles to establish their NCR in each and every case.

In Sabah, “communal land titles” are presented on a plate to the various bumiputra communities.

Intensify commitment to protect the natural environment towards green economy.

Aim for Sabah to continue to be a State that has the best forest management in the region.

These 2 statements, taken together, will provide economic competitive edge for the Y generation in future when green environment will be economically critical. Already many China tourists are being attracted by Sabah’s clean air, green forest and beautiful sunset.

Implementation of the Pan Borneo Highway development project to enhance the network of land transport that connects all districts in Sabah.

The Pan Borneo will be the singular biggest game changer for the economy in Sabah and Sarawak as it will open up communication and land. Many economic activities will be generated, especially tourism, and will benefit land owners who are mostly bumiputras. More importantly, it will further boost KK as the gateway and undisputed premier tourism destination in Borneo.

Women's development and Equality of Gender. All segments of women would be safeguarded and the dignity of women would be pushed and boosted to all levels.

Consistent all the time, Musa has emphasised on the development of women. Wisma Wanita is testimony.

This is a great initiative with much economic significance as [a] 50pc of population are women. [b] More women in universities than men. [c] Women are more suited in many IT and service industry jobs. [c] Economically, productive women and gender equality will give tremendous economic benefits to families.

Enhance human capital development via education to meet current demands.

Development of Youths and Sport will be the main priority of BN Sabah.

Taken together, these two points have the most important message in this manifesto.

It is not natural resources, it is not money. Ultimately, it is the people with brain that will advance Sabah to a developed state. Good examples are Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

Consolidating position of Sabah's Finances and Economy. BN Sabah will ensure resources and Sabah's financial management is strengthened, dynamic and sustainable. Creating conducive economic environment by ensuring foreign investments into Sabah continue to increase.

Musa’s prudence in economic and financial management, sound management practices in administration have brought financial stability and accelerated progress to Sabah. The proposal to consolidate is timely so that it can create more investor confidence, especially from foreigners.

Sabah’s strong and healthy reserve has regained our respectability.

Driving the agriculture sector. Promoting new and efficient technology for development of food industry, agriculture and agro-based industry, as well as enhance security food production and earnings of farmers and producers. Strengthening the growth and competitiveness of agriculture industry.

This is the right move as its benefit will spread to all the farmers who are in the majority in Sabah.

Our state can be like Australia and New Zealand where farmers are also in the middle class.

Food security and agriculture produce for export can be very promising. Many fruits can be like “mau sang wang” durians that will fetch good prices for farmers.

Intensifying the growth of oil and gas industry. Generating high income to the State's economy and to stimulate the downstream economic growth and local development. Boosting the State's economic growth and involvement of local companies.

A few billion Ringgit of investment are already on the ground in SOGIP. More can be expected.

This initiative will deliver jobs and business opportunities for Sabahans.

To expand broadband services in Sabah.

Expansion of broadband services will have profound effect on the economy, the most important of which it will place our business enterprises on par with companies in the developed countries. It will facilitate more Y generations to enter international business and enhance their creativity.

Inclusion of young talents into politics.

Such a move to infuse new blood is an essential part of renewal in our political life for Sabah’s future is in the hands of young Sabahans. Dr Pamela Yong is the best example. She is a candidate for Luyang.

I know her well. She is well qualified, brilliant, a caring doctor, and loving mother to her 4 lovely children.

She has succeeded to strike a good balance between professional career and family.

Wishing to create a better Sabah has drawn her to stand for election. I am confident Pamela will serve Luyang and Sabah well as she is passionate in doing her best in whatever she has set her mind to.

In the final analysis, we vote for our economic future. Not all leaders can bring economic progress.

In fact, most have failed as we can see in our own history. Some even inflicted economic regression resulting in untold economic hardship for the people for more than 20 years. Beware of those who over promise, too ready to criticize but offer no real vision and concrete plan.

Be discern and examine the candidates’ track records because our future is at stake, vote for realistic economic vision, experience, performance and overall economic leadership if we want Sabah to continue on the path of progress.

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