MAY 11 — A friend of mine complained that the Facebook page of a rep for a place in Sabah, that has gone viral for its decaying bridges, has been blocking people, allowing only those who would leave positive comments.

The same rep’s overzealous supporter also filed a police report because someone didn’t include the rep in a thank you note for helping secure helicopters for teachers needing to to reach a remote school.

Of course on Facebook you can see why our elected might think they’re gods on earth as it’s the place where you will see endless fawning messages that are mostly some variation of  “Thank you YB.”

All through the pandemic, Sabahans have been in the news for the most pitiful of reasons — climbing trees or up hills just to get the best mobile reception for online classes.

Now the focus is on dangerous, rickety bridges and yet, the thing is, nothing of this is new.

Even in my 20s there would be reports of schools just on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu that were little more than shacks and even now, many children in the interior must battle the elements and long distances to attend school.

The challenges of improving infrastructure in Sabah are myriad. 

As an old school teacher of mine used to say, “It’s not like we can just punch holes in the mountains.”

Getting enough of an allocation to maintain existing infrastructure as well as attend to the state’s other needs has been, if you ask most Sabah politicians, an uphill battle.

It’s rather hard to sympathise with some of them when you see them living in huge houses with swimming pools while their constituents barely eke out a living.

The challenges of improving infrastructure in Sabah are myriad. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
The challenges of improving infrastructure in Sabah are myriad. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Politics in Malaysia is a money game and unfortunately Sabah reps, like most Malaysian politicians, are easily seduced by the trappings of comfort to the point they do not see the problem in their living standards being so different from that of their constituents.

Thanks to social media, too many of them too happily flaunt their large houses and new cars, while in their constituencies, kids risk drowning to go to school.

Those teachers I mentioned before, it took a lot of noise and mobilising from NGOs to get those helicopters.

Must Sabahans all climb trees or stand on rickety bridges to finally get our voices heard and our state’s development on par with how it should be in 2022?

At this rate, locals might just have to carve a simple message on Gunung Kinabalu that perhaps our leaders might see across the South China Sea: where is our money?

* This is the personal view of the columnist.