SEPTEMBER 10 ― In our Sabah Election 2020 WhatsApp Group, started and administered by lawyer Bob Munang, there are about 250 members comprising civil society members, lawyers, YBs and would-be YBs, politicians from across the spectrum, ministers, retired civil servants, political pundits, armchair commentators and more.
We came together to brainstorm and look at what values we as Sabahans hold dear, to discuss the upcoming elections, and to compile ideas on what kind of government and governance matters to us today.
Following is a list that has been compiled from all the feedback we got from participants. We want to share it with voters and with political leaders ― in the hope that they will listen to our “People’s Think Tank” and include it in their manifestos.
While some of these ideas are not new or original, and the list may not be exhaustive or perfect, this is Our Wish List for Sabah.
With grateful thanks to all those who contributed.
For further information, contact:
― Datuk Johan Ariffin Samad: +6012 827 7701
― Roland Cheng: +6012 833 6572
― Bob Munang: + 6019 801 7337
Our wishlist for Sabah
• Race and Religion should not be politicised. There must be separation between State and Religion.
• Education is what will lift our people out of poverty.
― Monitoring the building of schools and maintenance should be under State control.
― Introduce more early childhood education centres.
― More qualified teachers in key subjects - Maths, the Sciences, Bahasa Malaysia and English ― especially in rural areas.
― Introduce tablets and computers for efficient learning in schools – especially in rural areas.
― Frequently review the High School syllabus to include considerations of qualifications required in the job market and workplace.
― Restore the free milk program in schools that was started in 1976.
• Telecommunication infrastructure and services must be available to all, including in rural areas.
― To have a full range of medical specialties available throughout Sabah.
― Extend medical care to remote areas.
― Sabah should reactivate the Flying Doctor Service and mobilise frequent mobile medical service in remote areas.
― A vaccination programme from birth onwards should be available to everyone.
• Electricity in Sabah must be further improved to minimise outages and disruptions, giving special attention to:
― A stable and sufficient supply of electricity for industrial use and rural electrification.
― Proceed with the Papar Dam.
― Establish more renewable energy sources such as Solar and Wind-Powered Turbines.
• To eradicate corruption in the civil service and among all government functionaries.
― In the interests of good governance transparency there should be Freedom of Information in Sabah. The Official Secrets Act (OSA) should only be used to safeguard national security.
• Government tenders
To minimise corrupt practices in the government tendering process:
― The minimum number of participants for each tender should be 5.
― The tender process should be expeditious and transparent.
― The tender committee should include at least one member from civil society and one representative from any of the opposition parties who is suitably qualified.
― In the case of projects that arouse much public interest and concern, a public forum should be held to explain the project to the public and to give the public due opportunity to air their views and concerns about the project, and to seek public support.
― The Environmental Impact Assessment process should not be left solely to the promoters of the project.
― All tenders should be listed on a government website at least 2 weeks before the tendering process and the successful bidder(s) should be disclosed on the website upon completion of the tender giving details of the bids and grounds for the award.
― The Local Purchase Order (LPO) for any equipment or goods that are urgently required
must be first referred to a knowledgeable person such as a Quantity Surveyor or a valuer who is duly authorised to give an opinion on such matters.
― Upon completion of work, proper checks and certification should be carried out before final payment is made.
― The Treasury Instructions should be followed.
• Revenues and the economy
― Sabah must take charge of its revenue-earning resources, and in particular should seek to increase the oil royalties equitably.
― Federal financial allocations for projects in Sabah should be channelled directly to Sabah as early in the financial year as possible to enable state implementing agencies ample time to complete the project(s).
― The Sabah government should work out a mechanism with the federal government whereby the state has first call on revenue collection, and then remit 60 percent to the Federal Government, thus pre-empting on its 40 percent revenue share as stipulated in the Constitution.
― Regardless of which party(ies) are elected to administer Sabah, Sabah must insist that the federal government will make good its responsibility and provide full financial allocations for development and operational purposes out of His Majesty's Treasury to which Sabah bears a major share in revenue contributions.
― Improve port facilities and remove the cabotage policy to reduce cost of imports and exports and to forestall any disruption in shipping.
― Set up a tax free zone in the West and East coasts of Sabah to attract sustainable and environmentally-responsible local and multinational companies to create employment in Sabah.
― Open up Sabah’s international connectivity by increasing international flights to all Sabah’s airports to attract and promote tourism.
― Create a sustainable masterplan, in consultation with industry players, for the long-term development of tourism.
― Tourism legislation pertaining to definitions, licensing, administration, promotion, regulations, vehicle control, tax and enforcement to come under State control instead of the Federal List.
― Upgrade sanitation cleanliness, especially in public toilets. New toilet designs should be
introduced with help from the private sector.
― Our sea and beaches must be given added attention, and new ways must be found to deal
with the plastic pollution.
― The state must step up efforts to clear the squatter colonies and unsightly tenements on the fringes of our towns and villages.
― The government should revive homestead agriculture in addition to helping the rural people get into viable commodity-crop agriculture, aquaculture and other economic activities in the rural and coastal areas.
― Offer Agriculture loans to rural farmers.
― Review the land leases issued to big companies, including Public Listed Companies (PLCs).
― Transmigrate genuine landless local natives en bloc to the East Coast of Sabah and allocate pre-planned 5 hectare-lots per family.
― PLCs to be encouraged to improve Corporate Social Responsibility work for these communities.
― Revive and enforce the policy that every commodity plantation company must set aside
10 per cent of their land holding suitable for food crop cultivation, principally rice, to promote food security.
• Oil and gas
― Sabah to have no fewer than 3 representatives on the Petronas Board of Directors.
― Sabahans and Sarawakians to be given an equal opportunity to nominate the Petronas Chairman and members on the Petronas Board.
• Palm oil
― Taxes from oil palm should accrue to the state that produces the Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB).
• Set a timeline for the full implementation of MA63
Constitution to be amended to restore Sabah's position as one of three component members of Malaysia as was originally intended as per MA63.
• Sabah’s representation on national bodies
― Sabah and Sarawak should together hold a minimum of one-third of the seats in the Dewan Rakyat.
― Sabah and Sarawak should together have one-third representation on all Commissions such as the Energy, Competition, Election and Securities Commissions as well as the Civil Service, Police and Armed Forces. This is to ensure that Sabah and Sarawak are included in policy making at the national level.
• Policies or laws made in West Malaysia should not be automatically extended to Sabah.
― Policies or laws made in West Malaysia must be put before the Dewan Undangan Negeri for approval and adoption.
• Sabah to take full control of:
― State immigration and registration of births and deaths;
― The Transport department;
― Our own Marine department.
― And to set up our Home Guard, a state-controlled arm of the police force.
― The Chief minister's tenure should be limited to two terms.
― All Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Sabah members must attend a suitable induction course on government procedures, the state law and the Federal & State Constitution as well as Sabah's history leading to the formation of Malaysia.
― All Dewan Undangan Negeri Sabah members and MPs must be made familiar with the Malaysia Agreement of 1963, and the Inter-Governmental Committee report.
― Political parties should work towards more female representation in the DUN.
• Sabah’s Head of State ― this position should be rotated amongst indigenous groups in the state, and be chosen in consultation with a Council of Elders of each group, which they will be encouraged to form.
• In the event of a "hung" Dewan Undangan Negeri Sabah
― The hung parliament situation should automatically trigger a one-week moratorium on swearing in of any Chief Minister or ministers.
― This is to allow the parties to work out a coalition arrangement to establish a viable, stable majority in government.
― During this moratorium period, the Istana should be out-of-bounds to all parties and
• Code of Ethics amongst political parties
― Contesting parties should subscribe to a Code of Ethics that includes rules not to try to topple a democratically-elected government or alliance within its 5-year term, but to function as responsible Opposition as envisaged by democratic tenets and traditions.
― End the Zero Sum Game culture of Sabah politics that impels "winner-wins-all and losers-lose-all" following an election.
― This applies particularly to appointments to statutory bodies, local councils, the government-linked companies and other government bodies.
• Treatment of the Opposition
― Opposition members should be given due respect as the Peoples’ Representatives who have an important role to play in our democracy.
― The Opposition should be encouraged to form a Shadow Cabinet to scrutinise the work of the ministries of the government of the day.
― Opposition People’s Representatives to be given development funds for their constituencies comparable to government-held constituencies.
• Local government elections
― The President/ Executives/Councillors of the various municipalities and District Councils of the State should be elected once every 5 years.
• The environment
― To address the discharge of waste into our drainage and sewerage system.
― To lessen our dependence on land-fills, we should install an incinerator system in order to recycle household and other solid wastes into ashen material for fertiliser.
― For flood control, the government should make it mandatory for large pieces of land to have a 10 to 50 metre riparian reserve.
― Government should step up efforts to enforce fines for indiscriminate littering.
― Government to criminalise any pollution of waterways that affects our water supply and the environment.
― To consult with non-government organisations on environmental and wildlife
• Civil service
― While recruitments, appointments and promotions in the Sabah Civil Service are technically based on merit and qualifications, the makeup of the Civil Service should, as far as practicable, reflect Sabah's population in terms of race and gender.
― Introduce creche and nursery services at government offices for mothers and single fathers in the medium term.
• Town planning
― Initiate long-term urban planning in towns and cities which is more socially inclusive and sensitive to the environment.
― Restrict building heights in cities.
― Stop reclamation, protect our ecosystem and ocean life.
― Build efficient public transport services and networks for the city and the surrounding towns and rural areas.
― Where possible, provide and enforce dedicated bus routes to ease traffic congestion.
― Initiate planning and discussions for an LRT system around Kota Kinabalu.
― Look into the construction of a tunnel through Signal Hill in KK to ease the parking
problem in KK.
• Native Affairs
― Given that most of the indigenous people in Sabah are non-Muslims whose customs are their way of life, Native Affairs and Native Courts should be headed by non-Muslim natives.
• Access to legal advice
― The Sabah government, with the cooperation of the Sabah Law Society, should set up community law centres all over the state to provide free, good quality legal advice to those who cannot afford it.
• Assistance for older and senior citizens
― The government and private sector should work together to provide more assistance to senior citizens by providing discounts for a wider range of services.
― Senior citizens should also be given free access to public transport.
― Assistance in the form of loans or other methods for those from 50 to 65 years of age whose businesses are struggling because of the pandemic should be looked into.
• Improve service to the public
― All government, utility, telecommunications and other service providers should improve their service to the public.
― They should be open for business on weekends, where practical.
― Their websites should provide mobile numbers for text communication, enquiries and complaints, careline information as well as email addresses.
― Online payment systems should be established for all services.
• Push for the release of the ban on The Golden Son of the Kadazan book by Bernard Sta Maria.
• Celebrate Sabah Day on August 31 in place of Malaya's Merdeka Day celebration. Celebrate Malaysia Day as National Day.
• Seek a solution to the PTI issue that is acceptable to the people of Sabah.
* Contributors: Anuar Ghani • Beter G Majilang • Christine Van Houten • Clarence Sinsua • Datin Fazar Arif • Dato’ Rahman Ghani • Datuk Johan Ariffin Samad • Datuk John Anthony • Datuk Stan Yee • Dr Raymond Alfred • Faridah Stephens • Fauziah Stephens • Fred Chong • Fred @ Don Bosco • Ignatius Matayun • Jude Kessey • Mervyn John Baxter • Petrus M Jikiun • Pritchard Gumbaris • Remy Majangkim • Robert Munang • Roger Richard Tami • Roland Cheng • Rothwell Sebastian • Uzair Yahya • Wilfred Lingam • York Fang
** This is the personal opinion of the writer(s) or organisation(s) and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.