Sabah could have built the first highway in Malaysia and the first stretch of the Federal Highway from KL to Klang which abruptly ended at Batu 3 Shah Alam in 1976 would be of no match to the grandeur of the Sabah highway plying through Tawau-Lahad Datu-Sandakan-KK-Beaufort through breath-taking sceneries and changing into cooler weathers in Kundasang while traversing along the ravines and dangerous curves along the hills.
This would be the case if the virgin forests in Sabah had not been raped and plundered by the greedy timber tycoons in cohorts with the dirty politicians at the time when the indigenous people of Sabah were totally exploited and were denied their rights and any form of development while Sandakan held the world record for the highest number of millionaires per square mile.
Sabah would also have the needed schools, universities, hospitals, deep seaports and airports. Jobs would be abundant with so many factories and Sabah could have been like Penang now which has to import workers from the neighbouring states and counties to work in the factories.
The standard of living in Sabah could have been the envy of others in the Peninsula. Sabah could have dictated UMNO/BN to do what Sabah wants and not at UMNO’s mercy like today.
Then whether by fluke or as a result of some kind of awareness, the Sabah Foundation was created to ensure Sabahans of all ethnicity will be supported financially and the most ambitious plan was to educate the whole population of Sabah. The Sabah Foundation got its money from the timber too. But all were wasted because like New Economic Policy, the foundation was misused and the plans were not executed properly.
Many Sabahan that were given the education opportunity were not prepared for it. They were either below standards or simply were not qualified to further their studies beyond secondary schools. While the Sabah Foundation managed to be the seen as the hope of all Sabahans, its performance however is disappointing and mired with corruption.
In the end, Joseph Pairin Kitingan used the Sabah Foundation for his political advancement and with his younger brother Jeffrey as the foundation’s chairman, they abandoned BN and tried to rule Sabah independently with the Kadazan-Dusun community being the dominant Bumiputera. At the peak of the plunder of the Sabah Foundation, Jeffrey was purportedly bring back RM65,000 per month besides other perks and facilities. It was scandalously exorbitant in those days, similar to what Rozali takes home now being the boss of Syabas.
In the end, Pairin failed miserably and Mahathir taught him the lesson of never to be smart and challenge the master ever again and he became timid like a mouse. Both brothers have never been brotherly ever since. The Sabah people were once again left on their own.
Now when Sabah has practically nothing, no proper roads, no proper piped water, not enough schools, no reliable electrical supply, no efficient medical care and no many other things, but flooded with illegal immigrants who may one day claim to be the dominant Bumiputera, will the Sabahan be able to use the present political climate and scenario to make sure that the true Sabahans of all ethnicities will at last get the benefits?
Sabah must change the government and at the same time have some hold on the federal government. Pakatan Rakyat is the most viable party and the window of opportunity for Sabahans will come in the form of the GE-13. Like all opportunities, it never comes so often.
Now with the apparent breakup of the Sabah BN, both the Sabah politicians and the Sabahans themselves must put aside all differences and cooperate together to achieve one goal. Sabah must have its own power to determine its future for the betterment of the state with the help from the federal government and never be sidelined ever again.
However with the trends showed by the Sabah politicians who are the real people to be blamed for all the troubles in Sabah, the people of Sabah may have to wait for future opportunities.
Sabah politicians are erratic, self-centred, egoist, untrustworthy, unprincipled, greedy, corrupt and truly undependable to fight and cater for Sabahans.
They may leave UMNO/BN, be independent or even join PR and win the elections, but they can never be trusted when UMNO offers them positions and promise them all the goodies. The fate of Sabah is in the hands of the Sabahans themselves but will be determined by their politicians. Please don’t blame others for that.