Thursday, 7 January 2016

2015 tough but Sabah becoming more resilient, says Yong

Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee said occurrence on a number of events had made 2015 tough but it may be a blessing in disguise as Sabah is becoming more resilient.

In an environment of economic downturn, he said Sabahans like most Malaysians, would have to tighten their belts further in weathering the coming year.

Be that as it may, he said out of the top 10 events that have an impact on Sabah's future, eight are positive in the long run.

"The emergence of non-party activists fighting for Sabah's rights, like Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM), the author of the book Queen's Obligations, MOSIK and other NGOs is a sure sign that ordinary Sabahans are taking up the fight for Sabah's rights.

"The sedition trial of the 'Tuaran 4' will bring forth many grievances of Sabahans. Similarly, the claim for the '40 per cent entitlement from the Federal net revenue led by a senior federal minister with activists, professionals and the local opposition, shows a non-partisan unity of fellow Sabahans fighting for Sabah.

"The coming together of Sabah local parties under the Gabungan Sabah (United Sabah Alliance) and the commemoration of Merdeka at Kundasang and Oath Stone at Keningau has struck the right chord with the people's desire to see a united Sabah opposition," he said.

Yong, who is also Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President, said this in his statement on Tuesday. He said the Ranau earthquake, though tragic, has displayed the heroism of ordinary Sabahans, the mountain guides, and the collective consciousness of Sabahans as the earthquake has made Sabahans more self-confident, self-reliant and proud of being Sabahans.

At the same time, he said the weakening of Malayan parties, especially the internal turmoil within Umno, and Umno-PAS co-operation will weaken Barisan Nasional (BN) in Sabah.

"Issues of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), 1MDB and financial weaknesses of Malaya have revealed to Sabahans that we have to save Sabah from Malaya.

"The demise of Pakatan Rakyat is causing the Malayan parties' influence in Sabah to wane. Racial and religious polarisation in Malaya, racial incidents like Low Yat, have eroded the confidence of Sabahans towards the Malayan model of national unity," he said.

Yong said Sarawak's reawakening as a powerful voice for Sarawak autonomy has energised Sabah's movement for autonomy.

Similarly, he said the Johor Sultan's outspokenness and unexpected hints of leaving Malaysia, makes Sabah feel no longer lonely.

Further ashore, at the United Kingdom, Yong said the victory of the Scottish National Party in defeating both the Labour Party and the ruling Conservative Party, in a parliamentary democracy similar to ours, show the people of Sabah a way forward.

"The international superpower play going on at the South China Sea will play out in the decades to come.

"Knowing China's history, China's military might is to prevent any war from breaking out in the first place. Hence, the maritime Silk Road concept and the 60 billion dollar Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are soft strategies of China that can benefit Malaysia.

Depending on how Malaysia protects its sovereign interests, there is a silver lining in the South China Sea issue," he said on international issue that concerns the State and Malaysia.

On economic aspect, Yong said the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), like all trade accords, will have its pros and cons for all the countries involved.

"As TPPA will open up a huge market for Sabah's palm oil, our economy and State revenues will benefit. These benefits will help offset the strengthening of the US Dollar due to the rise of US interest rates.

"Sabah has too small an industrial base and intellectual properties to be affected by TPPA. In the long run, TPPA will force the Malaysian (and Sabah) economy to be more efficient.

This is like the International Tropical Timber Agreement 1994 which had forced Sabah to adopt Sustainable Forest Management by 2000 with long term benefits.

"Although the fall of crude oil prices from 100 USD to 35 USD will affect Sabah's revenues, the drop in oil prices has eased the upward pressures on inflation," he said.

The low point for Sabah in 2015 has to be the tragic beheading of the Sarawakian tourist who was kidnapped from Sandakan, Yong said.

"The beheading brings home to Sabahans the reality of gruesome violence that we read about only in international news.

"The feared 'perfect storm', a combination of all the armed groups in the Philippines with hostile intention towards Sabah, will test our security forces to its limits," he said.

In an environment of general lawlessness, Yong said the kidnap for ransom gangs and official corruption, the failure of the peace process in Southern Philippines will undoubtedly pose serious challenges for Sabah.

"This has been admitted openly by the police. The failure of the Philippines to honour its peace agreement with Bangsamoro to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law by this year will, as forewarned by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), lead to terrorism and more violence. "This is already happening as amplified by the latest execution of villagers by extremist groups who mimic Middle Eastern 'fear factor' tactics.

"Furthermore, the Philippines' 'Sabah Claim' is taking centre stage in the Philippines elections campaign as high profile candidates are openly campaigning for the "Sabah Claim".

Their election results in May 2016 will have a strong bearing on our relations with the Philippines," he said. All in all, Yong said 2015 has been a tough year for Sabahans but it has a silver lining of longer term benefits arising from our growing resilience as a people.

Source: Daily Express
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