Saturday, May 24, 2008

Government must take immediate steps to develop Sabah - The Star


SABAH Barisan’s Members of Parliament are flexing their muscles to get a better deal for the state. They are demanding that the federal government immediately look into their grouses.

Basically, they want more development for the state, and that its MPs be given important portfolios in the federal Cabinet. Otherwise they might look for other options to fulfil their objectives.

They based their latest demand on the fact that Sabahans had been taken for granted for too long though the state Barisan had always delivered support to prop up the federal government.

They are becoming more vocal because it is their support that is keeping Barisan’s simple majority in Parliament. They would now like to be given due recognition for their unstinting support all these years.

Their timing is also excellent, with the emergence of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat. The Pakatan gained an astonishing 82 parliamentary seats and control of five state governments.

With Barisan reeling from this shocking election result, Sabah MPs believe it is now the right time to ask for their due, as their support is crucial to the survival of the Barisan government.

In the past few weeks, all the talk of crossovers to Pakatan had created uncertainties in Barisan ranks, and there were daily reports that Sabah’s MPs were the target.

But even if all the Sabah MPs were to defect, it would still not be sufficient to topple the Government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In this respect, it is encouraging that all Umno MPs threw their support behind Pak Lah at a meeting on Tuesday and, hopefully, this will put to rest all speculation on crossovers.

Sabah MPs from all component parties had managed to put across their unhappiness personally to Pak Lah, who had taken note of all of them.

However, even the state’s MPs realise that it would take some time to implement all that they asked for. In fact, such development had already been spelt out in the 9th Malaysia Plan, which is now in progress.

Even if all the money is available, a quickened pace of implementation could only be possible when all the elements, such as manpower and equipment, are in place.

It is also quite unrealistic to expect that all the basic amenities, such as electricity, water, roads, clinics and other facilities be installed immediately on par with those in urban areas.

So, just handing money over to the state government will not solve all the problems. The Peninsular Malaysia experience has shown that after 50 years of Merdeka, many rural areas are still lacking facilities.

The state government should be happy that its complaints have been acknowledged, and its federal ministers and deputy ministers should keep on monitoring the situation

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