Johnathan of Singapore directed me to this article posted in Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang's site last month. These are some of the points I have gleaned from the article which was written by A True Sabahan.As a true Sabahan also, I am qualified to answer many of the accusations and issues raised. This will ruffle a lot of feathers, to put it lightly, but I have always been opinionated so there.
The question Johnathan asked was: How true is the article in depicting Sabah? Very roughly, these are the major points:
1. Water Rationing
According to A True Sabahan, due to water shortage, people here do not flush their toilets until "the stench is really became unbearable, looking yellowish in color", "we are only allowed to wash our hair on Monday and Thursday, the days when there are water supply coming in". I take a deep breath. In my house, the color is not yellow, it's brown and the stench sends you reeling. We have water supply everyday, the pipes gush and pour with great force. The toilet condition is only in the toilet used by my boys. It is a constant battle to get them to flush, and they think I am a witch because I am always going on about their not flushing. So my answer to this is, if your toilet stinks, it's plain bad habits. Also, I wash my hair every other day.
However, I live in the state capital, Kota Kinabalu or KK or short. A True Sabahan lives in Sandakan, the ex-capital of Sabah. Sandakan is well known for 3 things: timber (now depleted), seafood (now threatened) and being a hard-core opposition town.
Timber brought in so much wealth to Sabah that in the 70s, Sabah was known as the richest state in Malaysia. Timber businessmen in Sandakan were called 'tycoons' and they had big gaudy gem rings on every finger and gold and diamond Rolexes on their fat wrists. You aren't a tycoon if you don't have mistresses, and many rumors circulated about how HK and Taiwan actresses and singers were flown into Sandakan (just like causcasian girls were sent to Brunei in the 80s). The biggest houses and best cars were found in Sandakan. Revenues that the state received from timber were not re-directed into development and industries; timber tycoons were often working hand in hand with government officers cutting thousands of hectares of protected jungle. And then the town fell into the hands of the Opposition, the DAP. For a long time (over a decade) the town was left to rot as the Federal Govt far away in Kuala Lumpur punished the people of sandakan for sticking to their guns. I for one respect the people of Sandakan who had more values and brains than the rest of the people in the state. When PBS came in, I celebrated too. I voted for them, I respected them, I had hopes they would do the state proud. Look what happened. They betrayed us all for their own gain. They sold the state. That's all I want to say on this.
Back to the water issue. Once in a long while, we do experience a water cut but that's mostly because some pipes nearby need fixing. So as far as water is concerned, we have plentiful. We should sell some to the Australians. They can't water their plants or wash their cars and I'm sure they don't wash their hair (and body) as often as we do. You can't blame them, because the country is mostly desert. But here, in tropical Borneo where the rain (as it is doing now) POURS nearly every afternoon, there is no reason for A True Sabahan's suffering. So who is to blame?
2. Power Outage
This one is true. After living in Canada for 4 years where I never once experienced a power blackout, I came back to frequent blackouts in the 80s. Even now, we still get a sudden power cut once in a while. Things have improved, but still, this is 2008. Try baking a cake and halfway when the cake is puffed, the power goes. Or blogging and pop, your draft is not saved. Or it's pouring and your auto gate is down. Or it's a muggy night and your aircon and fan stay still. Or you are at the lights and 2 hours later your're still there because there's no lights and the traffic police is nowhere. Or you are having your appendix removed and pop! they can't get the generator going...That's why every time there's a power cut, I call SEB and shout, "Ini 2008! Apa kau ini potong potong saja, hah?!"
3. Neglected State
This one is so true I don't know where to start. If flyovers, as A True Sabahan said, is a sign of development, then I am pleased to announce that this year, 3 flyovers have opened in KK. The first flyovers in the state. I hate flyovers.
The fact that this was the richest state in Malaysia only 30 years ago and now is the poorest of all the 13 states is already proof of the neglect, rape and destruction of this state. I was watching the Palin-Biden live debate a couple of weeks ago and much as I tried to not like her, I found myself really rooting for Palin so much so that I wished the Americans have a choice of an Obama-Palin ticket. I salute Palin for standing up for voting against fuel taxes because Alaska is an energy-producing state. So is Sabah, you stupid Sabahan leaders! One by one our Chief Ministers come and go, each time kowtowing and kissing the arses of the Fed leaders. Giving away 96% of our oil revenues. Giving away Labuan. Giving giving giving. The state now has to beg for help while politicians continue with their fast lives and big mansions. Who's to blame??
note: there are many more issues raised. I will stop here. It's too upsetting to continue. I need a coffee.