Monday, June 23, 2008

Sabahans Not Happy

Sabahans Not Happy
24 June, 2008

The New Sabah Times Monday (23 June) reported that many Sabahans are seriously unhappy with the way they have been treated since the state, along with Sarawak and Singapore, joined the Malaysian federation in 1963.

Singapore left Malaysia in 1965 but Sabah and Sarawak stayed on, and some now feel that was a bad decision.

“When Sabah and Sarawak joined in 1963, a 20-point clause was inserted into the merger agreement promising political autonomy, major development aid and much more,” says James Chin, who has written extensively on the state.

“Unfortunately, over the last 45 years, most Sabahans feel the government has not lived up to their end of the bargain.”

“Much of the state’s natural oil reserves go to the federal government but less than five percent is returned to the people here,” he said told AFP.

Many Sabahans are also worried about the large numbers of Muslim Filipinos who have settled here illegally, tipping the ethnic balance against indigenous tribes who were formerly in the majority.

In peninsular Malaysia, Muslim Malays are the dominant population, alongside large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

“The issue of immigration is the mother of all problems in Sabah and we must stop all these Muslim foreigners who are coming in illegally,” said Wilfred Tanggau, secretary general of the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) which is also part of the ruling coalition.

Development has also been slow in coming for the state which is about half the size of peninsular Malaysia, carved by massive mountain ranges and with many primitive villages and towns that remain almost inaccessible.

“It is important to shatter the government’s attitude that they can ignore Sabah and continue to rule this country,” state opposition leader Jeffrey Kitigan told AFP. (MySinchew)

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