Friday, May 11, 2012


Sabah is a land of potholes where, when the moon turns blue, politicians come to visit and to make long speeches and scatter empty promises. They tell us we should be grateful. They tell us not to complain. Sabah richest state soon: Dr M” the headline screamed on 2 May. What are we? Dumb and Dumber?

People who are strangers to Sabah don’t understand why we’re forever ranting about the injustice and unfair treatment we get from the federal government. Anak tiri, we call ourselves because that’s exactly how we feel.

Maybe we would not feel so bitter and angry if we hadn’t known a better time.

Sabah used to be a British colony called North Borneo but in 1963, chose to join Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak to form a brand new nation called the Federation of Malaysia. No, that’s not right. Let me re-phrase that… One third of Sabahans were in favour of forming Malaysia, one third against it and the rest were not sure. But Malaysia was formed anyway and Sabah found herself part of this new nation after declaring independence (from British rule) on 31 August 1963. Two weeks later, on 16 September, the Federation of Malaysia was formed. Apparently Singapore’s PM grew too big for his shoes so the pulau was booted out after only two years in the federation. It must have been easy kicking it out because the pulau lies at the tip of the peninsula… somewhat reminding me of a rhyme learnt in primary school: ‘long-legged Italy kicked little Sicily out into the Mediterranean Sea’.  

Across the South China Sea, Sabah—having been run and administered by the British for eighty years, was inexperienced and immature in politics and naively assumed that the central government really had the people’s interests at heart. However, 48 years in the federation, not only is Sabah still playing catch-up with the peninsula but we have been reduced from the richest to the poorest state. These days Sabah is often reminded to be grateful for pitiful handouts and because we are “merdeka melalui Malaysia”. Don’t even ask me what this means because I am confused too.

When that former PM was in KK at the beginning of May, he mentioned about his first visit to Sabah in 1965.

 “There were rumours,” he said, “that Sarawak and Sabah were going to join Singapore to form a new country.” So he and a fellow politician flew here to appeal to Sabahans not to leave the federation. During this visit he noted that there was this “Sabah leader who had a Jaguar car but he could only drive it past his house and a few kilometers ahead before having to return home”… because the road was very short!

I guess all the travelling this former PM did in Sabah was from the airport in Tanjung Aru to a hotel in town. Otherwise, he would have spotted the road running from  Jesselton/KK to Kota Belud. For half the distance it was  narrow and winding, no doubt, but nevertheless, it was 50 miles of sealed road—all built when Sabah was still a British colony.

Now we’re merdeka melalui Malaysia but our roads are nothing to crow about. In fact, many WMalaysians come here and make fun of our roads. “Our kampong roads are better than your highways,” they say. (Actually, Samivelu, when he was the JKR Big Boss, had said, “There are no highways in Sabah, only trunk roads.” I’m not here to tell people to mind their vocabulary. Not today, anyway.)

No doubt these comments are meant to embarrass and humiliate us…as though we are personally responsible for the poor condition of our roads. Surely they know that roads and bridges are under the purview of the federal government?

They boast about their twintowers and other sky-scrapers, their LRT and MRT, their keretapi and sky-bridges and their multi-laned highways lined with street lights. They come here and laugh at our old buildings and the mini craters scattered on our trunk roads and (if they happen to drive at night after a weekend on the mountains) they complain there’re no street lights just a few miles out of KK. They have no idea about the deplorable state of our roads just a few miles out of the city. Street lights? As rare as a federal minister’s visits.

Interestingly, when the current road and transport minister was here a few months ago, he said that Sabah roads are as good as those in WMalaysia. However, judging from pictures and petitions published in the dailies, websites and on Facebook, many Sabahans don’t quite agree with the YB’s statement.

I found the following pictures online. They’re credited to 1 Suara Sabah unless the original sources were traced. Let the pictures speak for us, the anak tiris.
Courtesy of 1Suara Sabah

Courtesy of 1Suara Sabah

Courtesy of 1Suara Sabah

Courtesy of 1Suara Sabah

Courtesy of D. Aloysius

Courtesy of J.A.Dusun

Courtesy of 1Suara Sabah

Courtesy of 1Suara Sabah

Courtesy of W.M. Majupi

Kids on their way to school. (1Suara Sabah)

On the way to school (Cikgu Mereni)

This is in Malaya. Courtesy of Derek Dryland

Same sky bridge in Malaya (D.Dryland)

Are you convinced that the roads in Sabah are as good as those in Malaya?

We frequently ask: what happens to our oil revenue?

The former PM said S. Arabia produces 12 million barrels of oil per day. We’re not interested in how much oil (or dates or sheep or manure) other countries are producing. We just want to know where the 95% of our oil revenue is piped to because we need money to build better roads and repair the old ones. We’re not begging for other people’s money. We’re only asking for what rightfully should belong to Sabah.




  1. To sabahans, this is a common knowledge. To the west m'sians this is somewhat known but they refuse to acknowledge.

    If you haven't already you may want to read few interesting findings by Sarawak Report.

  2. Tina,
    this is a very emotional, close to our heart issue and you articulated it very well.

    i was screaming "palui!" when PM announced that sabah is no longer the poorest state in the country on his recent visit. as if the manipulated stat revealed anything new or anything to cheer on. budu!