KOTA KINABALU - It’s high time for the Chinese in Sabah to abandon the Barisan Nasional and without hesitation support the four-party Gabungan Sabah, said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, President of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR).
He made this observation in response to deputy chief minister Raymond Tan who just expressed his confidence that the Chinese community would give Barisan Nasional another mandate in GE-14 to form the government at state and federal levels.
“The Chinese voters should now support our local parties in the Gabungan instead of the BN and other parties,” the Bingkor assemblyman said.
“The Chinese in Sabah and Sarawak are in a unique position because they enjoy rights which their Chinese fellow Malaysians in Malaya do not have. This is all because of the special rights and position of Sabah and Sarawak in the formation of Malaysia as set out and agreed to by the founding fathers in 1963.”
Dr. Jeffrey observed that instead of gaining more rights as Malaysian citizens, the Chinese in Malaya have suffered losses of their rights since 1957 and today are heavily discriminated against by the Umno-led Federal government.
“Now it has gotten worse with the strong anti-Chinese sentiments under the extremism of the Ketuanan Melayu policy, which includes anti-religious and racist politics practiced by the ruling elites.
Even in the BN the Malayan Chinese BN parties are openly insulted in the UMNO general assemblies under the rhetoric of Malay supremacists. The insults are being spread in Sabah with the recent incident of Umno wanting to borrow the Matunggong seat from PBS
“If the Chinese in Sabah choose to be aligned with their fellow Chinese in Malaya, it won’t be surprising if they will soon be treated as second-class citizens as is the case for their counterparts in Malaya. On the other hand, if the Chinese in Sabah opt to be aligned with their fellow Sabahans as ‘Bangsa Sabah’ and co-operate to fight for the restoration of the rights and privileges of Sabah promised during the formation of Malaysia, then they will get to enjoy all the rights and privileges as Sabahans, placing them far above the socio-political position compared to their counterparts in Malaya,” Jeffrey said.
“The Gabungan Sabah believes that the rights and privileges of Sabah in Malaysia should be available to all Sabahans irrespective of race, religion or creed.
“For instance, the revenues from oil and gas that are pumped out from the earth in Sabah are God-given riches for Sabah. It is meant for all Sabahans and not for Malays and non-Malays are not entitled or, worse still, 95% to Petronas and the Federal government, and diverted to develop Malaya with Sabah largely neglected,” he said.
“Petronas and the Federal government is estimated to receive RM25.04 billion in 2018, but expected to be much higher as the estimates are based on USD52 per barrel whereas in reality the price oil is currently hovering around USD70-USD72 per barrel.
“Similarly, the 40% net revenues derived from Sabah are available to all Sabahans and which have been denied to us since 1974. When this 40% net revenues are returned to Sabah, it will be for the development and progress of Sabah and all Sabahans irrespective race, religion and ethnicity. No doubt the Chinese will be the movers in commercial and industrial sector, playing the principal roles in Sabah’s economic development.
“As such, the Chinese in Sabah need to be aware of these realities and should oppose the politics of race and religion imported from Malaya. They should not be dragged into thinking and voting along racial lines as in Malaya. They should vote for the revival of Sabah rights for our common good,” Dr. Jeffrey added.
He expressed disappointment that Minister Raymond Tan, who himself is a Sabahan, is trying to use pro-Malaya propaganda to try to sway the Sabahan Chinese to support the BN in PRU14. Dr. Jeffrey said the Chinese in Sabah need to think deeper and analyse the various issues raised by Raymond Tan. They will realize that Raymond Tan’s propaganda citing BN’s supposedly excellent track record in managing state and national affairs for the well-being of the people regardless of race is not true.
“Yes, Sabah has received allocations and has enjoyed developments until now. But the development and progress in Sabah would have been substantially better without BN or without Malaysia. The world’s 3rd richest country, Singapore, a tiny island state smaller than the District of Kota Kinabalu and without any natural resources unlike Sabah, is a very good example, just like neighbouring Brunei which too is without Umno and BN,” he said.
“The Chinese in Sabah, as well as other Sabahans, should not be swayed by clever BN claims of development and progress in Sabah. Sabah is losing more than RM30 billion a year because the BN Federal government is refusing to return the revenues entitled to us. And the BN Sabah government continues to play dumb, refusing to call for return of these revenues.
“Imagine what Sabah would be like with the billions annually that the Gabungan Sabah-led Sabah government are committed to pursue as per the Federal Constitution! Just think how much more developed and progressive Sabah would have been if the 95% oil revenues and the 40% of net revenues were given back to us for our development and welfare, Chinese included.
“The moneys given by the government for Chinese schools, the Chinese communities, societies and religious bodies in Sabah are peanuts to what should be legitimate expectations. Education is a government responsibility, and since both the Federal and Sabah governments recognize Chinese schools, they should be fully funded just like the national schools,” he said.
“Giving a million ringgit here and there does not amount to recognizing Chinese education, more so in Sabah, where more than 35% of the enrolment in Chinese schools are natives, muslim and non-muslim bumiputeras and sino-natives.
“The RM300 million over 10 years for Chinese and mission schools as cited by Raymond Tan is not even enough to pay the salaries of teachers in the Chinese schools, leaving parents and the Chinese communities having to raise funds every year to help pay for the teachers’ salaries.
“After analyzing the propaganda spewed by Raymond Tan, perhaps the Sabah Chinese should re-ponder their votes in PRU-14. Apart from considering their community’s position and realizing the huge difference as Sabahan Chinese, they should also remind themselves that when they enter Sabah, they have unfettered access through the Immigration while the Chinese from Malaya would be given a white entry slip and only permitted to stay in Sabah for 90 days. With that difference, the Sabah Chinese should consider the future of their coming generations and whether to safeguard their interests and future as Sabahans and what the Sabah Rights will accord them in the future.
“With a strong Chinese support to oust the Umno/BN government for a historic regime change in Sabah, we can forge a new inter-racial co-operation for a new age of development and lift Sabah out of its curse of being the poorest state in Malaysia,” Dr. Jeffrey concluded.