Speech (2) by Lim Kit Siang at the Sabah DAP
forum “Malaysia – Towards A New Era” at Kian Kok Middle School Hall,
Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, 16th September 2008:
“916″ symbolised the yearnings of
Sabahans for a new Malaysia where they enjoy full citizenship status and
benefits as Malaysians
“916” this year has added significance, as it
marks not only Malaysia Day but also the yearnings of Sabahans for a new
Malaysia where they enjoy full citizenship status and benefits as
In the past 45 years, Sabahans have been denied their full citizenship
rights – which is symbolised most vividly by the government failure to
declare Malaysia Day on September 16 as a national public holiday.
After 45 years, Sabah’s problems are more than a basketful.
Sabah is a rich state with vast natural resources but the people of
Sabah have been denied an equitable share of the wealth of the state.
Not only hard-core poverty, but poverty, should have been eradicated in
Sabah by now. Instead, poverty in Sabah is the worst in the country.
Last year, I raised in Parliament the tragedy of the suicide of a
11-year-old Dusun boy from Kinarut, Donny John Dion, because of acute
and desperate poverty of his family by hanging himself at home at
Kampung Suangon in the Papar parliamentary constituency.
It is a state and national disgrace that in the 21st century,
11-year-old Donny could be driven to suicide because of the poverty and
deprivation suffered by his family 45 years after the birth of Malaysia.
The Sabah Chief Minister should have resigned in shame and disgrace at a
scandal like Donny’s suicide but there had neither been moral stirrings
nor sense of responsibility by any of the Barisan Nasional leaders
whether at state or national level for Donny’s tragedy.
Secondly, there is the problem of an equitable share of Sabahans in the
“black gold” in the state.
A Pakatan Rakyat federal government will ensure that Sabah will get 20%
of the oil royalty from Petronas and not just 5%, so that greater
resources can be devoted for the development and empowerment of ordinary
Thirdly, the long-standing rampant corruption in Sabah. The state tops
the list of states in the country in terms of corruption.
Fourthly, another long-standing problem of illegals with Sabahans
reduced to strangers in their own land – completely overwhelmed by a
larger population of foreigners in the state. Sabahans have a right to
demand the return to the old days when they can feel safe not only in
the streets and public places, but even in their homes when they could
leave their houses open without fear of becoming victims of rampant
Fifthly, the marginalisation of the Sabahans, particularly the
Kadazan-Dusun-Murut community, depriving them of the full fruits and
benefits of Malaysian citizenship.
In the flurry of “goodies” after the March 8 “political tsunami” to
ensure the allegiance of BN MPs in Sabah in view of their sudden
“kingmaker” role in ensuring the survival of Umno hegemony and Barisan
Nasional government in Putrajaya, among the measures announced by the
Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were the appointment of
a Sabahan to be Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sabah Malaysia and to head
the federal development department.
However, what Sabahans want are not just two “one-off” appointments made
more for their immediate political effect but a systemic change of
mindset where Sabahans are given fair treatment in civil service and
political appointments, both in the state and at the federal level, not
because of any tokenism or “one-off” show effect but because of their
entitlement as full Malaysian citizens.
At the Sabah state level, the Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts (KDM) have been
marginalised to become the new underclass in Sabah and Malaysia – a
point I had stressed in the last Parliament.
All civil service and political offices, including that of Chief
Minister, should be open to all Sabahans regardless of ethnicity or
religion, based on meritocracy, competence or public support.
When for instance was the last time that a Kadazan or Dusun was
appointed the Yang di Pertua Negeri in Sabah?
Similarly, at the federal level, a Sabahan should have an equal right to
be promoted to the highest reaches of the civil service, whether
Secretary-General of Ministries, departmental directors or even Chief
Secretary of Government!
There are three Federal Ministers from Sabah. Sabahans are most unhappy
with their appointments, as one is in charge of museum, another in
charge of the planetarium, while another is in charge of “everything and
Why can’t a Federal Minister from Sabah be entrusted with heavy-weight
portfolios like Education, Defence or even Finance?
These are pointers to a new Malaysia that Sabahans and Malaysians want
from the political changes to emanate from “916”.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor