Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Of Federal Neglect And Timber Towkays

Hantu Laut

Lim Kit Siang wrote "2013 in three years’ time mark Sabah’s 50th anniversary in the formation of Malaysia. It is appropriate in preparing for the occasion to seriously assess whether the dreams of Sabahans and Sarawakians in 1963 to form Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed." In other words should we stay in Malaysia?

Is Kit Siang suggesting that we should consider cessation from the Federation if we are not happy with how we have been treated all these years and to seriously assess whether our dreams to form Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed or have we been given full citizenship rights? Is he suggesting that we have been cheated by the West Malaysians in general and Federal leaders in particular.

I do agree with Kit Siang that Sabah have been lagging behind other states in Malaysia due to neglect, corruptions and ineptitude of its leaders to deal with Federal leaders who wore superiority tags on their sleeves. Sabah development was also much hindered by bureaucratic red tape at the Federal level.Where Federal funded projects are concerned concept and design are done from the chairs in Kuala Lumpur without taking into consideration the local conditions and local sentiments.If anything can go wrong, it will.

A good example of Murphy's Law is the design of flyovers in Kota Kinabalu.It is a telling sign of the arrogance and irresponsibility of the Federal civil servants.It's like being given half-cooked food to eat.Sabah only deserved half a flyover and half of everything else.Like everything else all Federal projects get the same half-dosage treatment.

Try visit the KK Court House and you be amazed what a maze you are in.It has the worst interior design in the universe looking more like a maze rather than a court house.The same goes with the new mini Putrajaya.It's look beautiful on the outside but inside is a grim reminder of a dysfunctional building.

Approved projects are often slowed down by funding that comes in trickles, half-opened tap, distrusting Sabahans to handle Federal funds.The health care system, like everything else that has a Federal label on it, is not caring enough to the health of Sabahans.There was no forward planning.It's ad hoc and hocus pocus.

The Federal government can only see five years ahead, that's why they have what they called the 'Five-Year Plan'.Should have been named the 'Myopic Five Year Plan.' Five years in the 'Stone Age' may be a long time but five years in the 'Jet Age' is as fast as the blink of an eye.

Sabah has this thing called political jinx.From the days of Chief Minister Tun Mustapha Harun the raping of
Sabah natural resources has not ceased.It was the start of a long series of timber politics and the rapes of Sabah forests and her other resources by greedy politicians and their cronies.

Mustapha was running wild and running his own fiefdom using Sabah's rich timber resources to finance his prodigal lifestyle.He was the only Malaysian leader who had the use of personal jet paid for by the state.Even the then Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman didn't have one. Sabah was rich.Kota Kinabalu has more Mercs on the roads than Kuala Lumpur then.

Timber politics continued under Berjaya. Harris was seen as a saviour that saved Sabah from the excesses of Mustapha.The increased economic activities during his time did not stop corruptions either.Under Harris, Sabah prospered a little and was the epitome of multiracial politics.That didn't last long either.The sacking of Joseph Pairin from the cabinet that culminated in massive losses suffered by Harris and his other party candidates in state elections put an end to multiracial politics in Sabah.

Under Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the entire state fell into disrepair, prolonged economic inactivity almost bankrupted the state.It was a government that spent more time drinking themselves to death rather than working to develop the state.The state lost most of its arable land during this period.Vast tract of lands were given to cronies which were later sold to plantation companies from West Malaysia.Most of the big oil palm plantations in Sabah are owned by West Malaysian companies.Nothing wrong with that if they plough back some of the profits to other investments in Sabah.They didn't.All profits are kept for the benefits of the shareholders.Very little of those money came back to Sabah.

Kit Siang asked how come the richest state can be reduced to become the poorest state in Malaysia?

Kit Siang should also ask the timber towkays of Sabah of the early days and the politicians that have been hand in glove with them not only to rape the forests but also allowed those crooked businessmen to under declare prices and cheat on payment of royalties.One of the biggest operator at that time reputedly can, out of every 10 shipments, avoided paying royalties on at least 5 shipments.We are talking million of ringgit of lost revenue every month.It was estimated that the state lost between RM200/300 million a year to crooked timber towkays.

One of the greatest injustices done to Sabah's economy were done by the timber towkays of Sabah who parked most of their money in
Hong Kong by under declaring prices and under paying royalties.Asked them about the millions they kept in Hong Kong during their timber heydays.Ask how much have they reinvested in Sabah?Ask those corrupt forestry officers how much timber royalties were lost through cheating, corruptions and collaboration involving them and the towkays.

Through hard work, deception and crooked ways many have become filthy rich and some have died of old age and handed over their wealth to their children.

So, it is not just the Federal government to be blamed, Sabahans themselves have inflicted serious injury to the state economic health by their greed and dishonesty

For Kit Siang, if he didn't already know, we are better off in Malaysia than being swallowed by Indonesia or the Philippines which was what the British feared would happen if we were left on our own.


donplaypuks® said...

So, how would you suggest the problem be tackled and true progess achieved?

More of UMNO/BN leadership and management to allow the plunder to continue with 12 unnecessary dams, 3 aluminium smelter projects and more logging?

We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

eddy said...

1. An eye opening post Bro, so long as the Timber Towkays have money to spread around and the authorithies entrusted to guard the timber treasure of Sabah happily help them to under declare the goods, then this problem would not go away even with any change of Government. Even Lim Kit Siang knows this.

Maybe the Government needs to up the sentence for under declaration of logging product and make it an offence with mandatory caning and minimum 10 years sentence and their assets confiscated much like the laws against drug traffickers. That would scare both parties, the greedy Timber Towkays and the conniving forestry authorithies a wee bit. I do not think this is unreasonable as you are talking about billions of lost revenues here which could be put to good use for the rakyat.

2. dpp, maybe you want to check your "plunder" comment as this post is about Sabah and the 12 dams you mentioned plus the Bakun Dam are planned for Sarawak for the states's planned electricity needs until 2020, read here: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jkL2Jct-JgwY0dsv8xtEw1oy3Ewg

Perhaps what the rural folks in the interior of Sarawak and Sabah really need is community based micro hydro electric projects which are probably a lot less cheaper and make use of the natural terrain and rain water found in abundance in both the big states; read here:

Anonymous said...

if singapore could be independent and successful without any resources, why not others?

eddy said...

Anon9:36pm, City states like Singapore, like Macau, like Monte Carlo, like Hong Kong even the Vatican has always been successful and independent.

Singapore notably have been successful because of their strategic trading/port position and the fantastic infrastructure put in place for administration and financial control by the former British Empire Colonialist since the arrival of Stamford Raffles in 1819 almost 200 years ago.

Also many friendly citizens of neigboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma etc love to keep their massive money savings/laundering in Singapore and Hong Kong...money which have been put to good use by the respective Government of Hong Kong and especially Singapore.

Of course despite the trumpeting by the PAP Government the citizens of Singapore are very hard working and spend less time in politicking or politicising issues, that is really what made Singapore tick until now.

dave said...

Anonymous on March 23, 2010 9:36 PM

agree that Singapore has no resources what so ever..but they have one thing that they can count on -strategic location as a trading port....they successfully capitalize this advantages to the max & the result as we seen today...

Hantu Laut said...


I write a story why would I offer suggestions.

My only wish is that Najib will make an effort to reduce corruptions.

Mike Tan said...

Eddy and Dave,
Who r the brains to help the little red dot continue to excel?
The pendatangs from Moolasia.If u not already know,30% Singapore's
uni lecturers and 30% of medical specialists r Malaysian.Many CEOs
of coporations and GLCs r Malaysians.

Hope Najib to reduce corruption? Dream on.Malaysia's corruption index will continue to fall and our degrees from public unis will
be the worth of toilet papers with our flip flop education policy.

Unless we bite the bullet and carry out real reform we r going to join the failed states.

Forget the "Hujan emas dinegeri orang lelih baik hujan batu di negari sendiri" thing.Proverb will not bring us progress,proper management and hard work will,like Singapore is doing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sabah & Sarawak should cede from Malaysia and join up with S'pore to form a truly multi racial Country?

Purple Haze said...

Hantu Laut,

I don't wish that Najib will make an effort to reduce corruption.

Anyone can make the effort. Its the getting it done which is relevant.

And more importantly, get it done now for the sake of future Malaysian generations.

Anonymous said...

HL what you said about the timber industry is too general.
1. Timber industry for what it was worth is now on the edge of sinking into oblivion. There really isn't much forest left in Sabah nowadays. Most of the plywood factories are about to die too with the current policy changes in Sabah dealing with supply of raw timber.
2. It was very true that all timber tycoons stole from the Forestry Department or Yayasan Sabah. Much of that money was moved to Hong Kong and not Singapore due to HK's proximity to Sabah.
3. Sabah's main industry has always been associated with natural resources be it rubber, cocoa, timber, oil palms, fishery, etc. The sad fact is that every Sabahan has to depend on agriculture or aquaculture for food on the table. Without the forest gangbang, much of Tawau, Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu would still be swamps or thick bushes. Without the oil palm industry, the Sabah economy will immediately collapse.
4. During the boom of the timber industry, the Sabah government actually encouraged people to retain the cleared land for agriculture. Many simply ignored the land and consequently lost all rights to the land. Some did retain the land and subsequently made it big when the palm oil industry came around.
5. Many of those timber tycoons are still in Sabah, keeping much of their money here. In fact, much of the economic activity we see in Sabah currently is associated with these tycoons.
6. It is simply wrong to call people names and blame them for all the ills in the society. It is too easy to sit on a high pedestal and hurl insults at people as if one had the moral authority to do so. The fact is that people did what they did because the system allowed it. Back then, nobody had any conscience. Whatever conscience was left got overcome quickly by fear and greed. If Datuk forestry was such a saint, he could have fought against his superiors and the Sarawakian gangsters and he would have disappeared before we even knew it. He is here today because he yielded then.
7. I'd heard so many timber stories and I have yet to meet anyone who would not wish to make it big that way.