By : DR NICHOLAS JAMES GUNTOBON
THE INTERIOR of Sabah had received little 'real' development last year, despite big talk by certain ruling Barisan Nasional leaders here.
The past 17 years that UMNO had come to Sabah, nothing much that we could be proud of had exceptionally been built or 'developed' in the Interior which encompasses the bigger lower part of Sabah inland.
Infrastructures remain to be at the very basic-need issue such as longing for clean water supply, decent housing, electricity supply, better and more roads, better schools and clinics and hospitals. The number of poor families continue to be very high in Interior, and this is compounded by lack of job opportunities as industry is almost absent.
After 48 years of independence, our people are still living without the most basic infrastructures ! Is this the kind of 'development' that these BN leaders from Interior are so proud of accomplishing? Some of them had been YB for more about 30 years, but still want to be around by hook or crook despite their glaring failures. This time the people must audit these leaders and teach them a lesson.
What certain BN leaders shout as their big accomplishment is nothing more than 'a below-average' performance by any assemblyman or parliamentarian that are given millions of ringgits to spend annually to develop their areas.
They also have direct access to more development funds, including Federal funding, but they failed to use these funds for the grassroots. They thought they achieved a lot for the people when in fact they just 'SYOK SENDIRI'.
Our Interior youths continue to migrate to the Peninsular to seek menial jobs at small factories and the service sectors. Sadly many of them became victim of syndicate, and it is reported that youths from the Interior especially from Keningau, are among the highest number of youths who fell victims in Peninsular.
If there is job opportunities being open up by Government-linked agencies in the Interior it is in the plantation sector which most of the time go to foreign workers anyway.
In Sook, villagers are complaining that despite water pipelines had been laid for quite sometime, there is still no water supply. The kampung roads are also as bad as in 1970s in most areas. But companies with links are encroaching and threatening the livelihood of villagers.
Our sealed roads are good only for 20 tonne load, but heavy vehicles including lorries still ply these roads, destroying the good roads only weeks after there are built. Is it a coincidence? so that favoured contractors continue to get works to "maintain" these roads? If true, this is like a day-light robbery !
Some reports say that sealed roads in Peninsular are now in excess of 20,000 km, but in Sabah which is more than half the size of Peninsular, only about 3,000 km of roads so far are sealed. Where is justice in development?
STAR is asking the people to ponder on these facts ahead of the impending general election which might be called anytime soon.
(NOTE : Dr Nicholas James Guntobon is The Deputy Chairman, STAR's Sabah Chapter is among the three who are appointed Deputy to Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. The other two are Awang Ahmad Sah Awang Sahari and Daniel John Jambun).