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COMMENT | How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb in Sabah? The answer is four. One to 'mandor' (supervise) the three deputies. The first deputy's job is to bark orders, the second deputy takes charge of the workers who keep jumping from one employer to another and the third deputy subcontracts the job to a rival company.

Sabah is a land of contradictions. Despite its immense wealth from petroleum deposits, liquified natural gas (LNG), timber, oil palm and minerals, it remains the least developed and poorest country in Malaysia. The next poorest state is Kelantan, which has no appreciable petroleum or LNG reserves.

We know that the oil money for Sabah has gone to build the infrastructure of the semenanjung (peninsula), so why won't Sabah politicians seize back control? Why do they allow Putrajaya to ride roughshod over them?

Just before an election, state or otherwise, Putrajaya will make the usual reconciliatory gestures about honouring the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), and talk about increasing the five percent oil royalty to Sabah. After the elections, the proposed negotiations die a premature death, only to be resuscitated at the next election.

The former Sabah chief minister, Shafie Apdal, alleged that a good percentage of Sabah state land had been annexed by another former chief minister to distribute to his family members and cronies. Vast acreages, which the politicians have not managed to acquire on a long-term lease, are owned by plantation groups or timber barons.

For how long have former chief ministers and their political friends carved-up the country and milked the state dry? When will the locals start recognising the harm that self-serving politicians do and stop re-electing them? Some local politicians probably wield more power and have more opportunities to get-rich-quick than some Putrajaya ministers...

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