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COMMENT | Today marks the 40th anniversary when Labuan became a federal territory. Unfortunately, it is not a day of celebration.

The operative sentiment is one of disappointment, as there is a sense that Labuan has suffered from repeated patterns of political mismanagement and neglect.

Like Langkawi, when ambitious dreams were laid out for development during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as prime minister, these have yet to materialize as promised.

Labuan’s 40th anniversary is a window to bring to the fore concerns and stimulate discussion that can improve the situation.

Sadly, to date, Federal Territories Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa (of discount Najib’s prison term infamy) has replicated the pattern of the past - a politician from Peninsular Malaysia failing to understand conditions on the ground and unwilling to extend political will to address long-standing challenges.

In her four-month tenure as minister, she had made three (very) short trips to Labuan, largely aimed at pacifying growing grievances about harmful policies and her government’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful structural and economic reforms.

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