Shafie: Sabah’s our land, but we have to beg to share its wealth

M Fakhrull Halim

Modified 25 Sep 2020, 6:13 am

SABAH POLLS | Sabah is blessed with vast tracts of land and many other resources, but the fruits of that wealth have never been fully enjoyed by the state, said Parti Warisan Sabah president Shafie Apdal.

Citing examples of oil palm revenue tax and oil royalty rate in a speech, he said, sometimes, Sabah seems to have to beg to enjoy its own wealth.

“Sabah is not poor, it is rich. (Settlers in Sabah) planting oil palm, fertilise oil palm and in five years just bear fruit. In Kuala Lumpur, they shake legs but through tax, they get the rewards.

"Those (settlers in Sabah) who plant and do the work in the rain and in the heat have to give Kuala Lumpur tax," he said when speaking in Kunak in South-Western Sabah while campaigning for the Warisan candidate Norazlinah Arif.

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He commented that hundreds of thousands of acres of Sabah land had been given to Felda, but it only benefited only about 1,500 Sabah settlers, while most of this land was managed by Felda Global Ventures (FGV) which is listed on the Stock Exchange.

And now, he said, Sabah is suffering losses in the form of hundreds of millions of debts due to the price of FGV shares which have plummeted.

"Imagine, we have land, but others profit while we lose,” said the caretaker chief minister.

Because of that, he said, when he took over the Sabah administration in 2018, Shafie said he was trying to provide land for the people of Sabah, and, he added, as many as 11,000 grants were available, but only about 6,000 were handed over.

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Similarly, when he recounted how he demanded 20 percent of the oil royalty from Petronas, he was told that such an amount of royalty would cause the oil company to go bankrupt.

“This is Sabah’s oil. Not Kuala Lumpur’s oil.”

In fact, he also criticised some parties who claimed that Sabah would face difficulties without the help of the federal government, while many of the rewards enjoyed by the federal government came from Sabah.

“When I am in BN, we can live. When I oppose BN, suddenly I am told that it will be difficult in Sabah if you do not have a federal government.

“Do they remember that Kuala Lumpur will face difficulties without Sabah?” he said.

For the record, Sabah has received a five per cent royalty since 1976 under the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974.

The 20 per cent royalty for oil-producing states became Pakatan Harapan's manifesto before the last general election and it has always been fought for by Sabah leaders.

With that, Shafie asked the voters to vote for Warisan so that changes can be made and problems that exist throughout the state can be solved, including the problem of basic facilities such as water and electricity.

In his speech, Shafie also assured that he will not discriminate against any race or religion while governing the state.

For example, Shafie said under his administration, Sabah gives two days off for Christmas holidays for Christians, something that is not available in other states and has never been given by previous Christian leaders like Joseph Kitingan.

“If Christians ask for an extra one day, can't I give it so that children can visit their parents?

"I help the church and I help the mosque," he added.

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