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‘Sabah is on the right track to success’

Former Sabah Chief Minister Salleh Said Keruak believes that the
state has progressed by leaps and bounds since Independence.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah State Assembly Speaker, Salleh Said Keruak, firmly believes that Sabah and Malaysia are on the right track to achieving state and national targets.

To him both state and nation have already seen tremendous developments.

But he was just as quick to point out that there was still much more that could be done to meet the desires of Sabahans in general.

“Yes, we are on the right track to achieving targets. Sabah has progressed by leaps and bounds since independence.

“We have better infrastructure now, and both the state and federal governments are accelerating the pace of development.

“I think we are on the right track but complacency is a challenge to more achievements,” said the state Umno deputy chairman.

He hailed Chief Minister Musa Aman for his administration’s good working relationship with their federal counterparts under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

“Look at the federal allocations for Sabah and Sarawak ..they are getting a bigger chunk of the federal fund. No one can deny this,” he said.

According to Salleh, the per capita income in the state has also increased and lifestyles have improved.

“Per capita income is increasing. I would like to see more developments coming directly (to the state) so it is felt by the ordinary people like fishermen, farmers, blue collar workers.

“But the most important thing is we enjoy a peaceful and harmonious state that continues to progress at rapid pace,” he said.

The former chief minister was also of the opinion that in order to bring developments to the state, its leadership cannot afford to have “problems” in federal-state relationship.

Whoever forms the state government must work with the one at the federal level, whoever they maybe. That is his message.

“Skirmishes between Sabah (during PBS’ time) with the federal government caused a lot of problems to the state and the people and development was slowed,” said Salleh.

Perennial problems

He said leaders must bear in mind they are elected to public office to serve the people and the nation.

Touching on the problems in Sabah, like allegations of land-grabs and the presence of illegal immigrants, Salleh said both problems needed to be resolved by the current leadership.

“There is no denying there is more interests in land development now, be it for agriculture or property… of course land-related issues crop up here and there just like in other developing countries, and the government is working to resolve these cases amicably.

“Some go to courts, and the natives win, and that is good because it shows that the people can get justice from Malaysian courts.

“If it is their right, they have it,” he said, explaining that Musa had introduced communal titles to natives, partly to ensure they keep their land and not sell it.

“These titles are to ensure native lands will not be passed over to anyone other than his or her own off-springs. Otherwise they may be sold for quick money as is happening in many districts,” he said.

He said the issue of the illegal immigrants is being resolved by the federal government via various regulations and regularisations.

“We need foreigners to work in sectors like construction and plantations in Sabah. The problem here is that some of them came in illegally and some over-stayed their visa.

“These people refused to go back to their countries (Philippines and Indonesia) as life in Sabah is better.

“This scenario is the plus point that Sabahans must really look into… actually we can do it right here,” he said.

His personal aspirations, Salleh said, was to see Sabah become stronger economically, politically and culturally and staying within the federation.

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