The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced yesterday that a high-powered Cabinet sub-committee will be set up to carry out the government’s efforts to eradicate hardcore poverty among all races by 2010.
When Abdullah comes to Sabah next Tuesday (January 29) to launch the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), he should explain to Sabahans what this high-powered committee means to Sabah.
This is because 14 years ago, in its manifesto to capture Sabah state power from PBS, the Barisan Nasional pledged to create a “New Sabah” and promised, among other things, to reduce the poverty level in Sabah from 33 per cent in 1994 to zero in the year 2000.
However, this promise of zero poverty in Sabah by the year 2,000 was never fulfilled. According to the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the incidence of poverty in Sabah in 2004 was the highest of all states in Malaysia at 23 per cent, nowhere near zero incidence and higher than Terengganu (15.4%) and Kelantan (10.6%).
Sabah had also the worst incidence of hard-core poverty in 2004 at 6.5% as compared the next three states with high incidence, i.e. Terengganu 4.4% and Kedah and Kelantan 1.3%.
Now, eight years after its failure to honour its pledge to reduce poverty in Sabah to zero in 2000, the Prime Minister is talking about eradicating hard core poverty by 2010.
When will the Barisan Nasional honour its 1994 Sabah state general election pledge to reduce poverty to zero in the state? Will the Sabah Development Corridor take over the 1994 Barisan Nasional broken pledge to achieve zero poverty rate in Sabah by 2000 with a new deadline for zero poverty in Sabah?
Will Abdullah be able to announce the new date for the reduction of poverty to zero in Sabah when he launches the SDC next Tuesday?
(Media Conference Statement 2 in Tawau on Monday, 21st January 2008)