Many legitimate questions have been raised about the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) to be launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Sepanggar Bay container port, 35 km from Kota Kinabalu, next Tuesday, including:
• Why the SDC is the last “corridor” to be announced and launched by the Prime Minister when it should be the first as Sabah has the worst poverty rate in the whole country.
• How the SDC will eradicate poverty in Sabah, which is the worst of all states in the country, with an incidence of poverty of 23% in 2004, much higher than the two other poverty-stricken states of Terengganu (15.4%) and Kelantan (10.6%). Sabah has also the worst hard-core poverty rate at 6.5% as compared to the next three states with the highest incidence, i.e. Terengganu 4.4% and Kedah and Kelantan 1.3%.
• How the SDC will end the long-standing socio-economic marginalization of the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) community as the new underclass in Sabah.
• Whether it is possible for Malaysia to implement five “development corridors” simultaneously or is the “corridor” concept more hype than reality.
A poster raised a pertinent question on my blog on the SDC when he said the Barisan Nasional is “simply trying to hoodwink the rakyat into throwing support for the BN”.
He said that declaring a “corridor” would usually mean that such a “corridor” or region is the focus of intensive development efforts. However the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman has announced that the SDC will cover the whole state of Sabah and not just confined to certain areas – making nonsense of the “corridor” concept!
As this poster asked – “Corridors lead from one room to another. Can your entire house be all corridors?”
However, there is an even greater concern about the SDC, whether it will just end up as a “corridor for corruption” in Sabah.
When Abdullah became Prime Minister four years ago, he pledged to clean up graft and corruption in the country. This, however, had been one of the greatest failures of the Abdullah premiership, which is reflected by Malaysia’s worsening position in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from No. 37 in 2003 to 43 in 2007.
Corruption in Malaysia has become more rampant and blatant in the past four years with Sabah leading all the other states not only in having the worst poverty rate but also the most serious corruption problem.
Instead of a clean-up of corruption in the state, Sabahans talk about a “Mr. Vaccuum Cleaner” who plunges Sabah into as new dark age in corruption.
When he comes to Sabah next Tuesday, Abdullah should announce concrete safeguards to assure Sabahans and Malaysians that the SDC will not end up as a “corridor for mega corruption” in Sabah
(Speech at DAP ceramah in Tawau on Monday, 21st January 2008 at 9 pm)