Tuesday, 3 April 2018

‘Mahathir treated Sabah, Sarawak like stepchildren’

April 3, 2018

Sarawak minister says former PM only wanted to 'squeeze' resources from the Borneo states to support his projects in the peninsula.

Sarawak minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah says Sabah and Sarawak have only seen development under Prime Minister Najib Razak.

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has received more flak over his remarks on the slow progress in Sabah and Sarawak, with Sarawak minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah accusing the former prime minister of treating the Borneo states like “stepchildren” throughout his 22 years in power.

Mahathir, who was the country’s longest-serving prime minister, had attributed the slower progress in the two states compared with the peninsula to “greedy” politicians and complacent people.

Speaking to FMT, however, Karim said Mahathir only wanted to “squeeze” resources from the states to support his “mega projects” in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Requests for a good highway linking the two states, more hospitals, better schools and airports, were shot down using the unrealistic reasoning that they weren’t economically viable due to the smaller population and size of both states.”

Instead, Karim said, revenue from Sabah and Sarawak’s resources went towards building infrastructure projects and facilities in Peninsular Malaysia, such as Putrajaya and the Sepang International Circuit, as well as other costly projects which served to enrich only a handful of people.

“Any dissenting voices from Sabah and Sarawak were silenced using draconian laws,” he said.

Karim, who is state tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports minister, said Mahathir’s failure to improve the situation in Sabah and Sarawak caused many youths to leave home to look for jobs in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East.

So, he said, Mahathir’s remarks that the people of the two states needed to work harder was “derogatory” and reflected how much he looked down on Sabah and Sarawak.

“It’s unfortunate for a former prime minister to utter such unkind words. He must remember that it was the sweat of Sabahans and Sarawakians and their resources that helped him build his legacy.”

Karim added that it was only under Prime Minister Najib Razak that the two Borneo states had begun to see some “light at the end of the tunnel”, as Najib was committed to developing Sabah and Sarawak.

“He is unlike Mahathir, under whom Sabah and Sarawak remained among the most underdeveloped states despite the richness of our natural resources.”

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