About 100 people attended NGO Democracy Sabah or Desah organised third debate between the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and State Reform Party (Star) Monday evening May 28 at the Grand Borneo Hotel at the 1Borneo Hypermall.
Star’s debater Daniel John Jambun wants autonomy for Sabah with revenue from Sabah largely retained in the state for its own development while SAPP’s debater Eric Majimbun wants a country with two systems whereby Sabah and Sarawak have their own system of self-determining governance and financial freedom from Sabah’s riches.
This debate for the parliamentary constituency of Sepangar moderated by Desah head Simon Sipaun for the first time, featured SAPP veep Eric Majambun and Star veep Daniel John Jambun presenting their views in agreement on poverty in Sabah and what strategy their respective party has to alleviate Sabah’s poverty rate.
Asked on the poor publicity for the debate probably affected the public turnout, Simon Sipaun said, “What is to be done if the mainstream media does not publicise it prominently.”
What was surprising unlike the two earlier Desah debates in Penampang and Tamparuli, the two parties involved did not pack the venue with their supporters although SAPP members outnumbered the others in the crowd.
The positive aspect of it was the absence of booing and heckling which somewhat marred the two earlier debates. This was also because the topic of poverty was not disputed by the two debaters who were in consensus that the BN central government was at fault and they were not competing to show openly that their party was the better choice.
Little was said about the local issues in Sepangar although SAPP’s Eric is expected to defend his MP seat won under a BN mandate when SAPP was still a component of the ruling coalition and Star’s Daniel is not expected to be field as a candidate in the constituency in the coming general election.
Both debaters while acknowledging that Sabah was a resource-rich state, its status of being one of the poorest state in Malaysia was enough damning evidence of the ‘colonisation’ of the once independent country for 16 days before forming the Federation of Malaysia.
Star’s Daniel spoke on how Singapore, a country without any natural resources that once in the federation for about two years, went on its own way and determined its own fate and became a first world city state while Sabah, left in the unequal federation with Sarawak, were exploited and now languishing in high poverty rate.
“Sabah contributed RM40 billion to the federal coffer but only got RM4 billion in return for development,” he said.
He revealed what Star could do to solve the high poverty rate from more down stream development of the oil and gas industry to synergy from other economic activities that the best experts from the world and the United Nations could actualise for Sabah and her people when it achieves autonomy and self-determination.
SAPP’s Eric took the opportunity to announce that his party would release its manifesto in early June while he showed off the leaflets of his party’s Economic Plan for Sabah and Sabah Land Reformation policy that will truly propel Sabah forward.
He revealed that his party wants to issue Sabah identity cards to Sabahans when it forms the state government to differentiate locals from those new immigrants in Sabah given Malaysian citizenship by the federal government’s National Registration Department.
Eric urged that SAPP being a Sabah based political party be given the majority of the 60 state constituencies to contest one to one against the BN in the coming general election as the party is willing to compromise with the other opposition parties especially from West Malaysia to allow them to vie for most of the 25 parliamentary constituencies against the BN.
Star’s Daniel revealed that his party had agreed with the local Usno party to contest all 60 seats and 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah in the next general election under the Star symbol. He hoped that SAPP could be with them to contest either under the Star symbol or under its own SAPP logo in an electoral pact of Sabah based parties.
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