We refer to Richard Ker’s piece on the 20 possible ways Sabah could be different if it never joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963.
Those items included in Ker’s list are the major ones and we unanimously agree with it. Nevertheless, if Sabah did in fact pull out from such an agreement, it would make Sabah a nation on its own and would be open to a great deal of possibilities. As a nation, there are many other ways things could be different for us, and we attempt to add on the list already provided by Ker.
Here’s our thought:
Ker did mention about the explosion of Sabah’s population to 3.54 million largely contributed by the influx of illegal immigrants. In addition to population, if Sabah never join Malaya to form Malaysia, the demography of the nation would not be as skewed today.
Provided that all major races continue its trend of birth rates, Kadazan-Dusun would remain as the majority race at 32%, followed by Chinese at 23% and then Bajau at 13%. This is based on a census in 1960 before Sabah joined Malaysia. Religion-wise, Islam would still be the majority. Today, based on the most recent census in 2010, unfortunately the non-citizen immigrants form the majority race at 27.8%, followed by the kadazan-Dusun at 17.8% and Bajau at 14%.
According to Facts Global Energy, Sabah has about 11 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil in its reserves, representing about 12% and 25% of Malaysia’s gas and oil reserves. Discovery in 2011 of oil offshore of Sabah, estimates the well’s reserves at 227 million barrels of oil equivalent which put Sabah well ahead of other nations in the region in terms of natural resources.
With its oil and gas, logging products, agriculture and other industries, it is no wonder that Sabah was second only to the heavily industrialised Selangor state as the richest state in Malaysia in 1970. Unfortunately, only 5% of the oil and gas products from Sabah was given to the state. Selangor has achieved its developed status 45 years later while Sabah is still battling to get its basic needs such as clean water, basic facilities, electricity and education, altogether making it the poorest vassal state within Malaysia.
If Sabah did not join the federation of Malaysia, there is no doubt that Sabah would have its own national oil & gas company like PETRONAS, we would name it PETROSABAH? We could have our own twin towers in the heart of Kota Kinabalu – gliterring at night to the awe of our visitors. We could even have our own F1 circuit maybe in the vicinity of KK.
If Sabah was a country, we would have our own airline, akin to that of Malaysia Airlines. Before Sabah joined Malaysia, we had Borneo Airways in operation from 1950-1965. It was founded in 1947 as Sabah Airways Limited serving parts of North Borneo at that time. We would fly our national flag up the sky with pride and our Boieng 747 would land in cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam and New York.
4. Radio & Television
Currently we do have our local radio stations but no local television station yet. Within Malaysia we are served with TV programs to the ideal of 22.5 million Malaysians in West Malaysia. They are not bad, however, our voices, our ideal and our preferences never really make it to the national television. If we are a nation on our own, we would have more TV channels, with broadcasters from all races such as KadazanDusun, Bajau, Chinese, Rungus, Murut etc.
5. Labuan would still be part of Sabah
Labuan has an impressive GDP of RM 3.63 billion in 2012 with GDP per capita of RM 39,682 due to its strong manufacturing and service-based economy. By comparison, Sabah has a GDP per capita of mere RM 18,603 lower than that of many third world countries like Botswana. Labuan was ceded to the federation of Malaysia in 1984.
Provided that the same or better economic measures were taken, Sabah as a nation could capitalise the economy of Labuan an incorporate it as part of our prestigious islands. There would be a bridge built between Menumbok to Labuan, so much more reliable and better engineering feats than that of Penang bridge, to the envy of our Malaya neighbour. We could still design Labuan as our tax-free haven.
6. Border Safety
We will have our own modern military unit, no doubt. Sabah Army, Sabah Air Force (SAF), Sabah Navy etc. Our units are made up of Sabahan people who would die to protect our integrity, dignity and border. There is no such thing as ESSCOM who still fail to protect our tourists from being kidnapped.
Our border will never be breached and invaded like what happened in Tanduo due to our modern military facilities, personnel and presence. There won’t be anymore lamentations such as “our border is too long to patrol”. Our military unit will be as modern as can be expected of a decent nation with functioning submarine, strong military assets and facilities.
Education is the epicentre of our nation. Our universities would not be the biggest campus or the most beautiful like our current Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) but rather the most robust and academically prestigious. Two of Singapore’s varsities ranked in top-10 best universities in Asia with its premier university, National University of Singapore crowned as the best university in Asia and ranked No 22 in the world. The question is, why can’t we?
8. We would be a Republic
Yes, Republic of Sabah. We will have a president, but not a monarch. Our nation will be a democratic nation where all races are treated equally and hold the same citizenship. Free-speech and freedom are highly treasured. There will be no one race that dominate the political landscape and act as tuan by virtue of their race and origin.
Our lingua franca is English while all other mother tongues are recognised as national languages that must be protected and preserved. We all work together hand in hand regardless of backgrounds to build our strong nation.
9. Things will be Cheaper
If Sabah did not join Malaysian federation, our port would be much more developed and operational. Countries like China, Japan, Korea, Philippines etc could dock at our port and supply import products. One of the reasons why things are more expensive in Sabah is because we rely heavily on supplies coming through from Peninsular Malaysia and undoubtedly will be more expensive when they reach us.
Remember the differences in magazine prices between peninsula Malaysia and Sabah & Sarawak? When we become a nation of our own, none of that will happen. Prices of goods will not be as expensive because we will import those on our own. Furthermore, our strong currency will give us less of a problem.
10. National Identity
We take great pride in our national identity. When we go abroad, we identify ourselves as Sabahan. We have representatives in the United Nations (UN), ASEAN an so on. Our leaders will speak in international forum. We invite people from all over the world to invest in our nation, those people and professionals with essential skills and expertise to generate our economy; mind you not maids, labourers and illegal immigrants to rig our vote.
Happy Sabah Independence Day!