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Which candidate for CM can deliver good economic future?
Published on: Sunday, March 04, 2018

By Datuk John Lo

Malaysia has been formed from British ex-colonies to a nation. Naturally, we have adopted the British system of democracy, “The Westminster Model”. Inherent in this model is the party in government vs party in opposition. Confrontation is part and partial of this system.

So is competition for voters’ support. In matured democracies like UK, USA and Australia, political competition is based on distinctive political ideologies with major economic components to give better lives for the people.

Unfortunately, Malaysia, from day one to present day, has failed to adopt any such political ideology.

Use and exploitation of religion and race has continued to dominate increasingly.

Both can be emotional explosives as has happened in a number of countries. Sad but true that we have been entrapped by this model. Getting out of it will take a leader with great vision.

The exploitation of race and religion in Malaysia [more in W Malaysia and creeping into Sabah] has become very bad in ongoing campaign and which, if not brought under control, can tear apart our society.

It seems to me ordinary Malaysians are showing more “political cow sense” than political leaders.

I do not know of any successful country that has used race and religion as its political foundation.

Without a proper political ideological framework, Malaysian leaders have lost focus, spending overtly too much time on personal attacks, childish behaviour, ignoring on relevant economic issues. The whole thing has degenerated into dirty gutter politic.

To avoid this “low class” W Malaysian political behaviour in Sabah, I like to suggest some ideas for Sabahan to select a leader as our chief minister, a Sabahan leader who can be the most effective leader with the best economic leadership.

Selecting the right leader with the correct economic leadership credentials to lead Sabah is first of all the responsibility of all Sabahans. Don’t raise your expectancy if we vote a person who is either ineffective or just ignorant of economic management. Sabahans must vote with discernment and wisdom if we want our state to be No. 1 again in Malaysia, better lives for ourselves and secured economic future for our children and grand-children.

It is not difficult to assess if a leader is useful for us or not if we can search our hearts objectively of our wishes, open our eyes and listen with our ears to those who aspire to Sabah’s highest political office.

What do we want from a good chief minister? First thing is we must accept there is no perfect chief minister for every Sabahan for no one is perfect. However, we still can select the best from the aspiring candidates.

Then what are our expectations? Considering that the poor economic development records since the 1980s and up till recent times, our wish list should consist of [a] sound economic development vision, ability to implement the vision with practical policies, [b] prudent financial management [c] creation of employment and business opportunities, [c] decent credibility to secure foreign and domestic investors, [d] good grasp of business, [d] decent respect and connection from foreign governments.

Does any candidate for chief minister have common sense, economic wisdom and intelligence?

Dozens can be political leaders but not many have common sense. Only a miniscule few have economic wisdom and intelligence. They are rare commodities.

Don’t have to be an economist to possess economic wisdom and intelligence. Lee Kuan Yew was a lawyer.

All that is needed is he talking stuff that will benefit your business, carriers, your wallet and your and your children’s economic future. All the chief minister aspirants have been in politics for many years, have held various political offices and have made numerous statements. Pay notice to especially two aspects, the substance or the lack of it in their statements and check if he is prone to over promising with little prospects of materialisation.

A leader who talks much, too eager to show how good he is, is usually not a performer.

One who does not or cannot offer a clear economic vision cannot provide us with good economic future.

What are their track records? Sabah is littered with many underperforming leaders who have been office for very long time. Sabahans should not be impressed with good speeches, emotional words, use of race and religion but lacking in economic substance. Examine the track records of each and every candidate, starting with his own backyard that is his own constituency. If he has held office for many years and has done little for his constituency, this is a sure sign that he is incapable of looking after the economic interest of all Sabahans.

If he has been a chief minister or a federal minister, what has he done with his budgets which is usually in the billions? How many jobs has he created? How much investment has brought to Sabah? How many new businesses has he created? Is he likely to inspire confidence from investors, both domestic and international?

How has he got his wealth? Having all the above will prove futile if a candidate cannot refrain from “putting his hands in the till” or if he has already done so. What was his profession or business before politics?

What was his wealth? What has he got now after many years in politics? I stress this because there are many so called leaders who have entered politics for selfish, self-enrichment at the expense of the voters.

On economic vision, plan and implementation, prudence in financial management. This is the most important part. For our own economic interest and future, it is absolutely a must for any aspiring candidate for chief minister that he has these items in place and convince Sabahan voters that his is the best and that he has the capacity and experience to implement them.

Why are these important? Two reasons. Firstly, Sabah has been deprived of sound economic leadership for almost 30 years -since Tan Sri Harris left office as CM in 1985 to the time when Tan Sri Musa became CM in 2003.

Recovering a deeply depressed economy, like Sabah has been during this dark period, is arduous, time consuming task and demands total commitment. Above all, it needs a leader with economic astuteness and business acumen.

These are rare attributes among our leaders. Sabahans should, at all cost, prevent our present economy from sliding back into the “black hole” again. Secondly, the choice that we are going to make in GE14 for better or for worse, will last for 5 years. A lot of things can happen during this time. With the right choice, we can build on our present economic foundation, progress to greater heights with economic security The wrong choice may see us regressing back into economic depression.

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