Penampang May 11, 2012: Opposition parties squared off Wednesday night during Democracy Sabah's (Desah) first debate for the Penampang constituency to single out the best alternative party for Sabah.
The two parties, State Reform Party (Star), represented by its Chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Sabah Democratic Action Party (Sabah DAP), by its State Secretary Dr Edwin Bosi, were first given 20 minutes each to speak, secondly, three party questions to each other and finally, to respond to questions from the floor.
First speaker Jeffrey started his arguments on Star's struggle for Sabahans to regain their rights, freedom from being colonised by the Malayan government and fight for the neglected Malaysia agreement.
"Star is the best because we promote the solution for Sabah.
And we do this through the Borneo Agenda. Star, being a Borneo party, understands the problems faced by the locals and will quickly resolve the problem without referring the matter to Kuala Lumpur," he said to about 400 people who turned up for the debate.
He said Star also has the solution on the Native Customary Rights (NCR) issue through the setting up of a Land Tribunal to resolve land disputes and to resolve future land problems with the formation of a Native Land Foundation.
"This is to ensure the native rights are respected," stressed Jeffrey.
He said Star will introduce a one-country, two-system formula, with one system for the peninsula and another for Sabah and Sarawak to become competitive with the rest of the world.
"This way Sabah can develop into its own mould and not get strapped by policies, solely, to protect the interest of certain people such as the Cabotage Policy.
"The policy has damaged the State by restricting the growth of the local economy," he pointed out.
He said Star offers the best ministerial reforms by upgrading the five residencies into internal states, which "equated to the likes of the states in the peninsula."
He argued that the Keningau district alone could be divided in three states equal to those in the peninsula.
"We want to bring Sabah to its people-state status so that Sabah could regain its equal-state status.
"So that we can move into a new Malaysia. If you restrict the development of Sabah, you will restrict the development of Malaysia," he said.
He said Star is open to discussions with any party to ensure they can also contribute to the development of Sabah.
Jeffrey said Star will also pick 90 per cent of its leaders from among the professionals and qualified youths.
"They can share their ideas on how to develop Sabah if other political parties can agree with our agenda," he said.
Jeffrey also said all the problems in the State have to do with Sabah being controlled by the United Malay National Organisation (Umno).
"We have lost all our rights to collect taxes, develop the State and control of our resources. So we need to free ourselves from these, then we can develop," he said. He said without such rights, Sabahans are just proxies and can't make decisions.
He said Sabah, which he referred to as a country, is a country which had gained its independence but had no executive power.
He said Sabah is actually an equal partner and not "one of 14 (states) but one of three (Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak).
Jeffrey said Sabah has no executive powers to decide but decisions are made by outsiders including those made by foreigners which will be detrimental to the State's future.
He said under the Borneo Agenda, the first move is to restore the Malaysia Agreement which has never been implemented.
"We need to claim back our resources. Sabah has every right to claim its revenue, development and collect taxes as mentioned in Article 11 of the Malaysia Agreement," he said.
He said the Federal Government has collected RM22.7 billion from Sabah and that all of it was given to Kuala Lumpur.
Jeffrey said Sabah has given RM15 billion every year to the Federal Government and that the State only received 5 per cent.
"How did we surrender this oil? By allowing ourselves to be pressured to surrender the oil agreement. Not only we surrendered our oil resources but we also agreed to waive the royalty we are supposed to receive," he said, adding the waiver is giving nothing back to the State.
He said Sabah at the very least should receive 10 per cent every year.
"We are losing RM27 billion each year because we have not fought to regain our royalty meant for us," he added.
For a start, Star will demand 50 per cent of the State's revenue to be banked to Sabah.
He said one of the Borneo Agenda is to call for the abolishment of the Cabotage Policy since it has restricted the State's growth and increased the cost of living in the State.
"Why should Malaya eat first and leave leftovers for us," he argued.
Jeffrey also pointed out during the 2011 national development budget of RM109 billion, the peninsula took RM100 billion while only RM9 billion was allocated to Sabah and Sarawak.
"Compared to the revenue forced out of this country (Sabah) into Kuala Lumpur which I don't know what did they do with the money.
"And we have to beg for the development fund and so we begged for the fund and we get RM1 million and we say Kuala Lumpur is 'bagus' (good), Umno is 'bagus'. Unless we forget it was our own money," he said.
He said next Sabah needs to resolve the Illegal immigrant issue which contributed to the extraordinary growth in population.
Jeffrey said the formation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed to resolve the illegal immigrant issue in the State.
He said one of the Star's agenda is to review the existence of federal agencies in Sabah.
He questioned why federal agencies are being duplicated in Sabah knowing the State has its own sets of ministries, agencies and departments.
Meanwhile, Dr Edwin Bosi started his statements with a joke, saying: "Macam mana mau pigi Star kalau tidak pakai Roket (How are we going to reach the stars if we do not use a rocket?
He said DAP is the first national party to get a foothold in Sabah and Sarawak and embraces moderate socialist ideals but rejects communism and extremism.
Bosi said DAP is the only party which doesn't believe in the Barisan Nasional government and had joined "Gagasan Rakyat" once to promote the two-party system.
"In 2008 in a quiet coalition between Keadilan, PAS and DAP, the party surprised the BN by taking five states in the peninsula including almost all of the Members of Parliament in the Federal Territory and retained Kelantan.
"That was the achievement and because of that 82 seats fell to Pakatan Rakyat and deprived BN for the first time of a two third majority," he said.
He said DAP Sabah recovered from the problems they faced in the 90s and managed to secure one seat in Kota Kinabalu through Dr Hiew King Cheu and an assembly seat in Sri Tanjung.
He said DAP is the second largest party after BN with 29 Members of Parliament and 79 State Assemblymen.
"Social democracy is the way to address the economic, political and social system.
"The basic principles of social democrats are freedom, fairness and justice, solidarity and peace and harmony," Bosi said.
He said DAP is for a Malaysian Malaysia and promises equal rights and opportunities to every citizen regardless of race and religion.
Bosi said DAP is concerned about all the native rights especially the Muruts who have been marginalised and sidelined.
"The party has engaged with the natives and there is a rising exuberance in the party among the natives. Our recent polls by our centre shows there is a 50 per cent support from the natives," he said.
He said all the political parties in Sabah must compromise and learn that multi-cornered fights are futile and will only benefit Umno and Barisan Nasional.
"Sabah's mother of all problems comes from its illegal immigrants.
It first impacted the non-Muslim communities and now the Muslim communities.
"We in Sabah need to take back our State but we are now sharing the State with illegal immigrants," he said.
He said DAP wants to know the reasons why the rise in demographics and the person behind the surge of illegal immigrants in the State through the setting up of the RCI.
"Are we going to bow so low to beg for an RCI and according to our Orange Book we have promised, if we take power in Putrajaya, we will set up the RCI."
"We don't need to wait, it will be given to usif we vote the Pakatan Rakyat in" Bosi promised.
He said the same will be done in the increased in oil royalty, reviewing of the Petronas Act 1974 and the Cabotage Policy.
"We will work on the decentralisation of power. DAP Sabah is mindful of Sabah", he said.
He said the pakatan Rakyat has shown its ability via governments in Penang and Selangor that the simplest budget can be attained by prudent financial management and could eradicate poverty.
Bosi said the State's brain drain will also be stopped and along with it stop the migration of local youths to other places because there are no jobs in the State.
The debate which ended at 11pm was attended by the Desah members including Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Michael Liew, Ong Boon Keong as well as supporters of both parties and the public.
The debate, which appointed Arnold Puyong from UiTM to moderate the debate, was conducted in a cordial atmosphere.
Desah proposed a new candidate debate be held on May 23 in Inanam.