Former chief minister, Yong Teck Lee, said he is disappointed with the 2012 budget as once again Sabah is being treated as the poor cousin.He said Sabah is considered the poorest state in Malaysia but Najib’s budget is only pandering to sectors where Barisan Nasional is likely to get votes.The leader of the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) said it was clear that the RM232.8 billion budget is solely aimed at pleasing civil servants, teachers, Felda settlers, military and police personnel and the Indian community ahead of snap general elections.
“These are the voting groups that the BN is now trying to improve upon compared to the results of the last general elections in 2008,” he said.
Yong noted that missing from the budget was allocation for the 300MW natural gas-powered electricity generation plant in Lahad Datu to power-up the electricity-starved east coast of the state. The plant was supposed to replace the cancelled coal-fired plant.
Another disappointment for Sabah is the silence on plans to upgrade the Sandakan airport to international standards as promised by the Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman last year.
“The proposed Sandakan airport upgrading is now confirmed to be another empty promise of the BN government,” said Yong adding that in the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), there was no mention of such plans for Sandakan and Sabahans had expected the 2012 budget to address this.
The business community in the state will also be disappointed that the Prime Minister made no mention of any review of the cabotage policy that has been blamed for the higher prices of goods in Sabah compared to the peninsula.
“The cabotage policy to protect a few shipping companies will continue to plague the manufacturing sector in Sabah.
“The BN continues to ignore Sabah’s key concerns because Sabah is considered a ‘fixed deposit’ for the BN,” said Yong.
Yong also regretted that the new budget has missed out on the urgent need for a comprehensive manpower policy to tackle the over dependence on the two million foreign workers in the country, the wage structure and unemployment.
“The high expectations of the 2012 budget have turned into disappointments for Sabah.” he said .