Unfair policies make Sabah poor
Palm oil export via Peninsular ports causes. State to lose RM300 mm revenues a year, says Tham
It is high time for the Federal Government to review some of the current policies that are extremely unfair and impoverishing Sabah. This includes the present requirement for Sabah to export its major changes in the demand and commodities such as cocoa and palm oil through ports in Peninsular Malaysia besides paying higher prices for consumer goods, said’ Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) State Science Adviser Datuk Tham Nyip Shen. He said the State is currently estimated to be losing about RM300 million in revenues from palm oil export of an estimated six assumed the million tons per annum, based on the current market price of between RM40 and RM50 per ton. “ With such an unfair policy, how can we not be poor?” Speaking to reporters yesterday, Tham pointed out that the revenues that are lost are enough to increase the development fund for each MP in the State to RM3 million for them to help improve facilities in their constituencies. While welcoming the recent statement made by Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahir Ahmad that consumers in the country can expect major changes in the demand and supply mechanism, including the scrapping of price in control on essential goods, he reiterated his previous call to implement a ‘uniform pricing policy’ for goods across the nation in order to be fair to the people of Sabah and Sarawak. Tham, who is a former Deputy Chief Minister, said : “ When Datuk Shahrir assumed the post of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, he made a few interesting announcements and this certainly gives new hope to Malaysians, Sabahans included. This, I say syabas! ( well done) to Datuk Shahrir. But, I am particularly keen to pursue an old topic – uniform national pricing policy acroos the nation. It is never the fault of Sabahans and Sarawakians that we are being separated by the largest sea in the world – the South China Sea. “Unfortunately, we are severely punished as a result i.e. paying a higher price of between 20% — 50% for consumer goods.” He cited the case of America, which is about 28 times larger than the size of Malaysia, to further illustrate his point. “To put it in perspective, travelling from the east to west of the United States of America requires five hours compared to just 2+ hours in Ma1aysia,he said. “Yet, there is no price differences in most items between New York and Los Angeles when they are 2,462 miles apart compared to that of only 1,000 miles between Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. “I can quote a few other countries having no price difference. In Malaysia, even national newspapers are more expensive in Sabah, compared to Kuala Lumpur.” Tham said the renewal of his call for a ‘uniform pricing policy’ is timely, especially when the people of Sabah and Sarawak have given so much support to the BN Government. “Sabah is still being recognized as the poorest State in Malaysia, we are not asking for special privileges, what we want is not much, we just want a fair price, the same price that a Malaysian should pay! We hope to live like a Malaysian,” he said. “I am confident that something positive can be done to give fair treatment to Malaysians residing in Sabah. I would also like to reiterate my call for the Federal Government to equal the export price of commodities from Sabah too. “Without a fair treatment and a level playing field, Malaysians in Sabah would always be at the losing end and perhaps it is also part of the reasons why today Sabah is still being widely recognized as the poorest State in Malaysia. Why must we suffer all these injustices?” Tham also expressed utmost regret that Shahrir’s predecessor, Datuk Shafie Apdal who hails from Sabah had failed to champion such a pressing cause when he was in position to do so.