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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Yong: Tough 2015 but Sabahans showing resilience

The year has been a tough one for Sabah but it has a silver lining in longer term benefits arising from the growing resilience of the people.

Yong-Teck-LeeKOTA KINABALU: All in all, said former Sabah Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee in a New Year message, 2015 has been a tough year for Sabahans but it has a silver lining of longer term benefits arising from the growing resilience of the people.
In an environment of general lawlessness, private armed groups, kidnapping-for-ransom gangs and official corruption, added Yong, the failure of the peace process in the southern Philippines will undoubtedly pose serious challenges for Sabah. “This has been admitted openly by the police.”
“The failure of the Philippines to honour its peace agreement with Bangsamoro, to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law by this year will, as forewarned by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), lead to terrorism and more violence.”
Elsewhere, noted Yong, the “Sabah Claim” was taking centrestage in the Philippines elections campaign. “High profile candidates are openly campaigning for the ‘Sabah Claim’.”
“The election results in May 2016 will have a strong bearing on Sabah’s and Malaysia’s relations with the Philippines.”
In reviewing the year, Yong conceded that the low point for Sabah in 2015 was the tragic beheading of Sarawakian tourist Bernard Then who was kidnapped in Sandakan. “The beheading brings home to Sabahans the reality of gruesome violence that we read about only in international news.”
“The feared ‘perfect storm’, a combination of all the armed groups in the Philippines with hostile intentions towards Sabah, will test our security forces to their limits.”
The Ranau earthquake, though tragic, displayed the heroism of ordinary Sabahans, the mountain guides, and the collective consciousness of Sabahans, continued Yong. “The earthquake has made Sabahans more self-confident, self-reliant and proud of being Sabahans.”
Yong expects the international superpower play on the South China Sea to intensify in the decades to come. “Knowing China’s history, its military might was to prevent any war from breaking out in the first place.”
Hence, he said, the maritime Silk Road concept and the USD60 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are soft strategies of China and can benefit Malaysia. “Depending on how Malaysia protects its sovereign interests, there is a silver lining in the South China Sea issue.”
Closer home, said Yong, Sarawak’s reawakening as a powerful voice for autonomy has energized Sabah’s movement for autonomy.
Similarly, he said, the Johore Sultan’s outspokenness, makes Sabah feel no longer lonely.
Further ashore, in the United Kingdom, said Yong, the victory of the Scottish National Party in defeating both the Labour Party and the ruling Conservative Party, shows Sabah and Malaysia the way forward.
The coming together of Sabah local parties under the Gabungan Sabah (United Sabah Alliance) and the commemoration of Merdeka in Kundasang and Batu Sumpah in Keningau has struck the right chord, claimed Yong. “The people desire to see a united Sabah opposition.”

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