The politics behind Pan Borneo Highway


From outcasts to victims of genocide – that is how Putrajaya made a U-turn on the Rohingya issue before going on to politicise their ordeal.

Now, the government is doing it again – this time to the people of Sabah, by manipulating and exploiting its commitment to upgrade the quality of their lives and bring the much needed development to Sabah in the form of the Pan Borneo Highway project, being implemented in stages in Sabah and Sarawak.

But there is a caveat – the prime minister in return wants a quid pro quo in the form of unwavering support from Sabahans for the Barisan Nasional government that he leads.

The premier recently told the people of Sabah that the highway project was proof that Putrajaya could still afford to implement mega projects which could change the states’ and region’s development landscape to subsequently meet the promise of the BN government.

The RM165 million Pan Borneo Highway Project by-pass in Lahad Datu, scheduled for completion in 2018, started at the Seventh Mile Jalan Silam in Lahad Datu until the Third Mile Jalan Segama, covering a distance of seven kilometres.

The project includes the construction of a new four-lane dual carriageway which will shorten the distance and travel time of residents from Tawau to Sandakan and vice versa, from 17 km to just seven kilometres.

The mega project constructions would involve two-tiered interchanges and a new 32-metre “earthquake proof” bridge across Sungai Sepagaya.

If Putrajaya had the means to bring development to the ‘Land Below the Wind’, why then bully Sabahans into pledging allegiance to BN?

Would an ethical and responsible government blackmail its people into lending supporting, that too when the federal administration has come under fire for corruption and abuse of power?

In case Putrajaya forgets, the onus is not on the rakyat to swear loyalty to a corrupt government. Rather it is the responsibility of the government of the day to ensure it fulfills its promises to the people, with no strings attached.

In the interim should Sabahans refuse to support the BN government, would that be the end of the highway project?

Don’t bully Sabahans into supporting BN

Does the prime minister’s subtle coercion of support from the people of Sabah has to do with the impending general election and the aggressiveness of the opposition parties out to woo voters?

“As long as there is support, the project will definitely proceed and what is the point of supporting breakaway parties? Can they build Pan Borneo? Cannot. They can only confuse and instigate, don’t be trapped, ask yourself.

“You want a government which can draw up a better future, why pick breakaway parties, we have seen Semangat 46 in the past and other parties, PKR is sick but Umno and BN live fresh and upright.

“We don’t want power for the sake of power but we have a big agenda, we have a mission for the people,” Najib was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying.

He went on to say:

“I am here today to show the promise I made to the people, namely, the 1,236 km Pan Borneo Highway Project.

“The first phase of the project, namely, involving 706 km at a cost of RM12.85 billion and there are still phase two and three, meaning the expenditure will be much bigger when the project is completed.”

Yet again, the premier is trying to obfuscate BN’s real agenda of pressuring Sabahans to stay loyal to the party. While the Pan Borneo Highway project has no bearing on breakaway parties, it however has everything to do with the promise made by BN government to the people of Sabah.

A commitment to uplift the socio-eco status of the people of Sabah and development status of the state should be the government’s main priority.

Chastised for politicising the highway project and demanding absolute loyalty from Sabahans is surely not the kind of ‘legacy’ Najib would want, would he?

The Pan Borneo Highway project is poised to be a game changer for Sabah but not so when it comes to denying Sabahans the right to choose the government of their choice. – Berita Daily

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