Sabah’s ‘Great Depression’

The decision by the Government Employees Co-operative Society Berhad (Kopeks) recently to settle debts owed by its members to Ah Longs to the hefty tune of RM500,000 made one wonder if Kopeks is not actually encouraging its members to go into debt, because it could easily bail them out anytime when the situation becomes critical. The bailout was a precedent that set a bad example of co-operative fund management.

It also reminded us how bad the economic situation in the Sabah is right now. If government servants can go into serious debt in spite of earning salaries, imagine the situation for those without jobs, and those in the rural areas who have to live off the land just to keep body and soul together. In this period of high inflation even those with salaries are in fact living below the poverty line.

If we still need to be convinced about the dire situation the people are facing just let’s note that the recent job fair organized by the BN got a surprising response of 30,000! And these only involved those who could afford to come. Many didn’t even bother to come because they knew it was not worth the effort and cost to go. Part of the reasons for state’s poverty is the high unemployment among the young school levers and graduates. Many graduates actually survive by opening and operating kueh stalls, even taking on odd jobs. So the repeated advice to youths to not be choosy with jobs is actually a lot of nonsense knowing these young people, out of sheer desperation, are even going by the tens of thousands to Kuala Lumpur, Johore and Singapore to earn money.  High unemployment in Sabah has also caused the existence of sandwich families, which the government has admitted to be very high in number. The term “sandwich family” can be defined, from my own observation, as the case of parents who have to house and feed their children who are already married and have their own children because of joblessness. Many families are not even having any celebration when their children get married because of they are so cash-strapped!

There is an ongoing, hidden depression going on in Sabah. They have suffered so long but have partly resigned to their fate knowing they is nothing they can do. The government has simply failed them. A fifty-ringgit note doesn’t last very long, doesn’t buy a lot these days. People have very little saving and for those who struggle to make ends meet, the money runs out long before payday. What is more depressing is that we all know the government has not an iota of plan to solve the problem; all so-called anti-poverty actions are just ad-hoc programs. Solve this and this, and wait for the next one to surface! The government is confused because it doesn’t have the financial capability to solve the problem and it doesn’t understand all the factors affecting the economy, globally or locally. So they have become experts in coming up with lame explanations and playing the blame game, like they blame youths for being unemployed because “they are choosy.” What a load of nonsense!


Patriotism? Or just plain poverty?

So in desperation, the people who need to settle their financial problems have to resort to Ah Longs, or loan sharks. And loan sharks come to the fill up the market because there is a huge need for their service. A profusion of loan sharks, the rise of MLMs, get-rich-quick schemes and gambling businesses are a clear indication of serious economic problem in any country. People need a way out to escape financial pitfalls and hope to fulfill their dreams by buying lottery tickets as a way to comfort their troubled souls. The latest way to become rich overnight today is to find the tokek lizard and make millions overnight!

I would challenge the BN government to undertake a statistical survey of the situation and give us the accurate figures for unemployed secondary school leavers and graduates, the number of sandwich families and the grand total of amounts they spend from their parents’ income, the number of Sabahans who are working in the Peninsular and Singapore, and most importantly to give an economic blueprint for Sabah to solve unemployment and poverty in the short term. Or is the government itself is too cash-strapped to undertake these surveys? How much does it cost to pay IDS to do them compared to providing for some road buildings in which the cost are doubles of tripled for the benefit of some political bosses? How much money has been stashed overseas, robbing us of economic trickle-down effects? We can only imagine the terrible losses we have suffered and our children will suffer in the future because of our government’s corruption and mismanagement!

What future do these little Sabahans have left?

Daniel John Jambun is the President of CigMa (Common Interest Group Malaysia), an ad hoc apolitical human rights movement in Sabah.

Posted on 14 August 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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2 Responses to Sabah’s ‘Great Depression’

  1. Anon

    U guys should do a site visit to the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak. Document their poor life and their woes and come up with a documentary ala Michael Moore. Spread the video all over the web. Let this be the precedent. If anyone who has the vision, the know-how and the experience, it would be the lawyers, you guys who can pull this off. Maybe get Namewee and other free-spirited artist who can follow you guys and act as producers for this film.

  2. najib manaukau

    These deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras do not want you to be illiterate enough to think rationally and cast your vote to the right person. They just want the poor to remain poor and the illiterates to remain illiterates so that they will be desperate enough to sell their votes to them when an election comes along. At least that will solve some of their immediate problems !
    The truth is they just want to remain in power.
    Otherwise why do you think after so many decades of independence the deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras are still unable to eradicate poverty and illiteratecy in the country while these Umnoputra are getting richer and richer by the day. This is especially so with the grand son of the untouchable pariah shenanigan Mahathir and his millionaire children. Before the shenanigan became the P.M. he and his wife were just country doctors just making ends meet and also had sufficient time to write book. Look at him and his millionaire children now (they did not make the millions from their business acumen), not to mention the hidden billions he has stored abroad.
    That is the reason why without failed he is traveling to London, on transit,yearly to the country where his ill gotten billions are and to audit his 'investments'.
    Malaysia or should I say these Umnoputras for years now are endeavoring to lure the immigrated Malaysians to return to serve the country with added financial incentives when for some years now, under different disguises, they have tried and sad to say with very little success. Now in their desperation these deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras are tempting the ex Malaysian non Malays professionals, who were called as Pendatang, to return to serve Malaysia with more financial incentives even for just five years since they are unable to lure them to return for good. Once beaten twice shy they are !
    These deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras must be very very desperate now, at least enough for them to forget that they are the very ones to have called for these ex Malaysian non Malays pendatang to return to their ancestral homes when they were still in Malaysia.
    I wonder why these deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras are not turning to the hundred of thousands NEP assisted students for help ? There must be hundred of thousands of professionals by now and there must be a surplus of these Bumiputra professionals by now after 43 years since NEP was implemented in 1969. Or have they all been sent away for their 'holiday' in the name of education and return to Malaysia with half cooked professions or no professions. At best the very small number of them who had got their professions too have immigrated abroad for better prospects ?
    What will Malaysia be in time years to come, especially when the black gold runs out ? TheY don't have the trillions of rinngit, Singapore has in their reserve, but still has jobless people like Rocky and his lackeys writing seditious articles around !