KOTA KINABALU: In his first visit to Sabah after becoming the seventh prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the state has the potential to grow fast if not hindered by corruption.
The Prime Minister noted that corruption and certain policies had raised the cost of living here.
“The state’s potential is good. But what happened before was that the cost went up because of corruption.
“When you have to divert money for corruption, that is costing the country.
“Sabah is capable of developing very fast and what should be done is to identify which assets can be exploited,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after having a breakfast meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Mohd Apdal before flying home.
His two-day visit coincided with the national-level Malaysia Day celebration.
Dr Mahathir said Sabah, which has an abundance of natural resources as well as land and temperature conducive for agriculture, could supply Malaysia with many of its products.
“The potential for Sabah is very big. But there are certain things which have caused the cost of living here to increase.
“Among them is cabotage and transportation. Maybe the automotive industry could also have its assembly (lines) here,” he said.
Sabah and Sarawak, he added, could have an automotive assembly business which might bring down the cost.
“Industries must come here. And in the future Sabah is going to be the biggest petrochemical producer because the deep-water production will begin soon,” he said.
Dr Mahathir added the Federal Government was aware of the problems faced by Sabah but acknowledged that the state had shown improvement since his visits during the days of Tan Sri Harris Salleh. (Harris was chief minister from 1976 to 1985.)
“The first time I came here in 1965, there were no roads outside Kota Kinabalu.”
He also praised Kota Kinabalu for its cleanliness and observed that much progress had taken place.
He added that there would be a delay to deliver the long-anticipated Pan Borneo Highway due to the Federal Government’s financial constraints.
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