NGO urges special Sabah assembly sitting to discuss Budget 2023 allocation

KOTA KINABALU: A grassroots movement has called on the Sabah government to hold a special state assembly sitting before Budget 2023 to discuss appropriate development expenditure allocation from the Federal Government.

Ikatan Komuniti Penampang (Ikatan Penampang) said the sitting would allow state assemblymen to come up with a resolution on the proper amount to be allocated to the state.

It said this resolution would allow the state to make a stronger case in the Dewan Rakyat for the benefit of all Sabahans.

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“Ikatan Penampang took note of Sabahans’ frustration when only some RM5bil was allocated to Sabah under Budget 2022,” said Ikatan Penampang associate member Liyana Marzuki in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 13).

She said several Sabah MPs from the ruling government had also openly expressed dissatisfaction with the amount.

She said assemblymen in the state should first find out the urgent development needed in their respective constituencies from the relevant district officers and local authorities.

“And thereafter, present their case to the state assembly during the (special) sitting,” she added.

Sabah was given RM5.2bil in development expenditure in Budget 2022 while Sarawak received RM4.6bil.

This was an increase of RM100mil for each state over the previous year.

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Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had said in tabling the Budget that the allocations were for the building and upgrading of water and electricity supply infrastructure, roads, education and health facilities.

Liyana said following the special sitting, Sabah’s 24 MPs could then deliberate on the resolution in the Dewan Rakyat.

“This will (allow them to be) guided (by) what Sabahans really want,” she said.

Liyana, a legal activist and former deputy public prosecutor, said such a resolution was necessary to prevent Sabah from being exploited for political purposes for the benefit of peninsular voters, more so with the 15th General Election (GE15) around the corner.

She said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economic Affairs) Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohammed told the Dewan Rakyat in July that PETRONAS was set to contribute a dividend of RM59bil to the Federal Government this year.

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“Would it be wrong for Sabahans to request at least 20% to enable the state government to immediately proceed with its programmes to mitigate flooding, poverty and inflation in Sabah?” she asked.

In the case of Penampang, she said, the two problems that required immediate action were traffic congestion and constant flooding due to unregulated development.

“And what about other districts in Sabah, especially those declared as the poorest ones?

“Ikatan Penampang’s concern is that GE15 may see possible unequal distribution of federal funds, derived from taxes and other sources including the said dividend, to appease and benefit peninsular voters.

“(And this is) at the expense of Sabahans in desperate need of rapid development and economic rejuvenation," she added.

Ikatan Penampang chairman Kenneth Jayaraman said there was a need to educate the younger generation in the peninsula on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

This included all preceding documents such as the Inter-Governmental Committee and Cobbold Commission reports, he added.

“This is so that they will know how the Federation of Malaysia came to be and why there are special privileges and rights held by Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

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