KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans are hoping that the newly-appointed Federal Ministers from the state will see that terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) are fulfilled.
Political commentator Oh Ei Sun said the two Cabinet posts given to Sabah – Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister, and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Sabah and Sarawak matters – should mean better days ahead.
“In general we are talking about more development funding, implementation and mechanisms to prevent the funds from being siphoned, now that we have a reformist Federal Government,” he said when contacted on Sunday (Dec 4).
He said Sabah is the poorest state in the country despite its abundant resources.
“It is hoped that more funding could be channelled back to Sabah for much-needed infrastructure development,” he said.
Newly-elected Penampang MP, Kadamaian assemblyman and incoming Upko president Datuk Ewon Benedick, 39, was given the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives portfolio.
Papar MP Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali, 45, of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), will be in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs.
Activist and Sabah Youth Entrepreneur Association president Azizul Julirin said the role of Sabah as an equal partner in the federation of Malaysia must be translated accordingly, not just as one of the 13 states in the country.
The 34-year-old hoped Armizan would take advantage of his position by seeing that Sabah received its fair share of development funds and equal power sharing with its counterparts in the peninsula.
He said Sabah was still lagging in various aspects including basic infrastructure, education, human capital development and economy.
He also hoped Benedick would work towards securing a quota for Sabah when it comes to grant and sponsorship opportunities for entrepreneurship programmes.
“He must ensure that there are committed stakeholders to carry out grassroots and field entrepreneurship programmes locally so that the target groups are addressed, and the vision and objectives are achieved,” he added.
Social media personality and former journalist Amy Dangin said while having two ministers in the Federal Government was good, Sabah still needed autonomy over core matters like education and immigration laws.
The 37-year-old mother of four hoped that Armizan and Benedick would take full advantage of their positions.
“An entrepreneurial post means we expect better entrepreneurial opportunities for Sabah, but also as a Penampang MP, we hope Benedick can find ways to combine these opportunities with flood-solving ideas,” she said.
“As for Armizan, I’m guessing it means he will get ample opportunities to inform the PM on the issues in Sabah that need attention or more budget,” said Dangin.
She also believed that getting only two ministerial positions was reflective of how divided Sabah is when it comes to politics, something that needed fixing as soon as possible.
“I think one of the core issues we still face is racism (strong sentiments against undocumented immigrants) and economic struggles that lead to other important issues like health and education accessibility,” she said.