Did Muhyiddin Yassin Just Issue a Subtle Threat To Sabahans?

Sabahans still live in squalor as 95 percent of its petroleum revenue is taken away by the federal government.

COMMENT: If what he said was accurate, we have much to worry about.

The leader of a nation has the right to provide advice as its people gear up for a state election (in Sabah).

In that spirit, the prime minister has reportedly urged “Sabahan voters to stick with the parties that hold federal power today”.

Muhyiddin Yassin stressed “Sabah is a poor state (and) the people need an administration that has a close relationship with Putrajaya in order to solve their economic and development woes”.


The PM’s call raises several soul-searching questions that deserve honest answers.

First, when he urges voters to “stick with parties that hold federal power today”, is he not belittling the power to vote democratically? Is this not going against the very constitutional right of a voter who walks to the ballot box?

Second, he has rightly attested “Sabah is a poor state”. The question that begs an honest answer is, why is Sabah poor?

Is it the making of Sabahans themselves that they are still a ‘poor’ state after more than five decades of standing by the federal government?

Third, Muhyiddin’s proposition that Sabahans will need a state government that has a “close relationship with Putrajaya in order to solve their economic and development woes” raises a barrage of questions.

For most of the past 57 years, were not the Sabah state governments aligned to the political parties that wielded federal power in the peninsula? Did Sabahans not give their vote of approval to the Alliance/Barisan-led government for most of this time?

And even more frightening question: is the prime minister saying if the people of Sabah do not vote for the parties aligned to him, they will not have their economic and development woes solved?

If what he, as the leader of the nation, was reported as saying was accurate, we have much to worry about.

* JD Lovrenciear, an Aliran member, is a KL-based writer, trainer and consultant who also offers his time to support initiatives to build a progressive society.