A King, a Road, and Warisan’s Blunders

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His Majesty the King of Malaysia is set to grace Sabah with his visit next month. Intriguingly, in an unusual yet commendable decision, the monarch has opted for road travel over the more conventional aerial routes often employed by dignitaries. What followed was an expedited initiative to repair the Pan Borneo roads that His Majesty is expected to traverse.

And like clockwork, the opposition, particularly Warisan, seized this as an opportunity to belittle the GRS government, sarcastically urging the King to visit Sabah more often, as this seems to be the only way to spur the GRS government into action. They jested that these activities are solely a face-saving exercise for the GRS government. However, such a reading of the situation not only betrays ignorance but also distorts the truth, and as usual with Warisan, it is all for political mileage.

As I mentioned above, these are Pan Borneo roads which are, federal roads. Therefore, the budget and the responsibility for their upkeep have always been a federal matter. Over the years, bureaucratic delays in the disbursement of allocated funds have contributed to the deterioration of these roads into what locals ruefully dubbed “moon crater roads”.  

In contrast, the GRS government has managed the state roads quite well on a much more limited budget. Warisan should be aware of this, having been at the helm of the Sabah government, even for only half a term. Yet, this knowledge has failed to turn them into right-thinking and rational individuals. Their reflex immediately went into bashing the GRS government mode.

But to expect rational and constructive discourse from Warisan and their ilk may be to expect too much. One must remember that this is a party that has consistently thrived on a diet of deception and political artifice.

This has always seemed to be Warisan’s playbook: make issues go viral, not for the purpose of constructive change, but to gain political advantage. They mix half-truths with falsehoods in their statements with the intention of demonising the government while pretending to champion public concerns. Had their intentions truly been about bettering the lives of Sabah’s citizens, they would have demonstrated it during their time in power. They failed miserably.

One may ask, if what I said is true, why would Warisan and its supporters do that? The answer is simple: fear. If GRS successfully resolves issues like water supply, road quality and high unemployment, Warisan fears it will lose its bargaining chips.

In truth, the oppositions, not just Warisan, must remember that when an issue is politicised, particularly one as pressing as infrastructure, the only casualty is the common good. While GRS is focused on resolving these problems, the oppositions aim for fleeting political victories. This action jeopardises not only the government’s initiatives but also trivialises the genuine concerns of Sabahans.

I think it is high time therefore that the oppositions, along with their supporters, realise the harm they are causing by sabotaging constructive efforts for petty political gains. The King’s visit should serve as an opportunity for unity and progress and not a stage for the oppositions’ political posturing.

May His Majesty’s visit herald not just a momentary pause in our political discourse, but an enduring shift towards a more constructive and united future for all of Sabah. This would be the most fitting tribute we could offer to our King – that the people are united in their commitment to progress and common welfare.

Prem Kitingan is the Keningau GRS deputy youth chief.

Author’s note: This article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the writer, not necessarily those of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah or any affiliated organisations.

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