KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has unveiled plans to be put in place to help the people of Sabah who have been affected economically by COVID-19, provided the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition comes into power.
Mr Muhyiddin was speaking on Wednesday (Sep 16) at the launch of the GRS coalition manifesto ahead of the Sabah state election on Sep 26.
The coalition is a state opposition alliance made up of Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and other state-based parties. GRS will be up against two other political forces – the incumbent Warisan+ alliance and the indigenous Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS).
Speaking at the launch, Mr Muhyiddin said the coalition’s manifesto, entitled “I promise”, encompasses plans on how to help the people if it gets elected, banking on close relations between the potential GRS state government and the PN federal government.
“Sabah has many citizens, many of whom need help to progress themselves,” said Mr Muhyiddin.
“The people of Sabah, like the people in other states, need government help - support from all levels, both at the federal and state level. Hence today, we have launched this promise. It is a total commitment from all parties in the coalition to raise the level of Sabahans, especially in this current tense and difficult situation with COVID-19 which has impacted the world and Malaysia,” he added.
The prime minister noted that Sabah has not been immune to the impact of COVID-19. “Many Sabah people have become poor, some of them were not poor before. But now they have become very poor because of the difficulties faced due to COVID-19,” he said.
“Hence, the commitment that we are announcing today is not the usual commitment. It is (an) exceptional commitment, unprecedented for a difficult situation, never faced before by the people of Sabah,” he added.
He also called for voters to give GRS a chance so that the state will be "ruled by a government that is caring".
“We are not like the previous government, make promises but don't fulfill them. I would like to highlight how ... Warisan has made so many promises to aid poor Sabahans impacted by COVID-19, but until now they’ve not received them," said Mr Muhyiddin.
"But when I make promises (from the federal government), it has been met ... Many Sabahans have asked me if the federal aid can be continued for them. I replied that I will talk to the Ministry of Finance first. If it's necessary and there are funds, maybe we will extend more than what has been given before," he added.
The manifesto pledged to improve the livelihoods of the locals through various aspects including jobs, infrastructure and public transport.
As the ruling coalition at the federal level, PN would be in the driver position when it comes to making policies on social aid and assistance.
The leaders of two other major parties in the GRS coalition also spoke about the manifesto at the launch event on Wednesday.
Sabah Barisan Nasional chairman Bung Moktar Radin echoed Mr Muhyiddin’s sentiments, stressing that the new coalition would give the people of Sabah a strong option to overthrow the Warisan+ incumbents.
“UMNO and BN Sabah has restructured its leadership, appearance and organisation because we want to win the hearts of the people,” said Mr Bung Moktar, who is facing a 5-cornered fight for his Lamag state seat
Additionally, Sabah’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chief Hajiji Noor added that the coalition will work towards restoring the status of Sabah as an equal partner with the Federation of Malaya, as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Touching on MA63 at the event, Mr Muhyiddin said the government is looking to announce a detailed plan on the implementation of the agreement, as “everything that has been written in black and white is the right of Sabah”.
He added that further details will be announced on Wednesday night, during a Malaysia Day celebration event in Sibu, Sarawak.