KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Sabah was not the poorest in the country and the poorest were Perlis and Kedah.
“Sabah is going to be the richest state in the country once the deep oil wells yield their production,” he said when told that the people of Sabah felt that they deserved more than what they were getting.
Dr Mahathir said this after lunch with the state Parti Bersatu Pribumi Malaysia (Bersatu) leadership here.
Dr Mahathir also said that Sabah and Sarawak must come together with other states in the country to ensure there is no large gap or disparity in each state.
He said Sabah and Sarawak are actually much richer than many of the states in Peninsular Malaysia, as the two Bornean states have a lot of land.
“We want to renew our policy on agriculture, modern agriculture that can ensure that people in the rural areas can also become rich. That is what I was saying last night but I didn’t say it specifically. It was about land,” he said.
On Monday during a visit to Kuching, Dr Mahathir said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is endeavouring to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as partners in the Federation, as provided for in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He had also reinforced the federal government’s commitment to give more focus on developing the two states in line with its newly introduced Shared Vision Policy.
On the upcoming budget, Dr Mahathir refused to elaborate on the goodies that would be coming Sabah and Sarawak’s way but stated that “the goodies come together with all the others because we want to ensure there is no disparity”.
The Prime Minister also said that the country has a debt of RM1 trillion and if not paid will go bankrupt.
“Most of our collection goes to the repayment of the loans,” he said.
“A lot of the proceeds of the state used to pay off the debt was taken by Najib (former Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak), that is his legacy,” he said
“We are short of funding and we must spend wisely, that is by giving allocation to matters that are high priority, while other matters may receive less allocation,” he said.
At the event, Mahathir, who is also the chairman of Bersatu, also met with the leaders of the Sabah Bersatu, youth wing and division leaders.
Also present were Sabah Bersatu Leadership Committee chairman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor and Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir.
It was part of the Prime Minister’s programme on a one-day visit to the state and had earlier met with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Sabah Cabinet Ministers at the Sabah State Administrative Centre here.
He arrived here yesterday morning from Kuching, Sarawak after attending the Malaysia Day celebration on Monday night. He returned to Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon.