Sabah

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Sabah
State
Negeri Di Bawah Bayu
(Land Below The Wind)
Flag of Sabah
Flag
Coat of arms of Sabah
Coat of arms
Motto: Sabah Maju Jaya
Anthem: Sabah Tanah Airku
(Sabah My Homeland)
   Sabah in    Malaysia
   Sabah in    Malaysia
Coordinates: 5°15′N 117°0′E / 5.250°N 117.000°E / 5.250; 117.000Coordinates: 5°15′N 117°0′E / 5.250°N 117.000°E / 5.250; 117.000
Capital Kota Kinabalu
Government
 • Yang di-Pertua Negeri Juhar Mahiruddin
 • Chief Minister Musa Aman (BN)
Area1
 • Total 73,631 km2 (28,429 sq mi)
Population (2010)1
 • Total 3,117,405
 • Density 42/km2 (110/sq mi)
Demonym Sabahan
Human Development Index
 • HDI (2010) 0.643 (medium) (14th)
Time zone MYT (UTC+8)
Postal code 88xxx to 91xxx
Calling code 087 (Inner District)
088 (Kota Kinabalu & Kudat)
089 (Lahad Datu, Sandakan & Tawau)
Vehicle registration SA,SAA,SAB (Kota Kinabalu & Kota Belud)
SB (Beaufort)
SD (Lahad Datu)
SK (Kudat)
SS (Sandakan)
ST (Tawau)
SU (Keningau)
Former name North Borneo
Brunei Sultanate 15th century2
Sulu Sultanate (Eastern Part) 1658
British North Borneo 1882
Japanese occupation 1941–1945
British Crown Colony 1946
Self-government 31 August 196334
Accession with the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia5 16 September 19636
Website www.sabah.gov.my

Sabah is one of the 13 member states of Malaysia, and is its easternmost state. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It also shares a border with the province of North Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton. Sabah is often referred to as the "Land Below The Wind", a phrase used by seafarers in the past to describe lands south of the typhoon belt.

Etymology

The origin of the name Sabah is uncertain, and there are many theories that have arisen. One theory is that during the time it was part of the Bruneian Sultanate, it was referred to as Saba because of the presence of pisang saba, a type of banana, found on the coasts of the region. Due to the location of Sabah in relation to Brunei, it has been suggested that Sabah was a Bruneian Malay word meaning upstream7 or the northern side of the river.8 Another theory suggests that it came from the Malay word sabak which means a place where palm sugar is extracted. Sabah is also an Arabic word which means sunrise. The presence of multiple theories makes it difficult to pinpoint the true origin of the name.9

It has been said that Sabah was once referred to as Seludang in a 1365 Javanese text known as Nagarakretagama written by Mpu Prapanca.10

Geography

Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malay Archipelago.

The western part of Sabah is generally mountainous, containing the three highest mountains in Malaysia. The most prominent range is the Crocker Range which houses several mountains of varying height from about 1,000 metres to 4,000 metres. At the height of 4,095 metres, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malay Archipelago (excluding New Guinea) and the 10th highest mountain in political Southeast Asia. The jungles of Sabah are classified as tropical rainforests and host a diverse array of plant and animal species. Kinabalu National Park was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2000 because of its richness in plant diversity combined with its unique geological, topographical, and climatic conditions.11

Lying nearby Mount Kinabalu is Mount Tambuyukon. With a height of 2,579 metres, it is the third highest peak in the country. Adjacent to the Crocker Range is the Trus Madi Range which houses the second highest peak in the country, Mount Trus Madi, with a height of 2,642 metres. There are lower ranges of hills extending towards the western coasts, southern plains, and the interior or central part of Sabah. These mountains and hills are traversed by an extensive network of river valleys and are in most cases covered with dense rainforest.

The central and eastern portion of Sabah are generally lower mountain ranges and plains with occasional hills. Kinabatangan River begins from the western ranges and snakes its way through the central region towards the east coast out into the Sulu Sea. It is the second longest river in Malaysia after Rajang River at a length of 560 kilometres. The forests surrounding the river valley also contains an array of wildlife habitats, and is the largest forest-covered floodplain in Malaysia.12

The northern tip of Borneo at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau.

Other important wildlife regions in Sabah include Maliau Basin, Danum Valley, Tabin, Imbak Canyon and Sepilok. These places are either designated as national parks, wildlife reserves, virgin jungle reserves, or protection forest reserve.

Over three-quarters of the human population inhabit the coastal plains. Major towns and urban centres have sprouted along the coasts of Sabah. The interior region remains sparsely populated with only villages, and the occasional small towns or townships.

Beyond the coasts of Sabah lie a number of islands and coral reefs, including the largest island in Malaysia, Pulau Banggi. Other large islands include, Pulau Jambongan, Pulau Balambangan, Pulau Timbun Mata, Pulau Bumbun, and Pulau Sebatik. Other popular islands mainly for tourism are, Pulau Sipadan, Pulau Selingan, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Tiga, and Pulau Layang-Layang.

Conservation

National or state park areas in Sabah are under the protection of Sabah Parks. Other reserves or protected areas are under the governance of the Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Foundation.

History

Earliest human migration and settlement into the region is believed to have dated back about 20,000–30,000 years ago. These early humans are believed to be Australoid or Negrito people. The next wave of human migration, believed to be Austronesian Mongoloids, occurred around 3000 BC.

Flag of the Bruneian Empire.

During the 7th century CE, a settled community known as Vijayapura, a tributary to the Srivijaya empire, was thought to have been the earliest beneficiary to the Bruneian Empire existing around the northeast coast of Borneo.13 Another kingdom which suspected to have existed beginning the 9th century was P'o-ni. It was believed that Po-ni existed at the mouth of Brunei River and was the predecessor to the Sultanate of Brunei.14 The Sultanate of Brunei began after the ruler of Brunei embraced Islam. During the reign of the fifth sultan known as Bolkiah between 1473–1524, the Sultanate's thalassocracy extended over Sabah, Sulu Archipelago and Manila in the north, and Sarawak until Banjarmasin in the south.15 In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the northern and eastern portion of Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu in compensation for the latter's help in settling a civil war in the Brunei Sultanate, but many sources stated that the Brunei did not cede any parts of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu.16

Alexander Dalrymple, an officer of the British East India Company who concluded an agreement with the Sultan of Sulu to set a trading post in the Sulu area, eastern North Borneo.

In 1761, Alexander Dalrymple, an officer of the British East India Company, concluded an agreement with the Sultan of Sulu to allow him to set up a trading post in the Sulu area, although it proved to be a failure.17 In 1846, the island of Labuan on the west coast of Sabah was grant to Britain by the Sultan of Brunei and in 1848 it became the British Crown Colony of North Borneo with a new cession from the Sultan of Brunei been renewed on 1877, while the eastern part of Sabah were ceded by the Sultanate of Sulu on 1878.181920 Following a series of transfers, the rights to North Borneo were transferred to Alfred Dent, whom in 1881 formed the British North Borneo Provisional Association Ltd (predecessor to British North Borneo Company).21 In the following year, the British North Borneo Company was formed and Kudat was made its capital. In 1883, the capital was moved to Sandakan and in 1885, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany signed the Madrid Protocol, which recognised the sovereignty of Spain in the Sulu Archipelago in return for the relinquishment of all Spanish claims over North Borneo.22 North Borneo became a protectorate of the United Kingdom in 1888.

The Japanese forces landed at the West Coast Division of North Borneo.

As part of the Second World War, Japanese forces landed in Labuan on 1 January 1942, and continued to invade the rest of North Borneo. From 1942 to 1945, Japanese forces occupied North Borneo, along with most of the island. Bombings by the allied forces devastated of most towns including Sandakan, which was razed to the ground. In Sandakan, there was once a brutal POW camp run by the Japanese for British and Australian POWs from North Borneo. The prisoners suffered under notoriously inhuman conditions, and Allied bombardments caused the Japanese to relocate the POW camp to inland Ranau, 260 km away. All the prisoners, then were reduced to 2,504 in number, were forced to march the infamous Sandakan Death March. Except for six Australians, all of the prisoners died. The war ended on 10 September 1945. After the surrender, North Borneo was administered by the British Military Administration and in 1946 it became a British Crown Colony. Jesselton replaced Sandakan as the capital and the Crown continued to rule North Borneo until 1963.

The signing of the Cobbold Report of the Commission of Enquiry, North Borneo and Sarawak at Knebworth House, London on 21 June 1962.
Tun Fuad Stephens (left) declaring the joining of Sabah to the Federation of Malaysia at Padang Merdeka, Jesselton on 16 September 1963. Together with him is the Deputy Minister of Malaya Tun Abdul Razak (right) and Tun Mustapha (second right).

On 31 August 1963, North Borneo attained self-government.4 The Cobbold Commission was set up on 1962 to determine whether the people of Sabah and Sarawak favoured the proposed union, and found that the union was generally favoured by the people. Most ethnic community leaders of Sabah, namely, Tun Mustapha representing the Muslims, Tun Fuad Stephens representing the non-Muslim natives, and Khoo Siak Chew representing the Chinese, would eventually support the union. After discussion culminating in the Malaysia Agreement and 20-point agreement, on 16 September 1963 North Borneo, as Sabah, was united with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore, to form the independent Federation of Malaysia.232425

From before the formation of Malaysia till 1966, Indonesia adopted a hostile policy towards the British backed Malaya, and after union to Malaysia. This undeclared war stems from what Indonesian President Sukarno perceive as an expansion of British influence in the region and his intention to wrest control over the whole of Borneo under the Indonesian republic. Tun Fuad Stephens became the first chief minister of Sabah. The first Governor (Yang di-Pertuan Negeri) was Tun Mustapha. Sabah held its first state election in 1967. Until 2008, a total of 11 state elections has been held. Sabah has had 13 different chief ministers and 9 different Yang di-Pertua Negeri as of 2009. Beginning 1970, Filipino refugees from the Mindanao began arriving in Sabah as a result of the Moro insurgency taking place in that region.26 On 14 June 1976 the government of Sabah signed an agreement with Petronas, the federal government-owned oil and gas company, granting it the right to extract and earn revenue from petroleum found in the territorial waters of Sabah in exchange for 5% in annual revenue as royalties.27

The state government of Sabah ceded Labuan to the Malaysian federal government, and Labuan became a federal territory on 16 April 1984. In 2000, the state capital Kota Kinabalu was granted city status, making it the 6th city in Malaysia and the first city in the state. Also this year, Kinabalu National Park was officially designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, making it the first site in the country to be given such designation. In 2002, the International Court of Justice ruled that the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan, claimed by Indonesia, are part of Sabah and Malaysia.28

In February 2013, the Sabah village of Tanduo in the Lahad Datu region was occupied by several armed Filipino supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu, calling themselves the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. They were sent by Jamalul Kiram III, a claimant to the throne of the sultanate. His stated goal is to assert the Philippine territorial claim to eastern Sabah as part of the North Borneo dispute.293031 In response, Malaysian security forces surrounded the village. Attempts by the Malaysian and the Philippine governments to reach a peaceful solution with the Sultan's supporters were unsuccessful and the standoff escalated into an armed conflict on 1 March 2013.3233

Demographics

Population

Population in North Borneo – 1960 Census34
(now Sabah and Labuan)
Population Percent
Kadazan-Dusun
  
32%
Murut
  
4.9%
Bajau
  
13.1%
Brunei Malay
  
0.4%
Other Muslim groups
  
15.8%
Indonesians
  
5.5%
Filipinos
  
1.6%
Chinese
  
23%
Sources: British North Borneo (1961)

Sabah’s population numbered 651,304 in 1970 and grew to 929,299 a decade later. But in the two decades following 1980, the state’s population rose significantly by a staggering 1.5 million people, reaching 2,468,246 by 2000. As of 2010, this number had grown further to 3,117,405, with foreigners making up 27% of the total 35 The population of Sabah is 3,117,405 as of the last census in 2010 which showed more than a 400 percent increase from the census of 1970 (from 651,304 in 1970 to 3,117,405 in 2010).36 and is the third most populous state in Malaysia after Selangor and Johor.

Sabah has one of the highest population growth rates in the country as a result of legal and purportedly state-sponsored illegal immigration and naturalization from elsewhere in Malaysia, Indonesia and particularly from the Muslim-dominated southern provinces of the Philippines who were awarded Malay stock and granted citizenship.3738 As a result, the Bornean Sabahan, most of whom are Christian, have become minorities in their own homeland,3439 therefore, on 1 June 2012, Prime Minister Najib Razak of the Malaysia announced that the federal government has agreed to set up the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah to investigate.40

Population in Sabah – 2010 Census41
Population Percent
Kadazan-Dusun
  
17.82%
Murut
  
3.22%
Bajau
  
14%
Brunei Malay
  
5.71%
Other bumiputra42
  
20.56%
Chinese
  
9.11%
Other non-bumiputra
  
1.5%
Non-Malaysian citizen
  
27.81%
Sources: Department of Statistics, Malaysia.
  • Kadazan-Dusun: 17.82% (555,647)
  • Bajau: 14% (436,672)
  • Brunei Malay: 5.71% (178,029)
  • Murut: 3.22% (100,631)
  • Other bumiputra:42 20.56% (640,964) – which consists of Rungus, Iranun, Bisaya, Tatana, Lun Bawang/Lun Dayeh, Tindal, Tobilung, Kimaragang, Suluk, Ubian, Tagal, Timogun, Nabay, Kedayan, Orang Sungai, Makiang, Minokok, Mangka’ak, Lobu, Bonggi, Tidong, Bugis, Ida’an (Idahan), Begahak, Kagayan, Talantang, Tinagas, Banjar, Gana, Kuijau, Tombonuo, Dumpas, Peluan, Baukan, Sino, Jawa
  • Chinese (majority Hakka): 9.11% (284,049)
  • Other non-bumiputra: 1.5% (47,052)
  • Non-Malaysian citizens (Filipino, Indonesian): 27.81% (867,190)

Language and ethnicity

Malay language is the national language spoken across ethnicities, although Sabahan dialect called Baku is different from West Malaysian dialect of Johor-Riau.43 Sabah also has its own slang for many words in Malay, mostly originated from indigenous or Indonesian words. In addition, indigenous languages such as Kadazan, Dusun, Bajau and Murut have their own segments on state radio broadcast as well as English.

The people of Sabah are divided into 32 officially recognised ethnic groups, in which 28 are recognised as Bumiputra, or indigenous people.3 The largest non-bumiputra ethnic group is the Chinese (13.2%). The predominant Chinese dialect group in Sabah is Hakka, followed by Cantonese and Hokkien. Most Chinese people in Sabah are concentrated in the major cities and towns, namely Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau. The largest indigenous ethnic group is Kadazan-Dusun, followed by Bajau, and Murut. There is a much smaller proportion of Indians and other South Asians in Sabah compared to other parts of Malaysia. Cocos people is a minority ethnic residing in Sabah especially at the Tawau Division. Collectively, all persons coming from Sabah are known as Sabahans and identify themselves as such.

Sabah demography consists of many ethnic groups, for example:

Other inhabitants:

Religion

Since independence in 1963, Sabah has undergone a significant change in its religious composition, particularly in the percentage of its population professing Islam. In 1960, the percentage of Muslims is 37.9%, Christians - 16.6%, while about one-third remained animist.46 In 2010, the percentage of Muslims has increased to 65.4%, while people professing Christianity at 26.6% and Buddhism at 6.1%.

Religion in North Borneo - 1960 Census46
(now Sabah and Labuan)
Religion Percent
Islam
  
37.9%
Animism
  
33.3%
Christianity
  
16.6%
Other
  
12.2%

In 1973, USNO amended the Sabah Constitution to make Islam the religion of State of Sabah. USIA vigorously promote conversion of Sabahans natives to Islam by offering rewards and office position, and also through migration of Muslim immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia. Expulsion of Christian missionaries from the state were also performed to reduce Christian proselytisation of Sabahan natives.47 Filipino Muslims and other Muslim immigrants from Indonesia and even Pakistan were brought into the state with instruction from the USNO chief at the time Tun Mustapha and been giving identity cards in the early 1990s to help topple the PBS state government and to make him appointed as the state governor, however his plan to become the state governor were unsuccessful but many illegal immigrants has changed the demography of Sabah.48

These policies were continued when Sabah was under the BERJAYA's administration headed by Datuk Harris, in which he openly exhorted to Muslims of the need to have a Muslim majority, to control the Christian Kadazans (without the help of the Chinese minority).49

Religion in Sabah - 2010 Census39
Religion Percent
Islam
  
65.4%
Christianity
  
26.6%
Buddhism
  
6.1%
Other
  
1.6%
No religion
  
0.3%

As of 2010 the population of Sabah follows:

  • 2,096,153 Muslim
  • 853,726 Christian
  • 194,428 Buddhist
  • 3037 Hindu
  • 2495 Confucianism/Taoism
  • 3467 followers of other religions
  • 9850 non-religious
  • 43,586 unknown religion

Economy

Sabah economy relies on three key development sectors; agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. Petroleum and palm oil remained the two most exported commodities. Sabah imports mainly automobiles and machinery, petroleum products and fertilizers, food and manufactured goods.50

Agriculture

Sabah was traditionally heavily dependent on lumber based on export of tropical timber, but with increasing depletion at an alarming rate of the natural forests, ecological efforts to save the remaining natural rainforest areas were made in early 1982 through forest conservation methods by collecting seeds of different species particularly acacia mangium and planting it to pilot project areas pioneered by the Sandakan Forest Research Institute researchers, however, palm oil has emerged as a choice of farmers to plant as crops. Other agricultural products important in the Sabah economy include rubber and cacao. America's lobster breeding company Darden will start a huge investment to breed lobsters in Sabah waters for export to the United States in the coming years. Agriculture sector is supported by Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture & Food Industry and Palm Oil Industrial Cluster.

Tourism

Tourism, particularly eco-tourism, is a major contributor to the economy of Sabah. In 2006, 2,000,000 tourists visited Sabah51 and it is estimated that the number will continue to rise following vigorous promotional activities by the state and national tourism boards and also increased stability and security in the region. Sabah currently has six national parks. One of these, the Kinabalu National Park, was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000. It is the first52 of two sites in Malaysia to obtain this status, the other being the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak. These parks are maintained and controlled by Sabah Parks under the Parks Enactment 1984. The Sabah Wildlife Department also has conservation, utilisation, and management responsibilities.53 Tourism sector is supported by Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment and Sabah Tourism Board. Sri Pelancongan Sabah, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sabah Tourism Board, organises the annual Sunset Music Fest at the Tip of Borneo, which is Sabah's largest outdoor concert. The venue is in Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, Kudat, and has been held annually since 2009, attracting both local and international acts.54

Manufacturing

There are hundreds of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and industries (SMIs) in Sabah55 and some companies have become a household name such as Gardenia. Sabah government is seriously pursuing industrialisation with the Sabah Development Corridor plan specifically in Sepanggar area where KKIP Industrial Park and Sepanggar Container Port Terminal located. Sabah manufacturing are supported by Ministry of Industrial Development and Department of Industrial Development & Research.

Urban centres and ports

Kota Kinabalu City.
Sandakan City.

There are currently 7 ports in Sabah: Kota Kinabalu Port, Sepanggar Bay Container Port, Sandakan Port, Tawau Port, Kudat Port, Kunak Port, and Lahad Datu Port. These ports are operated and maintained by Sabah Ports Authority.56 The major towns and city are:

Rank City Population57
1 Kota Kinabalu 700,999
2 Sandakan 699,567
3 Tawau 600,963
4 Keningau 400,890
5 Lahad Datu 378,900
6 Semporna 240,810
7 Kudat 199,710

Issues

In the 1970s, Sabah was ranked second behind Selangor including Kuala Lumpur as the richest state in Malaysia.58 As of 2010, Sabah is the poorest state in Malaysia. GDP growth was 2.4%, the lowest in Malaysia behind Kelantan.59 Proportion of population living below US$1 per day declined from 30% in 1990 to 20% in 2009 but still lag behind other states that have lowered poverty rate significantly from 17% in 1990 to 4% in 2009.60 Slum is nonexistent in Malaysia but the highest number of squatter settlements is in Sabah with households between 20,000 to 40,000. After Kuala Lumpur, most low-cost public housing units under the People's Housing Program were built in Sabah.

Cabotage policy imposed on Sabah and Sarawak is one of the reason behind the higher price of goods. The rules set in early 1980s made sure that all domestic transport of foreign goods between peninsula and Sabah ports are only for Malaysian company vessels. This leads to shipping cartel charging excessive costs and ultimately a higher cost of living in East Malaysia.61

Cabotage rules also affected the industry sector. Tan Chong Motor is planning to build a Nissan 4WD factory in KKIP but higher cost of shipping stalled the plan that could provide new jobs.62 Lack of industry providing jobs for professional and highly skilled workers forced large numbers of Sabahans to seek opportunities in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and United States.

The 5% fixed oil royalty Sabah currently receives from Petronas according to Petroleum Development Act 1974 is also an issue of contention.63 The three oil producing states namely Sabah, Sarawak and Terengganu demanded Petronas to review the agreement and increase royalty to no avail.

Government

Sabah is a representative democracy with universal suffrage for all citizens above 21 years of age. However, legislation regarding state elections are within the powers of the federal government and not the state.

Executive

The Yang di-Pertua Negeri sits at the top of the hierarchy followed by the state legislative assembly and the state cabinet. The Yang di-Pertuan Negeri is officially the head of state however its functions are largely ceremonial. The chief minister is the head of government and is also the leader of the state cabinet. The legislature is based on the Westminster system and therefore the chief minister is appointed based on his or her ability to command the majority of the state assembly. A general election representatives in the state assembly must be held every five years. This is the only elected government body in the state, with local authorities being fully appointed by the state government owing to the suspension of local elections by the federal government. The assembly meets at the state capital, Kota Kinabalu.

# Chief Minister Took office Left office Party
1 Tun Fuad Stephens (1st term) September 16, 1963 December 31, 1964 Alliance (UNKO)
2 Peter Lo Sui Yin January 1, 1965 May 12, 1967 Alliance (SCA)
3 Mustapha Harun May 12, 1967 November 1, 1975 Alliance (USNO)
4 Mohamad Said Keruak November 1, 1975 April 18, 1976 Barisan Nasional (USNO)
5 Tun Fuad Stephens (2nd term) April 18, 1976 June 6, 1976 Barisan Nasional (BERJAYA)
6 Harris Salleh June 6, 1976 April 22, 1985 Barisan Nasional (BERJAYA)
7 Joseph Pairin Kitingan April 22, 1985 March 17, 1994 Parti Bersatu Sabah
(1985–1986)
Barisan Nasional (PBS)
(1986–1990)
Parti Bersatu Sabah
(1990–1994)
8 Sakaran Dandai March 17, 1994 December 27, 1994 Barisan Nasional (UMNO)
9 Salleh Said Keruak December 27, 1994 May 28, 1996 Barisan Nasional (UMNO)
10 Yong Teck Lee May 28, 1996 May 28, 1998 Barisan Nasional (SAPP)
11 Bernard Dompok May 28, 1998 March 14, 1999 Barisan Nasional (UPKO)
12 Osu Sukam March 14, 1999 March 27, 2001 Barisan Nasional (UMNO)
13 Chong Kah Kiat March 27, 2001 March 27, 2003 Barisan Nasional (LDP)
14 Musa Aman March 27, 2003 present Barisan Nasional (UMNO)

Legislature

Composition of Sabah State Legislative
Political
Party
Legislative
Assembly
Parliament
Members
UMNO 32 13
PBS 12 3
UPKO 4 4
LDP 2 1
MCA 1 0
PBRS 1 1
SAPP 2 2
DAP 1 1
Source: Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya

Members of the state assembly are elected from 60 constituencies which are delineated by the Election Commission of Malaysia and may not necessarily result in constituencies of same voter population sizes. Sabah is also represented in the federal parliament by 25 members elected from the same number of constituencies.

The present elected state and federal government posts are held by Barisan Nasional (BN), a coalition of parties which includes United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).64

Politics of Sabah

Prior to the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the then North Borneo interim government submitted a 20-point agreement to the Malayan government as conditions before Sabah would join the Federation. Subsequently, North Borneo legislative assembly agreed on the formation of Malaysia on the conditions that these state rights were safeguarded. Sabah hence entered Malaysia as an autonomous state. However, there is a prevailing view amongst Sabahan that beginning from the second tenure of BERJAYA's administration under Datuk Harris, this autonomy has been gradually eroded under the federal influence and hegemony.65 Amongst political contention often raised by Sabahans are the cession of Labuan island to Federal government and unequal sharing and exploitation of Sabah's resources of petroleum. This has resulted in strong anti-federal sentiments and even occasional call for secession from the Federation amongst the people of Sabah.

Until the Malaysian general election, 2008, Sabah, along with the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, are the only three states in Malaysia that had ever been ruled by opposition parties not part of the ruling BN coalition. Led by Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, PBS formed government after winning the 1985 elections and ruled Sabah until 1994. In 1994 Sabah state election, despite PBS winning the elections, subsequent cross-overs of PBS assembly members to the BN component party resulted in BN having majority of seats and hence took over the helm of the state government.66

A unique feature of Sabah politics was a policy initiated by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1994 whereby the chief minister's post is rotated among the coalition parties every 2 years regardless of the party in power at the time, thus theoretically giving an equal amount of time for each major ethnic group to rule the state. However, in practice this system was problematic as it is too short for any leader to carry-out long term plan.67 This practice has since stopped with power now held by majority in the state assembly by the UMNO party, which also holds a majority in the national parliament.

Direct political intervention by the federal, for example, introduction and later convenient [for UMNO] abolition of the chief minister's post and earlier PBS-BERJAYA conflict in 1985, along with co-opting rival factions in East Malaysia, is sometimes seen as a political tactic by the UMNO-led federal government to control and manage the autonomous power of the Borneo states.68 The federal government however tend to view that these actions are justifiable as the display of parochialism amongst East Malaysians is not in harmony with nation building. This complicated Federal-State relations hence become a source of major contention in Sabah politics.

Administrative districts

Sabah consists of five administrative divisions, which are in turn divided into 25 districts.

These administrative divisions are, for all purposes, just for reference. During the British rule until the transition period when Malaysia was formed, a Resident was appointed to govern each division and provided with a palace (Istana). This means that the British considered each of these divisions equivalent to a Malayan state. The post of the Resident was abolished in favour of district officers for each of the district.

Division Name Districts Area (km²) Population (2010)69
1 West Coast Division Kota Belud, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Penampang, Putatan, Ranau, Tuaran 7,588 1,067,589
2 Interior Division Beaufort, Nabawan, Keningau, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang, Tambunan, Tenom 18,298 424,534
3 Kudat Division Kota Marudu, Kudat, Pitas 4,623 192,457
4 Sandakan Division Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tongod 28,205 702,207
5 Tawau Division Kunak, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tawau 14,905 819,955

As in the rest of Malaysia, local government comes under the purview of state governments.70 However, ever since the suspension of local government elections in the midst of the Malaysian Emergency, which was much less intense in Sabah than it was in the rest of the country, there have been no local elections. Local authorities have their officials appointed by the executive council of the state government.7172

Education and culture

Universities

Panorama of UMS.
Official Name in Malay Name in English Acronym
Kolej Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Tunku Abdul Rahman University College TARC
Universiti Malaysia Sabah Malaysia Sabah University UMS
Universiti Teknologi MARA MARA Technology University UiTM
Universiti Terbuka Malaysia Open University Malaysia OUM

Colleges

Official Name in Malay Name in English Acronym Website
Kolej Kinabalu Kinabalu College [2]
Institut Seni Sabah Sabah Institute of Art SIA [3]
Kolej Yayasan Sabah Sabah Foundation College KYS [4]
Kolej SIDMA Sabah SIDMA College Sabah SIDMA [5]
Kolej Pelancongan Asia Antarabangsa Asian Tourism International College ATIC [6]
Sekolah Perniagaan AMC Advanced Management College AMC [7]
Politeknik Kota Kinabalu Kota Kinabalu Polytechnic POLITEKNIK [8]
Kolej Pentadbiran Dinamik Antarabangsa Sabah Sabah International Dynamic Management College SIDMA [9]
Institut Sinaran Sinaran Institute SINARAN [10]
Kolej Antarabangsa AlmaCrest AlmaCrest International College ACIC [11]
Kolej Eastern Eastern College EASTERN [12]
Institut Prima Bestari Prima Bestari Institute IPB [13]
Kolej Informatics Informatics College INFORMATICS
Kolej INTI INTI College INTI [14]
Pusat Teknologi dan Pengurusan Lanjutan Advanced Management and Technology Centre PTPL [15]
Kolej Teknologi Cosmopoint Cosmopoint Kota Kinabalu COSMOPOINT [16]
Kolej Multimedia Multimedia College MMC
Institut Teknologi Sabah Sabah Institute of Technology SIT [17]
Institut Perguruan Kampus Gaya Gaya Teachers Training Institute IPGKG [18]
Institut Perguruan Kampus Keningau Keningau Teachers Training Institute IPGKK [19]
Institut Perguruan Kampus Tawau Tawau Teachers Training Institute IPGKT [20]
Institut Perguruan Kampus Kent Kent Teachers Training Institute [21]
Kolej Masterskill Masterskill College MASTERSKILL [22]
Kolej MAHSA MAHSA College MAHSA

Communication

Radio Televisyen Malaysia operates 2 statewide free-to-air terrestrial radio channels, Sabah FM and Sabah VFM as well as district specific channels such as Keningau FM. A local television channel is due to be launched called TV Sabah, also under RTM. KK FM is run by Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Bayu FM is only available through Astro satellite feed. Recently KL based AMP Radio Networks and Suria FM set up base to tap the emerging market. Sabahan DJs were hired and the content caters to Sabahan listeners.

Sabah's first established newspaper was the Sabah Times. The newspaper was founded by Tun Fuad Stephens, who later became the first Chief Minister of Sabah. Today the main newspapers are New Sabah Times, Daily Express and Borneo Post.

Movies and TV

The earliest known footage of Sabah is from two movies by Martin and Osa Johnson titled Jungle Depths of Borneo and Borneo filmed at Abai, Kinabatangan.73 Three Came Home was a 1950 Hollywood movie based on the memoir of the same name by Agnes Newton Keith depicting the Second World War in Sandakan.

Bat*21 was a 1988 Vietnam War film directed by Peter Markle and shot at various locations in West Sabah such as Menggatal, Telipok, Kayumadang and Lapasan.

Sabah's first homegrown film was Orang Kita, starring Abu Bakar Ellah. Sabah-produced TV programs such as dramas or documentaries are usually aired on TV1 while musicals aired through special Sabah slots in Muzik Aktif.

Foreign films and TV shows filmed in Sabah include the reality show Survivor: Borneo, The Amazing Race, Eco-Challenge Borneo as well as a number of Hong Kong production films such as Born Rich. Sabah was featured in Sacred Planet, a documentary hosted by Robert Redford.

Sports

Sabah FA won the FA Cup in 1995 then become the Premier League champion in 1996.

Matlan Marjan is a former football player for Malaysia. He scored two goals against England in an international friendly on 12 June 1991. The English team included Stuart Pearce, David Batty, David Platt, Nigel Clough, Gary Lineker, was captained by Bryan Robson and coached by Bobby Robson.74 He again made history for Sabah when he was named the captain of the national team in the 1995 match against Brazilian football club, Flamengo XI, in which the team famously held their opponent to a 1-1 draw.75 In 1995, he along with six other Sabah players, were arrested on suspicion of match-fixing. Although the charges were dropped, he was prevented from playing professional football and was banished to another district.7677 He was banished under the Restricted Residence Act.78

Martin Guntali was a weightlifter who won the Commonwealth Games bronze medal. Lim Keng Liat was a swimmer who won the Asian Games gold medal in 2006. Arrico Jumiti is a weightlifter who won the Asian Games gold medal at Guangzhou in 2010.

Literature

Australian author Wendy Law Suart lived in Jesselton between 1949–1953 and wrote The Lingering Eye – Recollections of North Borneo about her experiences.79

American author Agnes Newton Keith lived in Sandakan between 1934–1952 and wrote four books about Sabah, Land Below the Wind, Three Came Home, White Man Returns and Beloved Exiles. The second book was made into a Hollywood motion picture.

In the Earl Mac Rauch novelisation of Buckaroo Banzai (Pocket Books, 1984; repr. 2001), and in the DVD commentary, Buckaroo's archenemy Hanoi Xan is said to have his secret base in Sabah, in a "relic city of caves."

Ethnic dances

There are many types of traditional dances in Sabah, most notably:

  • Sumazau: Kadazandusun traditional dance which performed during weddings and Kaamatan festival. The dance form is akin to a couple of birds flying together.
  • Magunatip: Famously known as the Bamboo dance, requires highly skilled dancers to perform. Native dance of the Muruts, but can also be found in different forms and names in South East Asia.
  • Nona Mansaya: Called Dansa among the Cocos Islanders in Sabah, the dance used violin as the primary instrument and the dance derived from the culture of Scottish and Javanese.
  • Daling-daling: Danced by Bajaus and Suluks . In its original form, it was a dance which combined Arabic belly dancing and the Indian dances common in this region, complete with long artificial finger nails and golden head gear accompanied by a Bajau and Suluk song called daling-daling which is a love story. Its main characteristic is the large hip and breast swings but nowadays it is danced with a faster tempo but less swings, called Igal-igal by the Bajau from Semporna District.

Notable residents

Statue of Antanom in Tenom.

Mat Salleh was a Bajau leader who led a rebellion against British North Borneo Company administration in North Borneo. Under his leadership, the rebellion which lasted from 1894 to 1900 razed the British Administration Centre on Pulau Gaya and exercised control over Menggatal, Inanam, Ranau and Tambunan. The rebellion was by Bajaus, Dusuns and Muruts.80

Antanum or Antanom (full name Ontoros Antonom) (1885–1915) was a famous and influential Murut warrior who led the chiefs and villagers from Keningau, Tenom, Pensiangan and Rundum to start the Rundum uprising against the British North Borneo Company but was killed during fighting with the company army in Sungai Selangit near Pensiangan.

Another notable Sabahan is Donald Stephens who helped form the state of Sabah under the UN appointed Cobbold commission. He was an initial opponent of Malaysia but later converted to the support of it.81 He was also the first Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the Kadazan-dusun and Murut people.

Tun Datu Mustapha was a Bajau-Kagayan-Suluk Muslim political leader in Sabah through the United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) party.82 He was a vocal supporter of Malaysia but fell out of favour with Malayan leaders despite forming UMNO branches in Sabah and deregistering USNO. Efforts to reregister USNO have not been allowed, unlike UMNO that was allowed to be reregistered under the same name.83

Former Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan is the current Huguan Siou and the President of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS). Pairin, the longest serving chief minister of the state and one of the first Kadazandusun lawyers, was known for his defiance of the federal government in the 1980s and 1990s in promoting the rights of Sabah and speaking out against the illegal immigration problems. Sabah was at the time one of only two states with opposition governments in power, the other being Kelantan. PBS has since rejoined BN and Datuk Pairin is currently the Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah.

The 8th and current Attorney General of Malaysia, Abdul Gani Patail, comes from Sabah.

In 2006, Penampang-born Richard Malanjum was appointed Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and became the first Kadazandusun to hold such a post.

Datuk Hj. Railey bin Hj. Jeffery was the first and well-known Cocos political leader. He was the Deputy Information Minister and the JKR Deputy Minister in the 1990s.

Penny Wong, born in Kota Kinabalu in 1968, moved to Australia at age 5. She became the first Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation in Australia.8485 She was the first Asian-born member of the Australian cabinet.86 She is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in Australia. 8788

Philip Lee Tau Sang (died 1959) was one of the most prominent Sabahan Chinese politicians in the 1950s. Of Hakka descent, he was greatly favoured by the British, whose colonisation Sabah was still under then, and was Member of the Advisory Council of North Borneo (1947–1950), Legislative Council of North Borneo (1950–1958) and Executive Council of North Borneo (1950–1953, 1956–1957).89 He has been posthumously honoured with a road named after him in the town of Tanjung Aru, near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Che'Nelle is a Sabahan-born Australian recording artist famous for her single I Feel in Love With the DJ. Cheryline Lim as her real name, was born 10 March 1983. She was born to a Bornean-born Chinese father, and a mother of a mixed of Indian and Dutch heritage. Born in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Lim and her family moved to Perth, Australia when she was 10 years old.

Territorial dispute

W. C. Cowie, managing director of the North Borneo Chartered Company with the Sultan of Sulu.

Sabah has seen several territorial disputes with Malaysia's neighbours Indonesia and the Philippines. In 2002 both Malaysia and Indonesia submitted to arbitration by the International Court of Justice on a territorial dispute over the Sipadan and Ligitan islands. There are also several overlapping claims over the Ambalat continental shelf in the Celebes (Sulawesi) Sea. Malaysia's claim over a portion of the Spratly Islands is also based on sharing a continental shelf with Sabah & Sarawak.

The Philippines has a territorial claim over much of the eastern part of Sabah, the former North Borneo. It claims that the territory, via the heritage of the Sultanate of Sulu, was only leased to the North Borneo Chartered Company in 1878 with the Sultanate's sovereignty never being relinquished. Malaysia however, considers this dispute as a "non-issue," as it interprets the 1878 agreement as that of cession and that it deems that the residents of Sabah had exercised their right to self-determination when they voted to join the Malaysian federation in 1963.9091

See also

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