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Dream or the truth?

By C C Pung
The writer is a Sabah Justice of Peace and Tokoh Wartawan Sabah & Labuan.

Everyone knows Indonesian President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, is leaving office after serving a maximum two terms as leader of the biggest Muslim country in the world.

But who would have thought he is planning to fade into the sunset with this eating place in Kota Kinabalu.

The waitress grinned widely but didn’t answer if indeed the man himself will be serving Soto Jakarta away from home.

It is Jokowi’s idea to create the new capital (called Ibu Kota Nusantara, IKN) for Indonesia in East Kalimantan, just south of the border with Sabah.

There were many critics.

But now that his son is allied with a friendly president-elect Prabowo, Jokowi’s USD34+ billion project is safe.

In fact the new capital city that will replace a sinking and congested Jakarta will host the up coming Indonesian national day shortly.

Nusantara’s budget is about twice Sabah’s annual GDP (about RM80 billion). Sabah, as one of the neighbours is expected to experience much economic ripple effects.

Even more so with billions more USD due to come into North Kalimantan where a mega hydro power plant is planned and some of UAE’s wealth and Elon Musk’s deep pockets will be felt.

While Jokowi opening a restaurant in Sabah is far-fetched, Restoran Jokowi is a reminder that  Sabah ought to be aware of Kalimantan’s pot of gold and set about mining it.

While the tens of thousands of Indonesian workers in Sabah could pack up and go home to reap the growing opportunities, Sabah seems oblivious to the reality that an Indon mass exodus could cripple Sabah’s oil palm industry, construction and retail, among others.

I wish Jokowi is really heading this way, if for nothing else but to jolt the clever people in Sabah’s government out from their reverie.

What I see is worrying.

Our clever but clueless bunch seemed, of late, contented with echoing every idea that our neighbour Sarawak put out there.
Qhazanah, Sabah’s premier state investment arm, started a 99 Speedmart-like- and 7-Eleven lookalike kind of mini mart.

As expected, it closed after a brief stint.

And guess who took over? 99 Speedmart. This reflects the level of investment shrewdness among high-salary looking after our money.

I wrote the obituary for the Qhazanah venture when it started.

It wasn’t a nice thing to say. Now I can say that I told you so.

Nusantara plan was unveiled in 2019. Qhazanah couldn’t see any opportunity in it.

Instead, it tried to to revive a ‘sure die’ idea that failed during the Berjaya era.

It attempted to glamourise what is basically a low-margin grocery shop that is typified by extremely low overhead; much like the Pakistani-run dimly lit but well-stocked one-man-show sundry shops all over town.
Qhazanah, on the contrary, has to pay a board, a management team, among others.

It stood no chance

Qhazanah, while you still can, try regain some ‘face’ for yourself, go uncover some gold at Nusantara.

Editor: The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the talantang.com

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