Malaysia

Seeking seventh term as MP, Ongkili insists has done plenty for impoverished Kota Marudu in 27 years 

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Seeking seventh term as MP, Ongkili insists has done plenty for impoverished Kota Marudu in 27 years 

Ongkili said the Kota Marudu of today is a far cry from what it was before in the 1990s. — Picture via Facebook

By Julia Chan

Thursday, 17 Nov 2022 8:45 AM MYT

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 17 — Facing criticism of performing poorly for Kota Marudu during his 27-year tenure as its MP, Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili pointed to the changes in the northern Sabah district over the years.

He pointed to the establishment of major franchises like KFC and Pizza Hut, Tealive and Mr DIY in recent years, saying bringing these retail giants helped the local economy boom as well as a population growth.

“Back then, Kota Marudu only had one bank, the Sabah Bank Berhad — now known as Alliance.

“Today, the constituency has an additional three banks — Bank Simpanan Malaysia, Agrobank and Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Berhad, and the number of buildings increased to 983 shop lots, 1,188 housing areas, and at least 32 long houses in both Tandek and Matunggong,” he said in a statement today.

“The vast development here has also lured big franchises to invest in the area, for instance we have two KFC outlets, three Mr DIY shops, a Marrybrown, Pizza Hut, Tealive, and OldTown White Coffee, to mention some.

“In fact, the Servay Supermarket sits on a four-acre land in the heart of Kota Marudu, which is believed to be among the largest in Sabah,” he added.

Ongkili, who was a federal minister in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs, also touted infrastructural development that helped connect Kota Marudu to other districts, listing Jalan Marak-Parak and Jalan Gana as examples.

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He said Kota Marudu now has 60 schools ranging from kindergarten to secondary levels, a vocational school and a community college.

“The ‘poor’ status is mainly referred to the hill rice cultivators. mainly the Sonsogon tribe, otherwise lowland communities here can compete economically with any agricultural district in Sabah.

“But to be called as one of the poorest districts in Malaysia does not fit the bill. The people here have the purchasing power, so much so we were able to attract big franchises to invest here. To say that there is no development here, I would say Kota Marudu today is a far cry from what it was before in the 1990s.

Ongkili made his debut in Kota Marudu in Election 1994, when there were only 69 shop lots, hardly any concrete buildings, and the only asphalted road was between Langkon and the town area.

“All these are developments which did not come by chance, we had it all properly planned. What we have achieved so far are the desires of the people,” he said.

Seeking re-election for a seventh term in GE15, Ongkili addressed concerns that he had occupied the seat for “too long” and that Kota Marudu needed someone younger and fresher to represent it.

He pointed out that leadership should not be based on age but on the ability to serve and gave two-time former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as an example.

“Mahathir is 97, I’m only 69. I offer based on my electorates, to serve the people,” Ongkili said.

He added that his doctors have given him a clean bill of health and therefore he is fit to contest in the election as his passion to serve is undimmed.

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“The doctors said I’m in perfect health, but I still need to take care of my body and get enough rest. But I think, the zeal to serve gives you a lot of energy. I believe it is an uphill task, but I am confident the rakyat will support GRS for the good of the state and the people,” he said, referring to the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah coalition.

“For me, after nearly three decades here, I have proved to the people that I have contributed my part to transform Kota Marudu to what it is today. Expectations of the electorates are now very high.

“Those who will take it from me obviously need to do many times better than me.

“Having said that, my eventual desire is to assist other new leaders do a better job than what I and my team have done for Kota Marudu,” he ended.

Ongkili began his political foray with Parti Bersatu Sabah 28 years ago and won the Langkon state seat handsomely.

His current stab at the Kota Marudu seat is arguably his hardest despite being the incumbent after the district was highlighted as one of the poorest in the country.

Ongkili is facing Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat deputy president Datuk Wetrom Bahanda, Muda’s Shahrizal Denci, Warisan’s Datuk Jilid Kuminding, Pejuang Tanah Air’s Mohd Azmie Zulkiflee and independent candidate Norman Tulang.

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