Former Umno minister claims it was Prime Minister Najib Razak who asked him to assume Sabah chief minister’s post.
PETALING JAYA: Former Umno minister Mohd Shafie Apdal today rubbished Najib Razak’s claim that he had asked to be appointed as Sabah chief minister, claiming that it was the prime minister himself who wanted him to helm the state.
The Parti Warisan Sabah president alleged that when Najib had mooted the idea – purportedly because many Sabah leaders wanted current chief minister Musa Aman replaced – he had turned down the offer.
“I joined national politics to help Sabahans,” Shafie said today, stressing that he was already not eligible then to assume the state seat as he was MP for Semporna.
Speaking to a crowd at an event in Lahad Datu in Sabah, the former Umno vice-president said if he really wanted to be made chief minister he would have contested in the elections as an assemblyman.
Shafie left Umno when he was stripped of his position as rural and regional development minister in 2015 after having held the office for five years. He had previously held other ministerial posts since 2004.
Shafie went on to claim that he was offered the defence minister’s post, but insisted on being given the rural and regional development portfolio so that he could “help rural folk”.
Najib, who is also the Umno president, had during a visit to Sandakan yesterday claimed that a former federal minister who now heads an opposition party had requested to be appointed as chief minister of Sabah.
The premier said the request was to fulfil a personal ambition of that former minister.
While Najib did not name anyone, he was apparently referring to Shafie who was dropped from the cabinet after he became vocal on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd controversy.
Shafie today added that Najib’s visit to Sabah is a sign that the elections are close.
“They know Warisan is picking up speed and that if they delay elections, more will join Warisan.”
He also questioned the federal government’s move to accept Saudi Arabian state investment worth RM31.1 billion in the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development Project (Rapid) in Johor when such a refinery could be built in Sabah.
“In Sabah we have oil and gas, so why not build the refinery here?” he said, adding that the state has been left economically poor despite being rich in natural resources.
“What kind of wealth-sharing is it when the federal government takes 95% (of oil revenue) and we take 5%? We are the largest producer of gas in Malaysia but we can’t make our own gas tanks and must buy them from the west.”
He also claimed that the Malaysian navy base in Semporna was built there due to his influence when he was deputy defence minister from 1999 to 2004.
“When we were friends (with BN), I was praised. When I’m in opposition I’m called a pirate,” he said.