KOTA KINABALU: A political activist has described former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh as a “pure federalist” who is blind to the federal government’s injustice against the state.
Former Upko Youth chief Arthur Sen, who quit the party last month, told FMT Harris’ mindset was shaped by his experience of getting “whatever he asked for” from the federal government during his service as chief minister from 1976 until he was ousted by Parti Bersatu Sabah in 1985.
He was responding to Harris’ recent assertion that the distribution of power between the federal and Sabah governments had always been fair and just.
In a press statement last week, the former chief minister said the federal government had not taken away any of the rights of Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and that this was evident from the inability of East Malaysian leaders to list the alleged violations.
Sen said it was apparent that Harris believed the federal government could do no wrong.
“Whatever he asked for, he was given,” he said. “So it has never crossed his mind that the federal government has been stealing from Sabah and taking away our rights. He does not feel it.
“It does not matter to him that our rights are taken away. But it matters to us Sabahans. Our education and health have been sub-standard.”
Sen alleged that Harris had rejected MA63 without bothering to read it. However, he said it was good that he had chosen to speak about the document.
“It is good for people to keep talking about MA63 even if it does not get across to the intended target, namely the government,” he said.
“To me, as long as people are still talking about it, that is good enough because if you stop talking, then you are accepting defeat.”
He applauded de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong for his efforts towards the establishment of a Cabinet committee to identify the best method of fulfilling MA63.