KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Musa Aman must come back and be sworn in as the Sungai Sibuga assemblyman before Sept 11 even if he is sick, says Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.
Replying to questions on the status of Musa’s seat here today, Shafie said the state constitution clearly spelled out that if a person failed to take the oath within a set period of time, the seat which he or she had won in an election would automatically become vacant and a by-election must take place.
“It is under the constitution. I cannot repeal it. I don’t know when he will come back. I just read the news reports and the speculation has been there for months now. But more importantly, the law must prevail in this country.
“Those who breach the law, be it the immigration law, criminal law, corruption law, these must be upheld. There is no immunity for any individual in this country. The law is supposed to be colour blind,” he said.
Asked whether he believed Musa’s explanation that he was sick and bedridden and therefore could not travel home to take his oath, Shafie said he could not be sure if Musa was really sick.
However, he confirmed that Musa’s representative had yet to submit any medical report to the state government.
He said he had seen a photo of Musa on a “sick bed” which had been made viral on social media but he did not believe it reflected the true picture.
Musa, who was sworn in as Sabah’s chief minister on May 10, was replaced by Shafie who was sworn in as the 15th Sabah chief minister on May 12.
Musa left the country on May 14.
His aide, Joh Vid, told Bernama that Musa would return to the state after his treatment at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in London but would be referred to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for follow-up treatment.
Joh said Musa was in London to seek medical treatment following heart bypass surgery.
Meanwhile, commenting on the raid on the Sabah Forestry Department and questioning of the Conservator of Forest Sam Mannan by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Shafie said the state government was looking into the matter seriously.
He said he had arranged with state secretary Hashim Paijan to appoint a new director for the department.
“This department is very crucial to us because we need to collect the land premiums and this is where the revenue comes in from the timber industry.
“So, I think we must get the right person to manage it. There are other staff within the department who have been there for quite some time and we will see how it goes,” he said.
He said the state government had lost billions of ringgit in uncollected taxes and leakages because of mismanagement in the department.
Shafie, who is also Sabah finance minister, said he wanted to develop Sabah’s timber industry.
He pointed out that in the peninsula, despite the low volume of timber harvested compared with Sabah, the industry brought in more than RM20 billion a year to the states there because of their downstream timber industries.
“But in Sabah, despite us being the richest in terms of timber resources, we only get RM200 million from the dividends paid by the Sabah Foundation.
“In Sabah, the contractors get all the profits while the people get crumbs. They are getting richer but we are getting poorer,” he said.
Shafie said if the state government succeeded in cleaning out the house in this sector, thousands of jobs could be created to benefit the people.