KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal reminded those criticising his administration over the appointment of the Sandakan Municipal Council (SMC) president that the previous Barisan Nasional government had also appointed non-Sabahans as government officials.
However, he said, no one had lashed out against those appointments.
“How many employment opportunities did the BN government give to millionaires from Sarawak (then)?
“When Musa Aman was the chief minister, many towkays (bosses) from Sarawak (were appointed) but no one made any noise then,” he told reporters during a job fair by the Sabah Labour Department here today.
Hii Chang Lik’s appointment as the SMC president drew flak from the public, particularly the opposition, who questioned why a Sarawakian-born person was named as the president.
But Parti Warisan Sabah’s Karamunting assemblyman George Hiew had defended the appointment, saying nobody had complained about Hii or his status during his tenure as an SMC councillor during the BN administration.
The Warisan-led government had also been criticised over the appointment of water engineer Amarjit Singh as the Sabah Water Department director.
Shafie said what was important was “putting the right person in the right place”.
“These people have the right expertise, from the water department to the SMC. We are confident they have the capabilities and experience,” he said.
The Warisan president noted that Hii’s detractors should stop questioning his status as a Sarawak-born citizen because the latter was already a permanent resident in Sabah.
“He has been in Sabah for 40 to 50 years. If we question his origins then it will become a problem.
“There are even people of ‘orang putih’ (Western) ancestry but serving as senators now,” Shafie said, without naming anyone specific.
Meanwhile, commenting on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement over giving fair treatment to Sabah and Sarawak, Shafie hoped it would include basic necessities, especially in remote areas in Sabah.
He said, for instance, Long Pasia, one of the most inland areas in Sabah, needed treated water, good roads, hospitals and better education.
“I will definitely discuss with Mahathir other things we have demanded. Of course, he did mention about Sabah’s population which is small in number compared with the peninsula but Sabah is bigger in size.
“What’s important is we can’t deprive our people of necessities. I know it’s an investment we want to have a return on but we also have to save the people,” Shafie said.
Mahathir had assured that the government would give fair treatment to Sabah and Sarawak and would not differentiate between policy and development implementations in the two states and those in Peninsular Malaysia.