KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) is asking the Warisan-led government whether efforts are underway to fulfil an election pledge to return the federal territory of Labuan to Sabah.
“Warisan has promised this in the election. All I want to know is, whether they will pursue it and what is the status now,” said PBS acting youth chief Christopher Mandut.
He said PBS had always objected to Labuan’s separation from the state.
“This was one of the reasons for the downfall of the Berjaya government in 1985,” he said, referring to the Sabah People’s United Front which ruled the state from 1976 to 1985.
Warisan vice-president Junz Wong had said that the party would attempt to return Labuan to Sabah if it wins the election.
When contacted, Wong refused to comment, saying he would answer at another time.
Mandut said while he would welcome any effort to expand Sabah’s territory, he said it was something easier said than done.
The Labuan secession, he said was done through the act of the majority of the assemblymen in the state assembly in 1984.
Mandut said the move was legal and binding even though no compensation was given to the Sabah government.
Mandut said any move to undo this must get the agreement of both Sabah and the federal government who now owns the island.
“I don’t think the federal government will agree because in Labuan, they are getting oil export revenues,” he said.
He said the oil revenue “totally missed Sabah” and had denied the state its own resources.
“This is the only reason why the federal government wanted Labuan. That is why their efforts to develop the island were not serious,” said Mandut, adding that the “manoeuvres” were done during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s 22 years in power.
“The same prime minister we have now,” he added.
Mandut said after more than 30 years, Labuan was still “in the same old rut”, and was now in decline in tandem with the oil and gas sector’s pace.
Still, he said Putrajaya was unlikely to return Labuan despite the decreasing revenue.