It was just a study trip, Yong laughs off Sabah reps’ China visit

Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee wants the Sabah government to provide answers on the investment which Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said would be coming soon.

KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee was clearly amused when it was revealed that the seven-man delegation to China led by Deputy Sabah Speaker George Ginibun was merely a study tour sponsored by China.

Commenting on the clarification by Luyang assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe that the group was invited and fully sponsored by the Chinese consulate, Yong said Ginibun should not have boasted that they were going to China to follow up on the RM2 billion investment pledged by a China company in Sabah.

“After all, the trip was only a study tour,” he chuckled.

Yesterday, Yong questioned the credentials of the seven-man delegation after Ginibun said they were sent by the Sabah government to China as a follow-up to the RM2 billion proposed investment by Chinese companies.

Other than Ginibun, the other members of the team were state legislative assembly secretary Bernard Dalinting, special officer to the speaker Saimin Mirin, and four assemblymen: Abidin Madingkir (Paginatan), Masiung Banah (Kuamut), Tan Lee Fatt (Likas) and Phoong (Luyang).

Responding to Yong’s question, Phoong said the invitation was extended to Sabah State Assembly members with the goal of strengthening bilateral relations between Sabah and China.

“I don’t see any problem if the Chinese consulate wishes for Sabah assemblymen to understand more about China, to build friendship and potentially promote Sabah.”

He said as far as he knew parliamentarians too went on such trips and that it was normal, adding: “It was not a holiday and we did not spend a single sen of tax payer’s money.”

Yong, who is also Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president, however, said the Sabah government still had to answer his question on the investment which Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said would be coming soon.

“I think, the Sabah government should now disclose information about the RM2 billion China investment in Sabah, what sector and how it can benefit Sabah,” he said.

Last month, Shafie said he had met with a group of investors from China who were prepared to invest in “a particular sector” in Sabah which would create 3,000 jobs for locals.