Present Sabah govt is way over its head, says former CM

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee says the present state government seems to lack a clear agenda to bring Sabah forward. (File pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee is unimpressed by the present Sabah government’s performance, saying its leaders are claiming ignorance far too often while also doing and saying things detrimental to the state.

Yong, who is SAPP president, said claiming ignorance appeared to be the favourite excuse of those in the current administration.

“Take for example the Datukship awards in conjunction with the recent Sabah governor’s birthday celebrations.

“Sabah DAP chief Stephen Wong, a state minister, claimed ignorance when his party masters in Malaya questioned his acceptance of the award.

“From another perspective, Wong’s reaction reflects the high level of interference of Malaya-based party leaders in Sabah.

“This present state government is seen as bending over backwards for illegal immigrants while the ministers claim ignorance over what is going on.”

Yong questioned how anyone could believe the chief minister when he said he was unaware that the Immigration Department was reportedly carrying out an exercise involving the re-issuance of IMM13 passes for Filipino refugees.

He said not only was Warisan president and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal the state security council chairman but his party’s youth leader, Mohd Azis Jamman, is also deputy home minister.

He said the present state administration also appeared to be “blissfully” ignorant of the consequences of their statements that were detrimental to some of Sabah’s economic sectors and industries.

For instance, he said Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong’s announcement of the ban on river sand dredging had driven up the price of sand and hurt the construction sector here.

“Similarly, his announcement on the restriction of seafood exports from Sabah has triggered off a chain reaction that has jeopardised the sector.

“Banks have pulled back on their financing for the sector while seafood buyers in Hong Kong and China have turned to alternative sources in the Philippines and Indonesia.

“Sabah will continue to suffer from the loss of our export market.”

Yong said there also appeared to be a paralysis of the government machinery with the sacking of more than 2,800 village heads and community leaders all over Sabah.

The appointment of local councillors is taking too long as well, he said, resulting in zero approvals of local development plans and other businesses.

“This is fuelled by intense bickering among the ruling parties over the appointment of local officials, including community development leaders, councillors and political secretaries.”

This has resulted in a loss of confidence among the people towards the state administration as a coherent team, he added.

Recently, Penampang Upko Youth was upset with its Warisan district counterparts over a “leaked” list of councillors for the Penampang district council that had gone viral on social media as no representatives from Upko were included.

Penampang Upko Youth chief Ronny Dingon said if the list was for real, then it would go against the vision of Shafie, who had wanted all partners in the new Warisan-led Sabah government to work together at all levels.

Yong said there was a perception that the Warisan-led administration is bumbling from one mistake to another in the absence of a clear agenda to bring Sabah forward.

“The government must get its act together or else Sabah and its people will suffer,” he said.

Yong said the state government had also remained silent following the cancellation of the Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline that was supposed to channel natural gas from the west coast to power generation plants in the east coast.

“What’s even more worrying is that this government has not made any commitment to preserve the pristine Maliau Basin.

“Shafie’s statement that there would have to be feasibility studies on the impact of coal mining in Maliau Basin is ringing alarm bells among Sabahans.

“It indicates this government would consider allowing mining instead of giving an unequivocal ‘no’ to the proposal – which the previous administration would have done,” Yong said.