PETALING JAYA: Issues concerning Sabah are always the priority of the state’s leaders, Sabah Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking said.
He said he had raised Sabah’s concerns on a number of issues in the Cabinet and with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself so that urgent solutions could be found.
Yesterday, Mahathir said Sabahans and Sarawakians should think as Malaysians, following criticisms that Putrajaya did not consult East Malaysia over several matters.
Describing the “Sabah for Sabahans” and “Sarawak for Sarawakians” mentality as unhealthy, he said everyone should think of themselves as Malaysians and not individual territories
In a statement today, Leiking said he would seek clarification during the upcoming Cabinet meeting on what Mahathir had meant by his statement and the context in which he made it.
The international trade and industry minister said Mahathir and the Cabinet were well aware of what he and other Sabah ministers had raised during their meetings.
“In fact, even the demand to enforce the recommendations of the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah had been raised several times.
“Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin knows this well, as do all the other Cabinet colleagues,” he said.
On Sabah’s rights, Leiking said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong had been consistent in raising such matters under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Leiking said he had also spoken up on the Jawi script and DreamEDGE third national car issues where some decisions made by the previous administration in 2017 had caused confusion.
On the Jawi script issue, he said he reminded his colleagues that Sabah and Sarawak would likely ask for a “separate syllabus within its rights”.
He said he stated his stand that the same option given to SJKT and SJKC must be extended to government-aided mission schools in Sabah and Sarawak as well.
On the appointment of the new vice-chancellor for Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Leiking said both he and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had discussed the issue with Education Minister Maszlee Malik and stated Sabah’s stand.
Liew demands retraction and apology from Sabah’s Daily Express newspaper
Meanwhile, Liew has demanded a retraction by the Daily Express newspaper in Kota Kinabalu on its report on what Mahathir had said about Sabah leaders.
The minister said he was deeply disturbed by the “unprofessionalism of the news reporting by Daily Express” and accused it of publishing a distorted account of Mahathir’s remarks.
The Express had quoted Mahathir as saying: “As far as I’m concerned, they (Sabahan representatives in the federal Cabinet) did not say anything” about various current issues.
However, Liew said on reviewing the video recording of the press conference, he found that Mahathir had clearly said: “Well, the Sabah government did not say anything to us, only you (James Sarda, Express editor) said it.”
Liew said: “Nowhere in the prime minister’s response had he mentioned that my Sabahan colleagues and I had never raised our concerns in the Cabinet on major issues.”
The issues raised by Sarda included the airport departure levy, the appointment of the new vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the introduction of Jawi in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year 4 pupils in vernacular primary schools next year.