Pan Borneo project no longer run by party man as before, says Shafie

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal speaking at a Christmas and New Year celebration in Membakut today.

KIMANIS: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal rejected claims from former premier Najib Razak that the Pan Borneo Highway project had been left abandoned after the new government took power.

Instead, he said, the Sabah and federal governments had scrapped the old “project delivery partner” (PDP) concept, which would significantly slash the cost of the mega project and offer more transparency.

“I will let him (Najib) know it is not abandoned. Previously, the Pan Borneo Highway project was handled by a consultant linked to the Sabah Umno Youth working secretary.

“How can a government project costing RM26 billion be managed in such a way? That is why I asked the federal Cabinet to abolish the PDP concept.

“We have a new structure now where the monitoring and implementing body is chaired by the state secretary and also involves representatives from the finance and works ministries at state and federal levels,” he said.

Shafie was speaking to reporters during a Christmas and New Year celebration in Membakut, about 20 minutes from here today.

Yesterday Najib said the abandoned highway project and a controversy over the Sabah Temporary Pass would contribute to Barisan Nasional’s victory in the Kimanis by-election.

Shafie said under the old concept, almost RM900 million in land compensation had been paid out but yet the project was nowhere near completion.

He was confident the new structure will work and save cost because “it is not run by any political party but by the state and federal governments.”

Dr M’s tenure as PM

On calls for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to step down by May this year, Shafie said the state government will support the premier “as long as he’s there.”

The Semporna MP said Mahathir has the experience and knowledge to do so.

“And he needs help from us. During the last general election, the people in this country voted for change. As long as Tun is there, we will give the fullest support,” he said.

Asked about Mahathir’s alleged links to the infamous Project IC, Shafie said the incident might have taken place during Mahathir’s first tenure as PM but he did not believe Mahathir was involved in the matter.

Project IC refers to the systematic granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants in Sabah in the 1990s.

“Just because of the incident we can’t deny his big contributions to our country. Tun has done a lot. Malaysia wouldn’t be like this without his contributions.

“Of course there are incidents like that during his tenure but how many officers from the National Registration Department were arrested during those days when he was PM?

“So don’t hurl accusations that it is done by him – I don’t think the PM has done that. People have also accused me of issuing identity cards (ICs)… do you think I (have the authority) to issue ICs?” Shafie said.

He said Mahathir is more open to Sabah now, hence, why he is chairing the special Cabinet committee to review and implement the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“We know we have limitations. Humans are not angels, we are not perfect and bound to make mistakes but here we are in the second round of him being the PM – he knows well, he’s listening a lot to us,” he said.