KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today said Sabah would continue to give its support to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
However, the Warisan president said the state would also work together with whoever leads the federal government to ensure that Sabah and its people continue to benefit in terms of development and other matters like health, education and security.
“After meeting with all the Sabah assemblymen and MPs for over 45 minutes, our stand is to continue supporting Mahathir,” he told reporters amid applause from the elected representatives at his office here.
This is the first time Shafie has publicly spoken on the state’s allegiance since PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the eighth prime minister last Sunday.
“I hope he (Muhyiddin) understands, I have nothing against him as he is my friend and has long been with us,” Shafie said.
He said the state administration is committed to maintaining the government-to-government relations but in terms of political affiliations, it is clear their backing goes to Mahathir.
“There was a time I said to (former prime minister) Najib Razak, when he was my friend then, that I will support Mahathir. But there must be some clarity in being a politician.
“I cannot be bogged down by politics in the peninsula until it hinders the position and future of Sabahans.
“We have to focus our time on developing the state. For me, the priority is Sabah and its people,” Shafie said.
To a question that Sabah, being an opposition government now, will not obtain the funds to continue its development, the Semporna MP said Kelantan had been an opposition state for 20 years before this but was still administered well.
On Sabah rights and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 demands, he said Sabah is still negotiating with the federal government to claim what was promised to them.
“The new government is not properly formed yet. We still don’t know who will look after oil, housing and education (among others)
“Nonetheless, we already have the Sabah rights agenda. As an opposition state, we will solidify this and we will continue,” Shafie said.
He saw no problem continuing the discussions as Sarawak, which was an opposition state during Pakatan Harapan’s time in government, attended the menteri besar/chief ministers’ meetings as well as on MA63 negotiations.
“Discussions should continue and promises must be delivered.”
When asked on speculation that MPs were being lured to the other side, Shafie said he was not worried.
“I can’t control the elected reps. We are not forcing them to remain with us. When I formed the state government, I didn’t ‘buy’ people.
“But I know my friends. They have made their stand. They must look after Sabah and its people.”
Pressed further whether he was worried about horse-trading with the Parliament sitting being deferred to May, Shafie left it to his leaders.
“What do you want as an elected rep? Is it for you to get a job, wealth or is it for you to help the country and people?
“If there’s clarity in our values, it will be easier to make a decision, if not things will go topsy turvy. I do feel strongly that we in Sabah will remain intact,” he said.
The Warisan-PH-Upko coalition government has a total of 43 assemblymen. The opposition bloc, comprising PPBM, PBS, STAR and Umno, has 17.
The ruling coalition also has five nominated assemblymen.