Sabah ex-CM warns against bringing back federal development dept

Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee reminds PPBM leaders not to be short-sighted in calling for revival of the federal department in Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee has opposed a suggestion by Sabah PPBM to revive the state Federal Development Department (JPPS).

The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president said his party is “strongly against” the proposal because the existence of JPPS is contrary to the long-term interests of Sabah.

“Although I am no supporter of the current Warisan-led Sabah government, I want to remind PPBM leaders not to be short-sighted.

“The revival of JPPS might be convenient for today’s leaders of PPBM, which is the party of the current prime minister, but JPPS can also turn into a monstrous ‘federal government sitting in Sabah’.

“This can be detrimental to coherent planning and implementation of both federal and state development programmes in Sabah,” Yong said in a statement here today.

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal earlier today dismissed the suggestion by Sabah PPBM chief Hajiji Noor, saying this would be tantamount to giving up state rights.

He said the call by Hajiji was not what the people wanted, nor was it in line with the state’s efforts in the devolution of powers from the federal government.

Yong said the state’s political struggle should not be based on short-term political considerations.

He said the whole idea of a federal system is that the state government and the federal government should mutually recognise and respect each other.

“This constitutional federal arrangement should not be disturbed simply because of the misalignment of political parties of the day.

“Any political misalignment can be overcome if we are sincere in serving the higher interests of the people.

“In any case, political opponents today can become allies tomorrow and vice versa as Malaysians have seen last week.

“There is no doubt that a strong state-federal political relationship is beneficial for the development of Sabah and the nation. But that (political relationship) is a matter for the ruling parties of the day to manage with tact and professionalism,” he said.

Yong reminded PBBM that the idea of a JPPS also contradicts the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in that a JPPS within Sabah will undermine the autonomous governance of Sabah by Sabahans.

He added the prime minister has vowed that his government will honour MA63 and has even appointed a Sabahan — PBS president Maximus Ongkili — to head a ministry to oversee the full implementation of MA63.

“Hajiji Noor had justified the revival of JPPS for the successful implementation of federal projects in Sabah. He had used the era of PBS rule, which was in opposition to the federal government from 1990 to 1994.

“Let me remind Sabah PPBM leaders, all of whom were in the Sabah BN government before, that after BN took over the state government in 1994, the Sabah Cabinet had tirelessly tried to get the federal government to dissolve JPPS,” he said.

Yong said JPPS was initially downsized to handle only mega projects and to stop handling small projects and village projects.

“It was only after the BN government had lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament that the federal government finally conceded and closed down JPPS.

“There is a saying that it is easier to allow someone into your home but very difficult to get him out.”

On Sabah PPBM’s proposal to create federal-appointed village development and security committee (JKKK), Yong said the local authorities and village administration should be under the jurisdiction of the Sabah government.

Even at the height of the Umno-led BN federal government and the Sabah PBS opposition government, from 1990 to 1994, the then federal government had refrained from interfering in the administration of local authorities and villages in Sabah.

“If this federal government were to do so now, it would show that federal interference in Sabah is worse than before. I believe that this is not the intention of the current prime minister,” he said.

In fact, the setting up of the federal village community management council (MPKKP) by the then Pakatan Harapan government caused much agitation in Sarawak as they viewed it as a federal political tool that will cause permanent division among the Sarawak people.

This was one reason that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had totally rejected the PH parties, Yong added.