KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal was in a combative mood today, issuing another strongly-worded warning to the Perikatan Nasional government amid the alleged political pressure being put on his elected representatives.
A visibly agitated Shafie spoke of how he would not relent in the face of PN’s “grand plan” to convince his MPs and assemblymen to ditch the Warisan-DAP-PKR-Upko state coalition and join them.
He said this grand plan involved promising political rivals positions and financial gains to join their ranks.
The Warisan president claimed that one of his MPs, Mohammadin Ketapi (Silam), had been contacted by former Umno federal minister Anifah Aman on three separate occasions to leave. Anifah is currently trying to cobble together local-based parties to merge under the soon-to-be-registered Gagasan Rakyat Sabah party.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Sabah MPs and assemblymen amid the political uncertainty, he said Mohammadin, who is in Kuala Lumpur now, had turned down the advances.
“But we know, the moment we say ‘no’, there will be political intimidation,” said the Semporna MP.
Shafie also questioned the timing of the money laundering probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Warisan’s vice-president Peter Anthony, who is the state infrastructure development minister.
“Why now? It will definitely not be so easy — we are going to fight back. This is our state and our country, we have every right.
“But you don’t try and pressure us. We have Parliament (this July) and I can tell you guys I’m not going to shut my mouth.
“Remember the last election when they intimidated us? I spoke in Parliament. Let it be heard by all Malaysians — is this the government that you want? Is this the way we run the country? This is unbecoming.
“Don’t disturb the state of Sabah; don’t disturb Sabahans. The moment you disturb, we will fight back,” Shafie said.
At the same time, the Senallang assemblyman reiterated his surprise at the timing of Anthony’s case with the acquittal of former chief minister Musa Aman’s on 46 money laundering and corruption charges.
“And what happened to the investigation into the Sabah Water Department case where millions of ringgit were found?”
On the meeting today, Shafie said most of the 47 elected representatives, including four nominated assemblymen, were in attendance and pledged their loyalty to the present administration, with the priority of developing the state.
Besides Mohammadin, those absent were Sepanggar MP Azis Jamman, Upko’s assemblymen James Ratib (Sugut), Limus Jury (Kuala Penyu) and DAP’s Calvin Chong (Elopura).
According to Shafie, Mohammadin could not come as he was moving house in Kuala Lumpur. The others apologised to him for being unable to attend as they had urgent matters to attend to although they had expressed their support for the state government.
Meanwhile, he hoped the MACC will not be biased and instead take proper action to look into the “efforts” to prise his elected reps away.
“How can you bribe people with positions and other perks? This should not happen,” he said, claiming other MPs from his state coalition have also been approached.
“I did not promise (Upko president) Wilfred Madius Tangau and Ewon Benedick with positions before (to switch allegiance from Barisan Nasional to Warisan) although I later appointed them as ministers.”
He added that he did not promise any reward to other assemblymen, who have joined Warisan from other parties.
As such, Shafie said all the leaders still with him, including the eight MPs from Warisan, three from DAP, two from PKR and one from Upko, had promised to remain firm behind the current leadership.
“We have our values and our pride.
“We are united in our stand. It’s time for Sabahans to stand firm and not be used as tools,” he said.
He said he had told current Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that he had no problem in working together with his administration on a government-to-government basis.
“But, politically, you run your party, I will run mine,” Shafie said.
‘Thanks for thinking of me’
In response, Anifah thanked Shafie for bringing up his name at his press conference but told him to focus on solving the people’s problems instead of finding fault with him.
Responding to Shafie’s claim that he had tried to convince Warisan’s Mohammadin to leave the party, Anifah said the Warisan president should be pondering on issues plaguing Sabahans, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am indeed touched by the chief minister for thinking about me and I thank him for mentioning my name despite being a pensioner,” he said in a statement.
“Although I do not hold any position at the state or federal level, my name is still being brought up. Maybe it’s because of the many contributions I gave to the country — that’s why he can’t forget my name.
“However, he should be thinking on issues such as reinvigorating the state’s economy amid the pandemic or think of better ways to defend Sabahans’ rights, as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution.
“Don’t let your promises be left as sweet promises.”
Anifah said he has many friends who always got in touch with him to ask for his opinion on politics, particularly on Sabah.
Despite not having any party now, he said his opinion mattered to many, possibly because of his experience in politics.
“Mohammadin is one of my friends whom I studied with in England and he asked for my opinion on Sabah.
“I told him that because the number of MP seats in Sabah and Sarawak is only 56, then we should at this time work with the federal government in efforts to regain our rights under MA63 and the Federal Constitution, in the interest of all Sabahans.
“I will say the same if any of my friends asked me. As someone who loves my state, I am more focused on this,” Anifah said.
As such, he said Shafie should be surrounded by honest and loyal people whom he trusted and not those who could be bought.
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