Anifah digs in on Shafie’s silence over Sabah claims

Sabahans want to know why Shafie was silent when the Philippines again laid claim to Sabah recently, not what he had done to stop the demand, says Anifah Aman.

PETALING JAYA: Former foreign minister Anifah Aman is sticking to his guns in calling out Parti Warisan president Shafie Apdal for his lack of action over a controversial tweet from a Philippine government minister on Sabah last month.

In response to the caretaker Sabah CM’s comments earlier today, asking Anifah what he had done as foreign minister on the issue of the Philippines’ claims on Sabah, the Parti Cinta Sabah president said only one issue was in question.

“Sabahans want to know why he (Shafie) was silent when the Philippines again laid claim to Sabah recently, not what he had done to stop the demand.

“Shafie could claim to have taken action over the sensitive matter all he wants but the question at the back of every Sabahan’s mind is why he, as chief minister, did not immediately respond to the latest demand made by the Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr in his tweet recently,” Anifah said in a statement.

On July 29, Locsin, had posted on Twitter: “Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines”.

Locsin was responding to a tweet from the US embassy in Manila that “hygiene kits given by a US aid agency were for use by returning Filipino repatriates from Sabah, Malaysia”.

Anifah accused Shafie of abdicating his authority as chief minister by getting his Warisan colleague, and former law minister, Liew Vui Keong, to respond to Locsin’s tweet.

“I’m not interested to know what you and your government did on this issue. What I asked was why did you remain silent. What were you afraid of?

“As the highest authority in Sabah you should have responded because Sabahans were getting anxious and angry over Locsin’s statement. You owe the people of Sabah an explanation for your silence,” he said.

In a previous statement, Anifah said Shafie’s silence had raised questions whether or not he was worthy to lead Sabah.

“Please don’t start telling us that you did this and that over the issue. What people want to know why were you silent at the time. Why did VK Liew have to respond?” Anifah asked.

He also slammed Shafie’s response to reporters today that he was too busy with the state elections, hence the Philippines claims on Sabah “was not a priority”.

“If the sovereignty of Sabah is not even your priority, and any action to demand your stand as chief minister is deemed as a propaganda, then you’re unfit to be a chief minister. Any chief minister in their right mind would be among the first to respond to a claim like that,” Anifah said.

He added that as foreign minister he had done everything to stop all kinds of demands and threats including the Philippines’ claims on Sabah.

“I had numerous meetings with my counterpart and they tried on numerous occassions to bring up this issue. I had also reminded my counterpart in the Philippine government that Malaysia had never recognised their claim and therefore there was nothing to be resolved.”

Anifah further rubbished Shafie’s claim that he did not do his job on matters regarding the claim, saying that he played a leading role when Malaysia brokered the Bangsamoro peace deal in 2016.

It was hoped that the peace deal would stimulate economic growth in the troubled Mindanao and with that it would discourage the people there from coming to Sabah.