Sabah’s takeover of SESB put on hold by PN govt, claims Shafie

Sabah surrendered its power over Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd to Tenaga Nasional Bhd 34 years ago. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah caretaker chief minister Shafie Apdal says the return of utility company Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) was disrupted after Perikatan Nasional (PN) took over power at the federal level.

Speaking to reporters after an event in the Kunak east coast district yesterday, he said negotiations began during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure as prime minister.

He said everything was going well until the change of government earlier this year.

“There have been continued electricity disruptions and villages without any power at all. That is why I discussed with Mahathir – I told him I wanted to take back SESB,” he said.

Shafie Apdal

Adding that it was better for Sabah to handle the matter itself, he said Mahathir had agreed to the plan.

“Unfortunately, I was made to understand yesterday that the present federal government has put it on hold.”

The state surrendered its power over the company to Tenaga Nasional Bhd 34 years ago.

In January last year, Yeo Bee Yin who was energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister at the time said the federal Cabinet had agreed to start the process of returning ownership of SESB to the Sabah government. She also said the process would take about two years to complete.

In September, Yeo’s deputy minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said the process was going well, and that due diligence was being done. She also said most of the issues that needed addressing were technical matters.

Speaking today, Shafie said the state would continue pursuing the matter.

“We hope this can be continued to ensure that the takeover (is completed), although it would cost a lot, because I don’t want our people to be in darkness,” he said.