So, did federal ministers from Sabah speak up or were they ineffective?

I refer to a FMT report of Aug 20 that a local Sabah daily had apologised for misreporting a quote by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Looking at the Daily Express report as a whole, there was no misreporting as the report (“Sabah leaders didn’t complain”) did not materially depart from the gist and spirit of what the prime minister had said.

The Prime Minister’s Office’s clarification that Mahathir was not referring to Sabahan federal ministers does not depart from the core issue that he was not aware of Sabah’s unhappiness about not being consulted on issues like the departure tax, the appointment of the Universiti Sabah Malaysia vice-chancellor and the introduction of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools.

All that the ministers needed to do was to say how they had been speaking out on Sabah issues and what they had said.

The minsters’ overreactions show their discomfort at the prime minister’s remarks that Sabah leaders had not spoken up on Sabah issues. The Sabah people want to see the fulfilment of the promises of the government to Sabah.

The Sabah media’s role is to ask our ministers about their public duties.

The prime minister’s revelation that leaders from Sabah did not complain about the serious issues affecting Sabah shows his state of mind — that he had no impression of Sabah representatives speaking out on Sabah issues.

Maybe our Sabahan federal ministers and our Sabah government did try to speak up but they must have done so ineffectively which explains why the prime minister said Sabah leaders had not complained about Sabah issues.

Ministers cannot simply deny knowledge of government policies and actions. Ministers are at the top of the decision-making process. They exercise collective responsibility. The ministers must share responsibilities in the same way that they share power in government.

Ministers cannot have the luxury of claiming to be influential or powerful and yet at the same time deny responsibility for the policies and actions of the government.

If, as implied by ministers Darrel Leiking and VK Liew, that they had spoken out, then how is it that the Jawi calligraphy introduction and departure tax, among others, have been imposed on Sabah?

Does this mean that the ministers agreed with the departure tax, Jawi calligraphy and other issues affecting Sabah? Or does it mean that the ministers’ voices were not effective? Which is which?

Yong Teck Lee is the SAPP president and a former Sabah chief minister

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.