Sabah leaders didn’t complain: Dr M
Published on: Saturday, August 17, 2019
By: James Sarda
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Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Dr Mahathir and AirAsia X Chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz visit AirAsia RedQ in Sepang. On the right is Tony Fernandes.
Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he is surprised to learn that Sabah Government leaders have been complaining about not being consulted on recent decisions taken at the Federal level.

Responding to a Daily Express question that as a Pakatan Harapan-friendly government their views should at least have been sought or considered on major decisions like the departure levy, appointment of the new Universiti Malaysia Sabah Vice Chancellor and introduction of Jawi in primary schools next year, he said:

“As far as I’m concerned, they (Sabahan representatives in the Federal Cabinet) did not say anything.”

He was non-committal at this stage on whether Sabah can expect a bigger allocation in the coming budget and if there is positive news for Sabahans and Sarawakians on the review of the rights and privileges accorded to the two Borneo states under the Malaysia Agreement with Malaysia Day (Sept. 16) approaching.

However, he said Sabahans and Sarawakians should get rid of the notion that “Sabah is for Sabahans” and “Sarawak is for Sarawakians” if the nation is to move forward.

“I would like to remind everyone that we may live in Sabah, Sarawak or peninsula but we are all Malaysians. 

“The idea of Sabah for Sabahans, Sarawak for Sarawakians and peninsula for Peninsular Malaysians is not healthy. We must always think of ourselves as Malaysians.”

On the action to be taken against controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik for making allegedly racial and religious remarks that hurt the Indians and Chinese communities in Malaysia, he said it is better to wait for the police investigations to be over.

“He has a Permanent Resident status. We can take that away if he does something detrimental to the wellbeing of this nation. Police are investigating if that is the case.

“We will take action to prevent him making such speeches which pit the races against each other,” said Dr Mahathir.

Asked if he would make Dr Zakir apologise to the nation if it was true he hurt Malaysians through his remarks, Dr Mahathir said he did not think this would assuage the anger of the people.

Dr Mahathir, who was speaking during an official visit to AirAsia’s Red Q headquarters, a walking distance from the Terminal Two that it operates, said there is nothing much to talk about the troubled Malaysia Airlines at the moment that has lost billions of ringgit over the years.

He reiterated that many proposals on turning it around are on the table and would consider all the proposals.

He also said he did not approve of Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad and AirAsia going to the court to settle their problems over the management of the airport terminals, suggesting that discussing it outside the court was still the best option.

As for AirAsia’s complaint that it is unfair for the Transport Ministry to make budget travellers pay the same rate in exit tax effective September as those travelling in full service careers, he said there were merits in that and would study the request.

“At the moment, it is one level of tax for everyone but not everyone is the same. So we have to take that into consideration,” he said.

On a similar note, he expressed hope that Malaysia can become a hub for aviation and aerospace in the region and that the Kuala Lumpur International Airport is ideal for that.

He said KLIA has 25,000 acres and although this was factored for the sake of future expansion when built in 1998, budget travel was not the reason as “we had no low-cost airline then.”

“We thought when we reached 25 million passengers it will be a new satellite town. Before we could do that we had a low cost airline and had to build a new terminal.”

He said this was obvious because travelling was expanding and had to follow the trend.

In view of this, he said, even KLIA’s 25,000 acres may not be enough and it may be necessary to open up other centres in Malaysia.

He said there are tremendous opportunities in the aerospace business and that we should go into it as quickly as possible, noting that even Airbus has forecast demand for 5,000 aircraft and the supply chain offers Malaysian manufacturers a chance to get a piece of the cake by making airline parts.

He cited the case of Boeing parts made in Singapore being sent to Malaysia for the finishing and the quality of work being excellent.


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