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Yong can’t be ignorant
Published on: Sunday, April 25, 2021
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Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee
DATUK Yong Teck Lee’s statement as published in the Daily Express on Thursday, 15 April, 2021 calling upon Tan Sri Harris to explain why Sabah was downgraded like any of the other states in 1976 is mischievous. 

Yong implied that Harris by agreeing to the downgrade was the reason why Sabah has remained poor in all aspects. 

It is recorded that Sabah is the poorest state in Malaysia even behind Kelantan. 

However, he failed to mention that Sarawak, was also downgraded to “state” and yet Sarawak is ranked one of the top eleven states in the Federation of Malaysia.

Sarawak is also one of the richest states in Malaysia with over RM30 billion in cash reserve. It is common sense, if Sarawak was downgraded the same time, how is it possible for Sarawak to be the richest state with more than RM30 billion in reserve.  Surely, Yong knows this fully well, as he is the one claiming to have done research on the Malaysia states.

Yong who is a lawyer and in politics and was Chief Minister of Sabah for two years cannot be ignorant of the Parliamentary democratic system of government. 

Sabah and Sarawak are well represented in Parliament and Parliament is supreme. Parliament can amend the Federal or state constitution with a two third majority. 

The eleven state governments cannot question decisions made by Parliament. Any law adopted by Parliament requires a simple majority, and once consented by the King, is enforceable by law.

Yong should be aware that Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore were one of the fourteen states in the Federation of Malaysia since its inception in 1963. 

The Prime Minister of Singapore attended Chief Ministers Conference as one of the fourteen states until 1965 when Singapore was expelled from Malaysia. The eleven states were ruled as ‘states’ till the amendment to make it eleven states. This went on for thirteen (13) years with no leaders from Sabah, Sarawak nor Yong himself ever mentioning.

The bureaucracy noticed and realised the Constitution provided for three partners (Sabah, Sarawak & Malaya), whereas the administration provided for eleven states, hence the amendment to the constitution in 1976.

Yong, having been a Chief Minister had the privilege of attending the Rulers Conferences, Chief Ministers Conference and rubbed shoulders with Rulers and leaders of the Federation, cannot claim ignorance of the administrative system of Malaysia. 

Amendments to the Federal Constitution must be initiated by the Prime Minister’s Department and the Attorney General with the Chief Secretary having prepared a Cabinet paper. Thereafter, the cabinet paper on the proposed amendment is tabled at the Cabinet meeting, and if adopted will be submitted at the Chief Ministers Conference, the Rulers Conference and only then to Parliament. 

Knowing the break neck speed at which government departments work, this whole process will definitely take years before a proposed amendment gets presented to Parliament. 

Hence, Harris must be right in that the proposal to amend the constitution that legally made Sabah and Sarawak ‘states’ in the constitution, MUST have been tabled long before 1976.

Also Harris had nothing to do with any amendment to the Federal Constitution, this can only be done by parliament with a two third majority. Yong and Sabahans must accept the decision of elected representatives. This amendment amended the pillar of Malaysia, which Sabah is a part of. It has nothing to do with abuse of power and corruption. 

However, if one was to scrutinise the adminitration during Yong’s Chief Ministership, four alleged scandals, which likely involve the abuse of power and corruption.

Firstly, the alienation of 2,000 acres of sea bed from Likas to Tanjung Aru. Secondly, the sale of 16,000 acres of oil palm plantation belonging to Sabah Land Development Board through the Bahamas, a renowned Tax Haven. 

He must explain why it could not be sold directly to the buyer. Thirdly, the purchase of North Borneo Timber shares by Amanah Sabah Berhad. 

Negotiations between the state and NBT had been ongoing for several months when NBT share price dropped to RM5. After a few days NBT share price reached RM37 then a few days later it dropped again to RM5. 

This resulted in Amanah Sabah losing hundreds of millions. Surely there is something wrong here.

The fourth issue involved selling 500,000 acres belonging to Yayasan Sabah which is part of 4,000 square miles of land (2,560,000 acres). Yong at that time was the Minister of Finance under Tun Sakaran and was also a member of the Sabah Foundation. 

Tan Sri Musa Aman who was then the Director of Yayasan Sabah met with Tun Mahathir and explained that Usno started the Foundation, Berjaya had not sold any area, and how Umno wanted to sell 500,000 acres to a Peninsular Berhad company. It was Mahathir who sent a note to Sakaran to stop the sale immediately.

Finally, apart from the politics, the downgrading or changes had little impact on the lives of people in Sabah or Sarawak. Life went on as usual.

Just like the lives of people in Likas and Sembulan which Yong represented for years. Their lives have also remained the same. There are still poor housing and economy.

It is hoped that future Sabah leaders not present emotional and anti Federal feelings. If this continues, the people will look to the day when they can be free to live and not be subjected to MA63 and the claims that the Federal Government had taken their rights.

I, as a historian need all this explanation and information to complete a history book I am thinking of writing.

A historian, Pulau Gaya

- As a matter of record, Yong responded to two of the allegations in a previous report, describing them as fiction. – Ed





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