February 8, 2017: The Sabah government lacks political credential to face the
federal government on Sabah rights given the fact that the Sabah Rights
Review Committee is neither a Select Committee formed by the Legislative
Assembly, nor a Cabinet Committee.
SAPP President Datuk Yong Teck Lee said the statement by the Minister for
Special Tasks, Datuk Teo Chee Kang who heads the Sabah Rights Review
Committee, that there is “no united front on Sabah rights issue” because
of the absence of local parties at the recent committee hearing is an
admission that, without the strong input of Gabungan Sabah (United Sabah
Alliance) and local parties headed by experienced leaders, the committee
does not have the bite.
“By convention, the committee should be headed by a senior member of the
Cabinet with at least two other ministers.
“On the other hand, it is the leaders of Gabungan Sabah and local parties
who have been passionately fighting for Sabah rights and autonomy,” Yong
On the claim by Teo that the rejection of the opposition members’ motions
on Sabah rights in the Legislative Assembly has nothing to do with the
government, Yong contended that if that was really the case, then the
government should move a motion in the Legislative Assembly to form a
Select Committee on Sabah Rights to cover all outstanding matters.
“An Assembly Select Committee would necessarily consist of Assemblymen
from various parties. The report would be tabled back to the Assembly. In
this case, the Rights Review Committee will not become another farce like
the “missing in action” RCI Technical Committee chaired by the most senior
Deputy Chief Minister in the Sabah cabinet,” said Yong.
The heads of three local parties are members of the Legislative Assembly,
namely Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan of STAR, Datuk Wilfred Bumburing of
Parti Cinta Sabah and Datuk Lajim Ukin of Parti Harapan.
Yong also opined that the present Review Committee is only an afterthought
by BN leaders who are scratching their heads over how to respond to the
growing momentum of Sabahans demanding Sabah rights.
“Hence, a committee was hastily formed to give the impression that the
Barisan Nasional is doing something about Sabah rights, something that the
BN government has brushed aside with the notorious reply “apa mahu review,
review?” in the assembly,” he said.
He also dismissed Teo’s claim that the closed-door hearing of the
committee on Jan 26 was boycotted by the local opposition parties.
“Pending proof of sincerity and consistency on the part of the government
by openly promising that the government will no longer disallow the
motions of our assemblymen on Sabah rights, Gabungan Sabah (United Sabah
Alliance) and the four local parties had decided not to attend the
closed-door hearing of the committee on Jan 26. A “boycott” as mentioned
by the Minister never arose,” he said.
By Michael Teh
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