SEMPORNA: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pix) still regards Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as a good friend he will never forget although they have their political differences and are not in the same government.
Recalling their ups and downs in politics especially their dark period in UMNO in 2016, Mohd Shafie said what is certain now is that he himself had stayed consistent in his aim to topple Barisan Nasional (BN) and UMNO.
“I will remain his friend; he is an old friend of mine,” he said with a smile during an exclusive interview with Bernama at his residence here recently.
He was asked for his comment on the prime minister’s recent statement that he was sad that Mohd Shafie, whom Muhyiddin calls a good friend, was not with him in leading the government.
On June 24, 2016, UMNO suspended the membership of Mohd Shafie and expelled its then deputy president Muhyiddin and Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir. Mohd Shafie announced his resignation from UMNO 10 days after his suspension.
Mohd Shafie, who is Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president, said it would be awkward for him and his party to cooperate with a party that had been rejected by the people.
“There is no reason for us to cooperate with a party that has been rejected by the people. Cooperating with the party would cause us to be rejected by the people too,” said Mohd Shafie, who is leading Warisan into the 16th Sabah state election.
Asked on claims that Sabah would not be able to develop if the state and the federal government are not on the same page, he said this was a wrong view, citing examples on how previous state administrations led by local parties Berjaya and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) had cooperated with the BN-led federal government.
He said even at that time, many parts of Sabah districts were left far behind in terms of infrastructure development both in health and education.
“Let’s not talk about security in the coastal waters of the east coast; we say this is one area in Malaysia where sovereignty and security are constantly under threat, with its yearly number of robberies and kidnappings far higher than that in other parts of the country,” he said.
Instead, Mohd Shafie felt it is time for the state government to work with the federal government on a government-to-government (G2G) basis, without cooperating in the political arena.
He said being parked under a common political umbrella might make it difficult for the state to criticise or voice out for fear that some of its requests for seats and the like might not be met during election time.
“And this is what has happened now. If we just forge (G2G) cooperation without any (political) pact, we will have some freedom to express the voices of the grassroots,” he added.
He said regardless of who formed the state government, the federal government has a responsibility to ensure the security of Sabah as this was enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
“The federal government collects taxes from Sabah and Sarawak and a big part of its responsibility is to give back in various forms like building schools, safeguarding security, health, and this is stated in the constitution.
“If they do not do this, we can take them to court,” he said. -Bernama