Sabahans mixed on Mahathir's apology

Jason Santos

Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad looking at the audience at the party's annual general meeting yesterday. Sabahans have met the Pakatan chairman's open apology made at the meeting with mixed reactions. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, December 31, 2017.

DR Mahathir Mohamad’s open apology for his past misdeeds at the Bersatu annual general meeting was met with mixeds reaction among Sabahans, with some ready to forgive the former prime minister, while others do not.

For some, Dr Mahathir is known for his use of the oppressive Internal Security Act (ISA), where no leaders were allowed to speak on the special rights of the state for fear of being jailed.

For most of Sabah’s youths, knowledge on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Internal Governmental Report, which deals with east Malaysia’s special rights, were also blurred through public education.

Dr Mahathir was also blamed for his role in flooding the state with illegal immigrants and providing them with Malaysian citizenship under the so-called Project IC.

Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN) president Henrynus Amin said it was due to such misdeeds suspicions against Dr Mahathir remain.

“Many Sabahans are still suspicious of his intention, even among those in the opposition fold, although Mahathir may be sincere in making the apology,” he said.

Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) president Jeffrey Kitingan, who was detained in 1991 under the ISA, still consider himself as one of Mahathir’s political detainees for raising the special rights of the state.

Jeffrey was detained for his alleged role for trying to initiate secession. He was detained along with five PBS members and a police officer under the operation codenamed Operation Talkak.

In many of his speeches, Jeffrey constantly shared his experience with the former premier, although noting he was not a politician at the time of his detention.

“Dr Mahathir called me one day and told me that I should not go around telling people what they don’t know. He just doesn’t like me raising the Sabah rights issue under the 20 points agreement,” he said.

However, he maintained his intention was not to secede, but to raise awareness among Sabahans on the special rights of the state.

“He wants everything to be centralised, even land. He was against state rights. The irony is, today, he speaks of his willingness to respect and restore Sabah’s rights. Is he serious or just playing politics?” Jeffrey asked.

Jeffrey who had anticipated that Mahathir would one day atone and redeem himself for his past actions against the Borneo states, was also suspicious of the Pakatan Harapan chairman’s changed of tone.

Under the Sabah and Sarawak PH manifesto, the opposition coalition vows to return 50% of the revenue collected by the federal government from the state, and lift east Malaysia’s status to be equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.

Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking during the party's annual general meeting yesterday. The Pakatan chairman made an open apology for his past misdeeds during his speech, which Sabahans met with mixed reactions. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, December 31, 2017.

Meanwhile, Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) deputy president Darell Leiking said the apology was a symbolic gesture of Dr Mahathir’s effort to end Umno.

“Perhaps Dr Mahathir will be the only leader who had lived long enough to apologise for his mistake. But have we given much thought as to why he is issuing an apology now?

“The 93-year-old is the one who created Umno Baru and he is planning to end the life of his own creation. This is the reason he is doing all this,” he said.

Dr Mahathir formed Umno Baru in 1989 to replace the original party that was formed in Johor Baru on May 11, 1946, which had been declared invalid by the Kuala Lumpur high court in 1988.

According to him, Dr Mahathir wants to correct all of BN’s misdeeds and introduced a new multiracial government.

A political, bystander who identified himself as Bob Munang, meanwhile said the Project IC which Dr Mahathir allegedly masterminded was aimed to end PBS rule in the 90s.

“Dr Mahathir was fed with false information about PBS, which had been accused as anti-Islam or anti-federal. This was among Dr Mahathir’s mistakes as he may have taken it as the truth.

“Despite the entire federal government machinery being abused to topple PBS, the party went on to win the 1986, 1990 and 1994 elections. The victory in 1994 was short-lived due to the defection of several PBS leaders,” he said.

He said Project IC was soon forgotten after Sabah Umno took control of the state, and this can be proven by the number of Umno seats in Sabah at present.

Munang was referring to the 32 Umno state seats and 14 parliamentary seats in Sabah where Muslims often form the majority and where migrants are aplenty. – December 31, 2017.

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  • Sabahan leaders is trapped by their own thinking. What Mahathir did with Project IC and destroying MA63 is now what opened the door to UMNO -PAS cooperation. Now only Sarawak stands freely to stop full joining of UMNO-PAS, it will never be enough. Restoring Sabah and Sarawak rights is about stopping Hadi's PAS and the theocratic state. Sabahan leader should instead get Mahathir to admit it and agree.

    Posted 6 years ago by Bigjoe Lam · Reply