Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cold war in Sabah UMNO??

Is there a cold war brewing within Sabah UMNO, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional government??

According to political observers, certain party leaders don't see eye to eye.

Certain leaders will not attend certain functions attended by certain other leaders..

This lead to public uncertainty on the current relationship between certain leaders of Sabah UMNO..

The local media has been reporting UMNO Vice President Datuk Shafie Apdal statements in which he categorically denied that he is power crazy or he has certain agendas while visiting various districts in Sabah in his capacity as the Federal Minister of Rural and Regional Development.

Shafie is the member of Parliament of Semporna in the east coast of Sabah and is the first ever Sabahan to be elected an UMNO Vice President - the third highest hierarchy in UMNO after the President who is the Prime Minister and Deputy President who is also the Deputy Prime Minister.

Sabah's leading English newspaper, the Daily Express reported on 18th May 2011 and 5th June 2011, Shafie's statement on this issue.

The Daily Express report on 18th May 2011 read like this :

Shafie denies ulterior motive in visits

Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal is disappointed that his series of visits to several constituencies in the State have been implied by certain quarters as an attempt at a power grab.

He said the issue should not have arisen because he was only carrying out his duty.

"As a Minister, I am only doing my job and the visits were to look at the problems of the people at the grassroots level," he said when officiating the Umno Semporna annual delegates conference at the Community Centre, here, Tuesday.

Also present were Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin who was the representative from the Sabah Umno liaison body, Minister in the Chief Minister's Department Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran, Pantai Manis Assemblyman, Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail and division committee members.

Shafie also reminded party members to strengthen unity and forget their differences in facing the 13th General Election.

He said Umno members must not think only about positions and, instead, to make the effort to ensure the BN government continues to get the mandate from the people.

And on the 5th June 2011, Shafie again issued this statement below after officiating the Papar UMNO delegates meeting :

Shafie denies the claims

Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has denied allegations that he is power crazy and planning to topple the present State leadership.

The Rural and Regional Development Minister said that on the issue of the so-called "cold war" among Umno leaders in Sabah, as far as he was concerned, he has no problem with other people.

"Unless they have problems with me," he said, when met after officiating the Umno Papar annual delegates' conference at Dewan Datuk Salleh Sulong, Saturday.

He was asked to comment on the statement by Umno Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin that the change in the Sabah Umno Youth leadership happened because of a "cold war" between Umno leaders in Sabah and them (Youth wing) being caught in the middle.

UMNO Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin

Former Sabah UMNO Youth Chief, Azman Ruslan

However, the following day, Sabah Umno Liaison deputy chairman Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak denied there was a "cold war" between certain leaders in State Umno.

"When I was Defence Deputy Minister, I used to come down to Semporna and when I was the Minister of (Domestic Trade and) Consumer I used to go to Semporna, too, until people claimed I only prioritise Semporna.

"So when I go to other villages, people say I want to overturn the government. How can it be because I want to build homes for the needy that I want to take over power?" he asked.

Shafie said it was up to the top leadership to make appointments because positions are not anybody's right nor it can be demanded although if given there should be no reason not to accept it.

"I am not saying that we must get this and not get that (because) this is up to the leadership," he said.

"Our position will not be forever and this is politics.

But I have no problems (with other Umno leaders)," he said, adding in this respect, he had proposed that major projects under his Ministry be launched by Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers to share the success.

Shafie said more importantly the leaders must resolve whatever problems they had in order to face the impending 13th General Election with confidence.

Earlier in his speech, Shafie said his Ministry was given the biggest allocation to the tune of more than RM16 billion to be channeled for development to all the states within three years.

"You say I am power crazy (but) my Ministry's allocation is so much bigger than the budget allocation for Sabah or Sarawak, Johor among others," he said.

Shafie said that as a Vice President of Umno he had been invited to officiate at several Umno divisional meetings in Semenanjung (peninsula) and there was no reason for him not to accept the invitation from Umno Papar.

"I am a man of clear conscience, I won't talk differently behind other people's back É it is important to be truthful, sincere and struggle for the people. To me politics is the best platform for us to work together and help the people."

He said one should not fear in fighting for the truth for the benefit of the rakyat as this was what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was doing through the reform exercises so that the people would support the government.

On the same day, Papar UMNO Division head Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail issued a strong statement that read like this :

PAPAR Umno division chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail said he will not back out from the struggle "to return Sabah Umno to its original political platform".

"Don't be surprised by the content of my speech today, everything is now out in the open," he told the delegates conference at Dewan Datuk Salleh Sulong that was officiated by Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Shafie, Saturday.

For this reason, he said, some could hate him and be angry at him, but not to his constituents in Pantai Manis, here.

"They also have the right to get all the facilities enjoyed by other people in the State, so don't punish my constituents," he said, adding his constituents expected him to do that, i.e. fight for them.

Rahim, who is also Pantai Manis Assemblyman, said all this while the State leadership had been feeling comfortable so much so taking for granted that the Barisan Nasional (BN) could win the general election easily because Sabah had been labelled as the ruling government's "fixed deposit".

However, he said fixed deposit when used as a political term should mean that the votes received by the BN is more than the previous one.

"But are we really confident of achieving this?" he asked. Rahim suggested that focus be given to the "Vote Bank" to ensure that BN is returned as government.

He cited Sarawak, which was also labelled as the fixed deposit of BN but could not stop the opposition taking away several seats in the recent election.

Political analysts stated that among the reasons was failure to listen to the people or Vote Bank who wanted change, he said, adding that based on the Election Commission (EC) statistics, 47 per cent of voters are young electorates.

"So we must listen to the younger generation," he said, adding there must not be any divide-and-rule.

Rahim also expressed disappointment that certain people were not taking pride in Sabahan Umno leader, Shafie Apdal, being an Umno Vice President.

He also said Shafie's noble intention of going on rounds in the State in his capacity as Rural and Regional Development Minister to look at how to channel assistance from Federal had received negative reactions and allegations.

"How will we face the 13th General Election if we continue to be suspicious?" he asked, adding that the people were now smarter because they could obtain knowledge as well as information easily from the Internet.

Rahim said it was also disappointing that certain development projects funded by Shafie's Ministry were being blocked.

He added that Sabah, which has the highest poverty rate in the country, really needs such assistance from Federal.

"Like the Chinese saying, genuine gold is not afraid of fire - and our genuine gold is Shafie," he said.

Rahim was wrong: Ministry

On 7th June 2011, the daily express reported that the State Rural Development Ministry categorically denied, Monday, the allegation by Papar Umno Division Chief Datuk Rahim Ismail that certain development projects funded by the Federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry are being blocked.

Datuk Ewon Ebin

On the contrary, its Minister, Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin, said the State is one of the highest achievers in terms of implementing projects under the NKRA, in particular rural roads, rural electrification programme, rural water supply and housing assistance programme for the hardcore poor.

Progress of such projects are briefed almost monthly at State and Federal level committees, namely at the Ministry of Rural Development chaired by him, at Rural and Regional Development Ministry chaired by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and at the Delivery Task Force meetings chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

He said the issue of blocking or non-implementation of such projects has never been brought up at these meetings and the State's implementing agencies have, in fact, been commended for achieving completion targets.

"Sabah's performance in completing the Housing Assistance Programme last year was almost 100 per cent where a total of 2,348 new housing units were built and 319 houses were repaired," he said.

This year, he said an allocation of RM103 million was approved for the construction of 2,439 new houses and to repair 77 houses.

He said all district officers in the State are currently implementing the projects and completion is expected to be according to schedule.

In fact, he said his Ministry has requested for more funds to build more houses for the hardcore poor but that the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development could only approve about RM103 million this year.

"Similarly, more funds have also been requested under the NKRA for rural roads, rural water supply and rural electrification programmes but perhaps due to financial constraints, not all requests were fulfilled," he said.

As for rural water supply, Ewon said the State Water Department is only authorised to tender and award projects for Class E and F contractors whereas those under Class D and above are decided by the Federal Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.

All rural electrification projects, he said, are decided by the same Ministry and implemented by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).

The Ministry of Rural Development has, in fact, successfully appealed to the Deputy Prime Minister for the installation of electrical wiring for poor households.

"About 16,000 poor households in the State will benefit from the scheme involving monthly instalment of only RM14.20," he said.

Hence, he said there is no truth whatsoever in the claims that the State is blocking of delaying any project approved by the Federal Ministry concerned.

"(In fact) the State Government welcomes more funds from the Federal Ministry concerned for the implementation of projects beneficial to the people of Sabah," he said.

Ewon said that there is also no truth in the claim by the Pantai Manis elected representative that his constituents are being punished.

He said Papar district is among the biggest recipients of poverty alleviation projects from the State Ministry of Rural Development including the implementation of Mini Estet Sejahtera (Mesej) project at Kampung Kinosoludon where 500 acres of rubber are being planted and housing project costing RM3.9 million is under construction.

"The State Ministry also approved allocation amounting to RM517,700 last year and RM346,500 this year for the implementation of minor rural development projects in the district," he said.

To these leaders i say.. keep it cool.

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