SHAFIE Apdal has thrown his support behind Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the next prime minister, saying the Pakatan Harapan chairman is the only leader capable of getting Malaysia out of its current debt crisis.
The Parti Warisan Sabah president said the ability of the 92-year-old was proven when he helped Malaysia weather the Asian financial crisis in 1997.
“He knows how to get the country out of trouble. Dr Mahathir has the experience. We don’t need to know his age, but we still need his knowledge and experience to bring Malaysia out of a debt trap.
“The national debt is growing and it is just a matter of time when the government will no longer have the finances to settle its debts,” he told a crowd of 2,000 supporters at the “Bicara Pemimpin Warisan” in Kadamaian, Kota Belud yesterday.
In urging the crowd to forget their grudge against Dr Mahathir, Shafie said Sabahans need to look beyond their grudge to bring about “big change” in the 14th general election.
Dr Mahathir has been blamed for flooding Sabah with migrants from the Philippines and Indonesia by legalising them through “Projek IC”.
Many Sabahans still believe that “Projek IC” was to allow the migrants to vote for Umno in the 1990s.
Shafie said even Dr Mahathir’s former foes like DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim were able to set aside their differences for a bigger goal, that is to oust the Barisan Nasional government.
Shafie also pointed out that it is Dr Mahathir who now wants to destroy Umno, the party which he had established when the old Umno was de-registered in 1988.
“Lim was Dr Mahathir’s arch-enemy and Anwar was the man he put in jail when he was prime minister. Yet, they can still accept him now. They also support him as the next prime minister.
“People make mistakes and Dr Mahathir has apologised. His apology has been accepted by Anwar and Lim. They accepted his apology because it’s for Malaysia and Malaysians, as well as the need to change the current regime,” he said.
Shafie said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government implemented the goods and services tax (GST) because of the country’s rising debts, adding, there was no need to implement a regressive tax regime.
“More importantly, if the government can manage the country’s finances properly, there is no need for the GST, which is being collected at every level of the business system,” he said.
Shafie, an economics graduate, said there were other mechanisms the government can use to generate revenue.
He was the rural and regional development minister before he was sacked from the federal cabinet in July 2015 for criticising Prime Minister Najib Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal. He then quit Umno in July 2016 to form Warisan.
Pledge to abolish GST
Shafie, who is Semporna MP, told the crowd that if Warisan formed the Sabah government, one of the things it will do is to abolish the GST and will work with Pakatan Harapan to achieve this goal.
He reiterated, however, that Warisan will not join the coalition chaired by Dr Mahathir, but will support them to bring down the BN government.
“Warisan is a party for Sabahans. We are not tied to any coalition. We are not joining PH. I have not signed any arrangement with Dr Mahathir.
“I have informed Dr Mahathir that PH will see to the ousting of BN in Peninsular Malaysia and I will do the same in Sabah,” he said.
Shafie said Warisan has a clear goal to transform Sabah like Sarawak, where only local parties have absolute power in the state.
“Tun (Dr Mahathir) had offered me a vice president’s post in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. But I refused. I want a party for Sabahans. I’ve had enough of following Umno (a national party based in the peninsula),” he said.
Shafie had previously said Sabah Umno was unable to bring autonomy to the state as its leaders were afraid to do anything that would offend the party’s national leaders.