SABAH caretaker chief minister Mohd Shafie Apdal still regards Muhyiddin Yassin as a good friend, despite their political differences and the fact that they are not in the same government.
Recalling their ups and downs in politics, especially their dark period in Umno in 2016, 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 in Semporna recently.
He was commenting on the prime minister’s recent statement that he was sad that Shafie, whom Muhyiddin also called a good friend, was not with him leading the government.
Shafie, who is also Warisan president, said it would be awkward for him and his party to cooperate with Umno, a party that has 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 Shafie, who is leading Warisan into the 16th Sabah elections.
On claims that Sabah will not be able to develop if the state and federal governments are not on the same page, he said this was a wrong view, citing examples of previous state administrations led by local parties Berjaya and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), which had cooperated with the BN-led federal government.
However, he said even then, many parts of Sabah 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.
Shafie said it was 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 its views for fear that some of its requests for seats and the like might not be met during elections.
“And this is what is happening now. If we just forge (a G2G) cooperation without any (political) pact, we will have some freedom to express the voices of the grassroots.”
He said regardless of which parties form the state government, the federal government has a responsibility to ensure the security of Sabah as 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 in the constitution.
“If it does not do this, we can take it to court,” he said.