KOTA KINABALU - In reply to Pakatan de facto leader cum ex-Deputy PM Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim challenge to "leaders of Sabah-based parties" to openly declare that none of them ever benefitted through timber concessions, land and contracts," I hereby declare that, just like Anwar, I did not acquire any land, not even an inch, or timber concessions or contracts for myself.
To do so would have been a corrupt act. It is well known that upon the SAPP declaration of no confidence in Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi as PM in June 2008, that the MACC had conducted thorough, detailed checks on my term in office and even publicly threatened other leaders that they would face the same fate if they were to follow SAPP's lead in opposing the then Prime Minister. I have no fear because I know that my record is clean.
Federal leaders, including Anwar, should not use the excuse that just because some past State leaders had abused their powers, therefore Sabah cannot be trusted with autonomy. In the same breath, the federal leaders and leaders of Malaya parties in Sabah have little to show in terms of good governance.
As Anwar would remember, during my entire two years as Chief Minister from 28 May 1996 to 1998, Anwar was the Deputy Prime Minister and for the three months in mid-1997, was Acting PM. If there had been such abuses, Anwar would have known. In fact, Anwar should pose the same challenge to the PKR and DAP Sabah leaders. The same question should be posed to the DAP leaders in Perak Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming who reportedly acquired 25,000 acres of timber concession during their short term as members of the Perak State government.
On the other hand, in Sabah, it is a well document fact that 48,000 native land applications were resolved and a record number of the NT titles were issued during my term as CM.
What is most memorable is the mid-1997 incident at a Sandakan Sabah Hotel meeting between the acting PM Anwar and the Sabah Cabinet and some federal ministers, Anwar had protested to me that the Sabah government approved land to the Sabah Chinese Assembly Hall at Karamunsing and a number of schools. Never once, was any incident of award of land to myself as CM or any other cabinet members was raised because there was no such thing (abused of power in awarding lands to leaders).
It was the same dramatic incident that the issue of federal government trying to force the Sabah government to allow a federal gambling licence company to operate in Sabah. I proudly declare that Sabah stood our ground in rejecting a federal decision based on the right of the Sabah government to run our local government and to determine what businesses that are allowed by our local respective authorities.
By Yong Teck Lee, ex-CM Sabah 28 May 1996 to 27 May 1998