Harris pours scorn on Mahathir’s rosy outlook

FMT Staff | May 6, 2012

KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh has accused Dr Mahathir Mohamad of duplicity during his 22-year tenure as prime minister, which saw the Bornean state rapidly fall from riches to rags.

Lashing out at the man who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1981 to 2003, Harris said in a statement that Mahathir was to be blamed for the current impoverished state Sabah is in.

“Had he mentioned and practised the rule of law, Sabah would remain the richest state,” Harris said in response to Mahathir’s lecture recently at Universiti Malaysia Sabah .

Harris was irked by Mahathir’s claim that Sabah, which was declared as the poorest state in the country by the World Bank, would take back its mantle as the richest Malaysian state soon.

Harris, who helmed the Berjaya state government from 1976 to 1985, said there were many instances when the former premier and the federal government had failed the state.

One instance, he cited, was the federal government’s disregard of an audit report by Price Water House that pointed to a RM4 billion shortfall in Yayasan Sabah accounts.

He said even when Mahathir announced the missing funds in 1994, alleging fraud, he failed as a prime minister to act through.

He had all the powers to correct any wrongdoings, recover the funds and prosecute the culprits, but did nothing.

“Anything announced by a prime minister is a serious matter. Since there was no action taken against the wrongdoers on the issue, the people take it for granted that the announcement by the then prime minister was just another political slogan to suit and pacify himself only,” he said.

If Mahathir proceeded according to the law, Harris said, the people of Sabah through the foundation, which was set up by the Usno government in the 1970s, would be richer by RM6 billion now.

‘Dr M knew about fraud’

Scoffing at the former premier’s rosy outlook for Sabah in the long term, he said Mahathir was merely pointing out that the state was rich in natural resources, a fact widely known.

Based on this fact, he said, Sabah and its people should have become rich many years ago as the state had been exporting its natural resources since the time of the British colonial government and right up to now.

“Unfortunately, nobody dare(s) to single out why Sabah is now the poorest state in Malaysia,” he said, adding that being endowed with natural resources does not automatically make a country and its people rich as could be seen around the world.

He said that an analysis would show that the state was mismanaged by successive governments and also because the authorities and voters had been turning a blind eye to corruption right up to the present day.

Harris added that the failure by the federal government to act, despite clear indications that something was not right in the management of state resources, only indicated that such corruption and fraud was condoned.

He also said that despite Mahathir’s optimistic outlook, there was no guarantee that Sabah would become rich anytime soon.

Harris also dismissed claims that Sabah’s rich natural resources would play a roll in helping to make its people rich as its oil and gas and oil palm lands are not in the hands of Sabahans.

“Oil and gas are controlled by non-Sabahans and this is also true for oil palm plantations. Therefore, there is not much left for Sabahans to do and carry out economic activities,” he said, pointing out that even workers in both sectors are mostly non-Sabahans.

Harris also said that while more than 90% of the cash from both sectors was already being siphoned off to Peninsular Malaysia, it was a “double-whammy” that the federal government had awarded gambling licences to certain companies.

This, Harris said,will further drain away half-a-billion-ringgit from the state based on figures gathered by the Sabah Chinese Chamber of Commerce 10 years ago.

Sabahans’ best bet under the current scenario, he said, was to gradually move from low income to middle income by planting cash crops and produce.

He added that the state should also export tapioca starch and chips which were in demand in China.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 1:02 pm

    Everyone knows….it is Mahathir that encourages corruptions and his 22 years as PM…has made UMNO b politicians greedy for money……more and more.
    It is Mahathir that planned to buy up the whole country with bribes and corruptions…stealing billions upon billions each year.
    And now…this man is twisting to confuse Malaysians.
    It is nice to see Harris Salleh…speak and expose the dirtiest politicians in Malaysia.
    It remains to be seen…how many more Malaysians can Mahathir …. keep fooling.
    Sabah Ex Chief Judge Ian said..Mahathir is the Devil …reincarnated.
    We must fight the devil and his followers with no fear.
    BERSIH 3 event was one effective way done.

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 1:13 pm

    Why then did Harris Salleh cede Labuan Island to the Federal government in the mid-80s? What did the state gain from that move? Did any individual gain from this move?

    Labuan Island and its surrounding resources should rightly go to the benefit of Sabah state.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 3:04 pm

    One can even blame Harris, among others, for Sabah’s current woes.

    The earlier USNO and then Berjaya governments ruled Sabah with an iron hand as if the state belonged to its leaders. They treated the people with disdain and even contempt.

    Harris sacked Joseph Pairin Kitingan as Minister and the latter then formed PBS which then swept to power in the mid-80s. The Kadazan-Dusun-Murut natives majority then were united in ruling Sabah but they decided to turn their backs on the federal government in the 1990 elections in their bid for greater autonomy. Who can forget their slogans ‘Sabah for Sabahans’ and ‘Sabahans Will Show the Way’ ?

    This irked the federal government which then sought the downfall of the natives-led government through possibly ‘Project IC’. The rest is history.

    Today, it is the foreigners who are the majority in the State now governed by UMNO. It is they who will determine the state’s direction. The natives are now a minority in their own state.

    So was it the high-handedness of the state’s earlier CMs that is one of the causes of the State’s current problems? Why did Harris Salleh pander to the wishes of Mahathir then? What was in it for him? Why is he complaining now?

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 6:04 pm

    Harris is as guilty as MMK n UmnoB/BN 4 impoverishing Sabahans, who deserved 2 b impoverished as long as they continue 2 vote 4 UmnoB/BN

  5. #5 by monsterball on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 8:07 pm

    yea..one crook after the other for this crook has a bone to pick with Mahathir too.
    No one respect Harris Salleh at all…but high profile politician … dares to speak against Mahathir will make headline news….and Salleh has the millions he stole to be be noticed again.
    Nice speech he made.
    All crooks do not unite as one…and that’s dangerous for Najib…right now.
    He needs billions to keep his crooks happy and contented.

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 7:29 am

    Is this bloke worth commenting on?

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