KOTA KINABALU: It was a rather rough day for opposition assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan at the State Legislative Assembly sitting here yesterday as he had to fight just to be heard through the raucous interruptions from government lawmakers.
The State Reform Party (Star) Sabah chief had barely started his speech, asking where the wealth of Sabah from the oil revenue had gone when Sekong Assemblyman Samsuddin Yahya interrupted him to seek an explanation from him.
The assemblyman for Bingkor managed to continue a little later only to be interrupted by Deputy Chief Minister and Petagas Assemblyman Yahya Hussin asking for a clarification saying he was making a sweeping statement when he said Sabahans are poor.
Jeffrey reaffirmed this saying the people in Sabah are poor if judging from how wealthy in resources the state is with revenue from oil last year amounting to RM28 billion and Sabah only getting RM1.4bil of it.
“It is okay, but the other RM26 billion … who is getting that … who profited it. The same with the tax, where the country is expected to get RM40 billion (from Sabah) this year. This means Sabah is capable for producing RM64 billion altogether,” he said.
At this point Yahya, joined by Pantai Manis Assemblyman Abdul Rahim Ismail, interrupted him again. Abdul Rahim said he used Order 43 citing Jeffrey’s command of the language and hinting at a hidden agenda.
“Speaker, he (Jeffrey) is different from the others. He is so extraordinary but not that smart,” said Abdul Rahim, adding Jeffrey had in an article in published in the news portal, Malaysiakini, had spoken about very sensitive matters.
Abdul Rahim said the the article contained elements that could incite the people of Sabah to favour a pull out from Malaysia, which he (Abdul Rahim) considered treasonous.
“This kind of a person should not be in this House … he deserves to be in jail,” he said, while asking Jeffrey not to make statements that would incite people to hate the government.
As he was about to resume his speech, Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Siringan Gubat interrupted him.
A bit exasperated, Jeffrey said he was surprised why state leaders did not want to claim the state rights.
Samsuddin Yahya chipped in to ask why Jeffrey and his supporters were using as their political vehicle a party that was formed in Sarawak and not one from Sabah, to which Jeffrey replied that both Sabah and Sarawak have similar rights and standing in Malaysia so both could claim their rights in Malaysia.
“So what is wrong for me to use a party from Sarawak as you (Samsudin) are using a party from Malaya,” he said.
Chastened, Samsudin retorted that Jeffrey himself had been in the Barisan Nasional government and as such was a hypocrite.
Jeffrey refused to be drawn and instead spoke on the the escalating prices of goods and services that he said were burdening the people of Sabah who were already poor.
Tamparuli Assemblyman Wilfred Bumburing joined his attack on the government by asking why they were being so sensitive with the issue of poverty in the state which was obvious to everyone.
Abdul Rahim again interrupted and that led to another exchange of words because jJeffrey uttered the word “barang” Jeffrey which was seen as a crude word.
Jeffrey then touched on the poor road conditions in Sabah, but Samsuddin interrupted him asking him whether he agreed that an advanced state like Selangor had no water. Jeffrey replied: “If Selangor didn’t have water, the people would have died by now,” provoking laughter in the House.
Jeffrey went on to ask why the money for building a water treatment plant in Keningau was in the form of loan when the money should have come from the state’s oil revenue.
He went on to ask what the state government was going to do to settle the issue of its oil revenue that was now going into the federal coffers.
While referring to this month’s kidnapping of two women from a resort in Semporna, Gum Gum Assemblyman Zakaria Edris interrupted him to ask about his relationship with a Sultan of Sulu, Sultan Kiram.
Unphased, Jeffrey replied that the Sultan was a member of Umno and he has a proof of this.
He then touched on the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) and questioned if the Federal Government was providing sufficient allocation to enable it to perform better.
After several more interruption, Chief Minister Musa Aman stood up and invited Jeffrey to come and see so he can give him an explanation on whatever he intended to know and not make statements to mislead the House and insult its members.
Speaking to reporters later, Jeffrey said he was really disappointed that he was not allowed to speak and present his views fully because of continuous interruption.
He said that it seemed the BN members all had closed minds and were on the defensive every time he spoke up for the state, and instead accusing him of having ill intentions.
“I think this is a very bad reflection of mindset of the people who seem to be very defensive all the time. They are not opening up their minds,” he said.
“And, when they are not opening their mindset, we will not be able to see any progress…because they are not going to admit that there is a problem, they are not going to admit there is a mistake, and thus will continue with their mindset the way they have been tuned all these years,” he said.
Jeffrey said he was also very disappointed the Chief Minister also lost his temper and composure in the House and said a lot of things as if “he is a man that just comes out from somewhere, without any dignity.”
“Without any respect to the House. You may be the Chief Minister but you cannot point at people like that in the House and ask people to sit down in there, because you are not the chief of the House, you are not the Speaker but just one of the members of the House,” he said.
Jeffrey said he was disappointed because he and others like him, as the elected representatives of the people, were not allowed to express the truth about our problems and what the people wanted them to express in the House.
“We are not allowed to do that in the House because they are so narrow-minded…what we can say outside we cannot do in the House … it is the opposite,” he said.
“We are supposed to be more opened, democratic and we are protected…so what the House is for then? What is the use of it?
“The purpose of the House is to discuss the problem of the rakyat, the country, and to find solutions. It means it has to be open, democratic and accommodative instead of (being) restrictive like the way we were being treated,” he added.
He said he was more surprised that even veteran politicians did not behave in a dignified manner.
“I have done my duty … I have tried to do my duty for the people … to convey what the problems are … what needs to be resolved, for the benefit of the country and the people. It is not for my benefit,” said Jeffrey.
Frustrated that he did not manage to finish his debate speech because of the many interruptions, he nevertheless said there was some positive things that had been accomplished.
“The Chief Minister agreed to discuss privately my suggestion of how we should go about reclaiming some of rights particularly the oil,” he said.
He said he would pursue that and hope it would be a proper discussion because “I actually just want to help”.
On his rejected three motions, Jeffrey explained it were rejected on the excuse that he did not mention under what Order he was submitting the motions and after he took it back and re-submitted it he was told he was late.
“Actually I went personally to the office to discuss my motion. I told them I want to table it under Order 23 (1) which is an emergency motion where we do not need to stand up…so it is not correct that I did not follow the procedures because I followed the proper procedures,” he said.
“It is not late, because I went to submit the motions two weeks before, and then re-submit it two days before and it actually only needs to be submitted 24 hours earlier.”
Source: Google Syndication