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7:36pm 19/01/2022
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UEC recognition: action is more important than promise, says Shafie

PETALING JAYA, Jan 19 (Sin Chew Daily) – Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal feels that education has nothing to do with race or religion but to disseminate knowledge to the young generation.

Shafie Apdal (R) with Sin Chew Daily editor-in-chief Kuik Cheng Kang, during his visit to Sin Chew’s headquarters in PJ. SIN CHEW DAILY

Action more important than words

Because of that, he said he proposed to recognize the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) in the cabinet when Pakatan Harapan was in power.

However, he agreed that it is much more important to do something than just to say it. As such, he took the lead in Sabah instead of just making an empty promise because this is how trust is built.

Then Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal announced in September 2019 that the state government had decided to recognize the UEC certificate on condition of a credit in SPM Bahasa Malaysia and a pass in history and MUET (Malaysian University English Test).

During his visit to Sin Chew Daily’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, Shafie said the federal government might think that UEC recognition contravenes the country’s education policy. As such, when he was the chief minister, he appointed an education minister, the first time such a post existed in the Sabah state cabinet since the establishment of Malaysia. Indeed, Sabah was also the first state in the country to have an education portfolio.

He insisted that the move was meant to ensure that education would not be neglected in Sabah while institutionalizing financial assistance for vernacular schools.

He said when he was the chief minister, the state government allocated RM43 million to vernacular schools, and Sabah was the first state to have recognized the UEC, even before Penang. It took him only one year to do that!

“In my hometown, although 60% to 70% of SJKC students are non-Chinese, they all can speak Mandarin.

“Learning other people’s language doesn’t mean you will lose your ethnic identity.”

Shafie is of the opinion that education can be delivered in a number of ways, citing that even Prophet Muhammad agreed that Muslims could go to China to learn the knowledge.

No to racial politics

A very senior politician in the country, Shafie has served in seven different ministries, including the defense, domestic trade and consumers affairs as well as rural development ministries, with over 30 years of service in the federal government.

When asked why he did not join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) but founded Warisan instead, he said when Tun Mahathir offered him Bersatu deputy president post, he was already sick of racial politics and thought it was time to look forward.

Having before held many senior positions in Umno, Shafie said he could clearly see the party’s dominant role.

He said when Bersatu was helmed by Mahathir and DAP by Lim Kit Siang, the former was perceived as a racist among the Chinese, while the latter was seen as a racist by the Malays.

He said he had many old friends in MCA and MIC, and knew that these race-based parties had been fighting for the interests of their own communities, which was not wrong, but shouldn’t have gone beyond the provisions of the Federal Constitution, including fair treatment in education.

When asked about the response for Warisan’s spread to West Malaysia, Shafie said he was not worried, even though it wasn’t easy to go multiracial.

He said Warisan deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking is a Christian while vice president Datuk Junz Wong is a Chinese.

He also said the rakyat should vote for their candidates based on their service record and not their ethnicity.

“Must DAP always win in Penang just because majority of the people are Chinese? Not necessarily!”

He felt such a mentality would not change this country.

“When I was studying in London in the 70s, I could not imagine that a Pakistani could become London’s mayor one day. We know that Barack Obama later became the US president while the current vice president is a woman.

“We did not die when Sabah was ruled by the Chinese, people like Yong Teck Lee and Chong Kah Kiat!”

Shafie denied the allegation that Parti Warisan Sabah was being manipulated by Tun Mahathir. Other than rejecting Mahathir’s offer to join Bersatu, he even had a quarrel with the former prime minster because he insisted to take Bersatu to Sabah.

“In the past when I was in the government, I supported Mahathir. I also supported Anwar. And Najib was like a brother to me. However, if they did anything wrong, we wouldn’t be friends any more. The same goes with my own brothers and cousins.

“I did so in the interest of the country and her people.”

Warisan’s spread to Peninsula

Shafie predicted that Umno and Bersatu would go separate ways in the coming general election because of PAS. That’s why we may see many independent candidates coming up.

He also said Malay voters might not necessarily support Umno or PAS.

“I have seen unprecedented split in Kelantan. The people there are getting frustrated with PAS.”

Some feel that Warisan might not be able to wrest a seat from Umno, Bersatu or PAS, and will at best dilute the votes of PH parties.

Shafie said there were people inviting him to Perak and Johor, and there were Warisan supporters in Merbok and Jerai in Kedah, but all these are not DAP’s or Keadilan’s seats.

“I have before won many Umno’s seats in Sabah. If I can do it in Sabah, so can I in West Malaysia. The question lies with fielding the right candidates.”

Shafie also said Warisan would not contest all 222 parliamentary seats but only winnable constituencies, adding that he had faith his party could win a couple of seats in Kelantan and Kedah.

“We are here to give the voters an additional choice.”

Parti Warisan Sabah has just sealed a deal to work with Syed Saddiq’s MUDA (Malaysian United Democratic Alliance). When asked whether he could work with other parties, Shafie said he was still considering, and that his door was not yet shut.

“Some say I should work with Umno and get a deputy prime minister post. As a matter of fact, this was already proposed to me by an Umno leader before Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob became PM. But I needed to think about the future. I didn’t want my grandchildren to think that I was ‘that kind of person’.

“I didn’t want people to feel that I betrayed the voters because of government post. This was not the value I wanted.”

Transcending race

Shafie said the people voted for him not because of projects or money.

“What they now want is change. I worked with PH in the last election but their promises were not fulfilled and they were fighting among themselves for the PM post.

“I hope to transcend race, Mahathir, Anwar, Umno, PAS…”

He pointed out that even if he adopted a multiracial approach, Islam would still be the official religion and the Malay privileges would still be there.

He said Warisan would contest urban, semi-urban as well as Malay-majority constituencies in the next election.

Penang was the firs stop of Warisan’s spread to the Peninsula, where 1,500 new members were recruited. But, would that pose a threat to DAP?

Shafie said DAP is also present in Sabah and Sarawak, as a matter of fact.

“Do you mean I can’t go to Kedah just because Mahathir is there? I will also contest in Kedah, but probably not all the seats. I used to be an Umno leader, so should I also think about Umno?”

As a Malay-Muslim, Shafie said he was not trying to create division in the Malay community but to provide the people an additional option.

“If they think Umno is better, it’s up to them to decide, but my track record in Sabah should prove everything!”

He said from the perspective of voters, all he could see was the people’s frustration.

“Some people told me they traveled back from overseas just to vote in GE14. They spent a lot of money and time but look, what happened then?”

Shafie said even if his party lost the 2020 Sabah election, it still managed to win 23 seats to become the single largest party in the state. This shows that the people in Sabah still have faith in Warisan.

He also said Warisan won in all Chinese and Kadazan constituencies and basically most of the seats on the east coast.

‘We’re representing the people, not our pockets’

Shafie said he was not happy with Anwar and Lim Guan Eng signing the MoU with the government on political stability and transformation.

He said Pakatan Harapan was the alliance given the mandate by the people. Why should it sign an MoU with the defeated Perikatan Nasional?

However, he said he would remain open on continued cooperation with PH and Mahathir. As for BN, he said he still had a choice.

He said his attitude was very straightforward when the PM approached him to sign the MoU. He said he was willing to sign if it was for the good of the people, but if he offered RM3 million for him to help the people or he would get RM3 million after signing it, then “no”. He said he would support good governance but would never collude with corrupted leaders.

“We are representing the people, not our own pockets.”

On fighting with Anwar over PM nomination, Shafie said he later opted out and give all his eight seats to Anwar to avert a split in PH++.

He said back then he also had the support of two seats each from Sarawak and Johor plus another from Perak, but Anwar claimed he had the numbers.

Mahathir and his supporters were not happy that Shafie opted out. However, he knew Anwar already had 105 seats and if he were to join in the race, he would not get the support of PKR reps.

“I knew I would only get 30 plus votes at most.”

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Shafie Apdal
Parti Warisan Sabah

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4 mth ago
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