Shocking questions over the RM1bil special grant: Yong

(The Daily Express) – The disclosure by the State Secretary that the RM1 billion special grant for Sabah has been placed under the Prime Minister's Department is a shocking revelation that disgraces the State Government and exposes the Federal Government's insincerity, said Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

He said there were reasons to believe that "the State Secretary's office was made to prepare the belated disclosure because none of the State Ministers or the Chief Minister wanted to be responsible to explain about it".

"Everybody in government knows that any funds placed under the Implementation Co-ordination Unit (ICU) of the Prime Minister's Department remain in Federal hands. Projects under the ICU are still controlled by the Federal authorities," he said in a statement, Sunday.

Yong said the ICU was the boss of the disbanded JPPS (Federal Department of Development Sabah) and that since the RM1 billion was placed under the ICU, then it means that there is no special grant to Sabah.

"It only means that allocations may be made from the existing Ninth Malaysia Plan and ordinary budget. As SAPP has pointed out several times before, there was no mention of any RM1 billion special grant to Sabah in the 2009 Federal annual budget or 2008 supplementary budgets or even the extra budget under the economic stimulus plan," he said.

"It is also puzzling that if RM200 million has been channelled to the SDO by the Prime Minister's Department, then how is it that Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Tan Sri Bernard Dompok) was not aware of such special grants?" he asked.

At the same time, he also questioned how is it that the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister/Minister of Rural Development (Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan) seems to be in the dark when the State Secretary disclosed that RM2.1 million has been allocated to Members of Parliament and State assemblymen.

"Is it not that same Ministry of Rural Development that is responsible for assemblymen funds?" he asked.

Yong said the impression earlier given to the Sabah people for the withholding of RM1 billion was that the Federal Government wanted the Sabah Development Corridor to be formed before such special grants are disbursed to Sabah.

Hence, Sections 7(b), 14(b) and 15(a) of the Sabah Development and Investment Authority Enactment 2009 (Sedia) expressly provided for the receipt of grants and funds from the Federal Government.

"This is the only function that significantly differentiates Sedia from other existing statutory bodies. But two weeks after the Sedia enactment was passed by the State Legislative Assembly, the Government announced that RM200 million of the RM 1 billion has been channelled to the Sabah Development Office instead of Sedia.

"If this is the case, then the same funds could have been channelled to the Federal Education Department, Health Services Department, Federal Public Works Department (JKR) and so on. What is the role of Sedia then?" asked Yong.