What price Chinese culture?

Shafie’s Semporna Foundation matches Sabah Government’s RM100,000 grant to FCAS in power struggle

By J. J. Ng in Kota Kinabalu

It is open warfare between Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Shafie has upstaged Musa by giving financial support to the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) for promoting Chinese cultural activities. The Semporna Foundation of which he is advisor gave RM100,000 to FCAS on Monday at FCAS’ Chinese New Year Banquet here.

Musa on the following day presented a mock cheque to FCAS for RM100,000 being a grant from the State Government when he launched the Cultures of Malaysia-China, Festival of Springs, at the Chancellor Hall in Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

This is all the State Government can give to Chinese culture which as FCAS officials said is “peanuts” compared with what Shafie given. Furthermore, Musa told the FCSA in an indirect manner not to expect any more money from the State Government as long as he is Chief Minister.

“If you do not get enough funding, look for innovative ways of raising funds,” the Daily Express quoted him as saying in a news reported headlined, ‘Improving China ties‘. The Sabah Chinese community is disappointed with Musa.

A news report headlined ‘Boost for CNY bash, with lion dance grant from Govt’ in the Daily Express initially brought hope that the Sabah Government was going to give a big grant to lion dance troupes to usher in the Year of the Tiger. But Musa disappointed the Chinese community.

He gave only RM10,000 to the United Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu (USCCAKK) for the lion dance teams for Chinese New Year celebrations. The USCCAKK was at first thinking that Musa was going to give it a big grant. So it lined up 1,500 youths to form 68 lion dance teams to go “house visiting” this Chinese New Year.

But USCCA President Yong Soo Pin was sorely disappointed. USCCA officials and members said Yong vented his anger at them by asking, “What can you do with RM10,000?”

Therefore this Chinese New Year turned out to be unusually quiet with hardly any lion dance troupes going from house to house to offer Chinese New Year blessings to the Chinese community.

Chinese community leaders when interviewed by Kinabalu Sabah Times spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Many of them said they preferred Shafie to be Sabah’s Chief Minister saying that his Semporna Foundation’s RM100,000 grant to FCAS spoke loud and clear.

But no local newspaper reported Shafie’s RM100,00 grant to the FCAS.  Sources in the Daily Express and New Sabah Times told Kinabalu Sabah Times that Musa ordered them not to publish the grant given by the Semporna Foundation.

Shafie’s name was not mentioned at all in connection with the FCAS cultural event.

“Musa makes a lot of promises. But he never keeps them and he keeps on dilly-dallying,” said a respected Chinese community leader on condition of anonymity.

“Look at the land at Signal Hill next to the Sabah Theological Seminary. It was the site of the abandoned PWD quarters. The STS has met Musa many times to request him to approve the land for its use. But he keeps on delaying. Why?”