Chong: Relocating Mazu is not the issue

Joe Fernandez  (Malaysiakini)

Former Sabah chief minister Chong Kah Kiat sees his successor Musa Aman dredging up an old offer to relocate the aborted Mazu – Goddess of the Sea – statue in Kudat, as an attempt to show his magnanimity.

NONE“He (Musa) also wants to show the people that I was the one being unreasonable,” Chong added in an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini.

Musa’s offer, without any specifics, follows in the wake of the Federal Court’s non-interventionist stand on Monday.

Relocation is just an afterthought, an old one at that, after the state government realised that it had legally and politically bitten off more than it can chew,” said Chong.

The former chief minister said the offer was not made out of sincerity “if you study the history of the Mazu project”. It was made, he noted, to save Musa politically in the eyes of the people.

Chong, who isn’t surprised by the renewed relocation offer, said that he had pointed out many times that the issue was not relocation and therefore the question of accepting or rejecting it did not arise.

“If I accept the offer, then it simply means that my original site was wrong. How can it be when I have done no wrong?” reiterated Chong. “Again, if I accept the relocation offer – thereby admitting that I was wrong in the first place – why should the state government offer to compensate me?”

Compensation offered to Chong several times

On several previous occasions the state government had publicly offered to compensate Chong for the works carried out so far on the existing Mazu site and the relocation costs.

But Chong sees the state government compensating a person who has done something wrong in the first place as being reckless with the people’s money and an abuse of public office.

NONEHe reiterated that he does not want to be compensated if he has done something wrong. Instead, he wants to be “punished by law” as an example to others. “Unfortunately, the court was prevented from deciding that.”

The former chief minister feels that the chief minister and the state attorney-general should have stayed the course in the High Court and if necessary, to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

The state government, according to Chong, should convince the court that the grounds that they used to stop the Mazu project, and then cancel the approval, are sustainable in law.

“The non-registration of the Kudat Thean Hou Charitable Foundation – linked with the Mazu project through me, its chairperson – was not the grounds on which the approval granted legally by the Kudat Town Board was withdrawn and then subsequently cancelled,” said Chong.

Issue is ‘just to spite one man’

He says the issue is abuse of public office “just to spite one man… Chong Kah Kiat”.

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