KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian prime minister Mahahtir Mohamad on Monday (Aug 3) said he will be travelling to Sabah ahead of the state election to confront what he described as "open corruption" practiced by certain assymblemen there.
In a Webinar with non-government organisation MyPerintis, Dr Mahathir said the 13 assemblymen who left the state government previously led by Gabungan Parti Sarawak to join Barisan Nasional’s Musa Aman cannot be trusted.
“I will be going (to Sabah) because I find what is happening there is a very bad example of corruption.
“The 13 people from the state assembly left the (state) government to enter the opposition. Why did they leave? If they left because they disagreed with policies, we can accept. But we found that they left because they were baited and bribed with money. They got bribed,” he said.
Dr Mahathir who led the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for 22 months after a landslide victory in the 14th General Election said PH had focused hard to eradicate corruption when it took over the government.
“We made that a priority and now we are upset because open corruption is being done in Sabah and their excuse is just money. They got money, so they jumped. This is not healthy for Sabah politics or even Malaysian politics as a whole.
“I hope that those who have left will be rejected by the people because they cannot be trusted. They just follow the money with no principles or no particular struggle. They get money and they leave straight,” he said.
Without naming anyone, the 95-year old also said he was sad to see that those who previously fought against corruption were now responsible for it.
“I am afraid that in Sabah, the old practice of corruption that we want to get rid of is back. The sad thing is that those who fought corruption last time are now directly involved in giving out bribes to get support and this is not healthy for the country,” he said.
On Jul 29, Mr Musa, the former chief minister of Sabah claimed that he had a majority in the state assembly, after 33 of the 65 state assemblymen had taken his side to support the Perikatan Nasional government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Mr Musa was previously charged with 46 charges of corruption related to timber concessions but was acquitted for all charges on Jun 9.
A day after Mr Musa's claims, sitting chief minister Shafie Apdal announced that he would dissolve the state assembly, paving the way for polls. This was later confirmed officially Sabah Head of State Juhar Mahiruddin.
Mr Shafie has been backed by Dr Mahathir as PH's prime minister candidate if it prevails in the next federal election.
The state election is to be held within 60 days from the dissolution. There will be 73 state assembly seats being contested after additional seats were endorsed in parliament last year.
On Jul 31, Sabah’s Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission division said it was investigating claims that the assemblymen were offered money to jump parties.