Yeo Bee Yin comes to Shafie's defence over criticism on Sabah power industry issue

KOTA KINABALU: Yeo Bee Yin (pic) has come to the defence of Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and the caretaker Sabah government over criticism on the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) issue.

The former energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister and Bakri MP, in refuting Parti Bersatu Sabah's Christopher Mandut and Sabah's former assistant finance minister Kenny Chua, claimed that the state government under Shafie had relentlessly pursued Sabah's autonomy over the power industry.

"After we formed governments (Pakatan Harapan at Federal level and Parti Warisan Sabah at state level), a Cabinet paper was passed by the Pakatan cabinet – not only to return SESB but also the power to regulate the power industry to the Sabah state government, i.e., returning the entire electricity rights to the hands of Sabahans.

"Technical and financial task forces were formed with the aim to find a win-win deal by early 2020.

"We were scheduled to meet again on the matter to finalise the details by the first quarter of this year, however it did not happen," Yeo claimed in a statement.

She added that if Pakatan had not lost power, the process of returning SESB to the Sabah government would have started after being in the hands of Tenaga Nasional since 1998 as well as the financial recovery process for SESB.

Earlier this week, Shafie said while the caretaker state government had reached an agreement with the former federal government for SESB operations to be returned, plans were put on hold after Perikatan Nasional took over the government.

Christopher, who is political secretary to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, had claimed in a statement that it was the Pakatan government who did not do anything to pursue the matter of handing over SESB.

He further claimed that Ongkili, as the energy, green technology and water minister during the Barisan Nasional administration had decided to return SESB to the state government a month before the 14th General Election.

Yeo, however, questioned the timing of the decision.

"Ongkili had been holding the ministerial portfolio for five years (2013 to 2018)... why wait a month before the election in 2018 to make such a decision? Where was approval of the Cabinet?

In a separate statement on Saturday (Aug 22), Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said that the federal government continued to be committed to returning SESB to the Sabah government and would continue negotiations to realise this.

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