Tuesday, January 1, 2008

TUESDAY-1ST JANUARY 2008-MAZU ISSUE: Sabah Gov't forced my hand in going to court, says Chong

MAZU ISSUE: Sabah Gov’t forced my hand in going to court, says Chong
Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said yesterday that the State Government had forced his hand in filing a civil suit regarding the withdrawal of approval for the construction of the Mazu statue in Kudat. Commenting on the recent call by deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for an amicable solution to the issue, Chong said the issue at hand is to determine if the Government’s action was right or otherwise. “Personally I do not believe the DPM is ignorant of the fact that my filing a suit is not simply to main- main (fool around),” he told reporters at a press conference here yesterday. “I had no choice but to seek legal redress because the State Government through the Kudat Town Board withdrew or revoked the approval for the Mazu project under a specific provision, which is Section 15 of the Town Planning Ordinance. “According to Section 16 of the same Ordinance, it states that whosoever is aggrieved by the grant or refusal of a project must in 28 days of the decision in writing appeal to a judge or court. “Since the withdrawal letter was issued on Nov 15,2007, if I did not take action, that would mean that I admit that I was wrong in the project. I had already met with the DPM and briefed him on this issue and he understood very clearly, he said.
Chong, who had resigned from the State Cabinet in his capacity as Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister in April this year, stressed that the suit is a last resort after holding numerous discussions with the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition leadership. He reiterated his earlier statement that the revocation of the statue’s approval was a personal attack, saying that it is not a problem of race or religion but that of certain quarters getting “big-headed”. “If there is any BN leader who is patient, I am the man. This issue has been dragging on for one and a half years already and not only have I been discussing but also writing, pleading and begging for all in the BN to be reasonable. “I have done all I needed to do. I have even met with the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi), who asked me to meet him on Nov 14 and we had a very good meeting and everything was clear. After a successful meeting with the PM, the State rewarded me with a letter of revocation,” he said. Chong, who is also Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) adviser, noted that he would have no problem with dropping the suit should the State Government decide to be “amicable” and allow the project to continue. “If I am right, why talk about relocating or compensating? Let me continue and close this chapter. If they allow the project to continue, not only will I withdraw the suit, I will say to them thank you, thank you and thank you,” he said.