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KOTA KINABALU, Dec 21 — Sabah opposition leader Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal today questioned the new Gabungan Rakyat Sabah state government’s decision to appoint a person declared bankrupt as a member of the Sabah Economic Advisory Council earlier this year.
The Senallang assemblyman, who did not mention the name of the bankrupt individual, said the appointment was inappropriate as it may affect foreign investors’ confidence in the state.
“We have recently discovered that one of the leaders on the council is bankrupt. How are we to convince investors to believe in Sabah with a bankrupt person in such an important position on economic affairs,” he said during his debate of the state budget during the State Assembly sitting today.
“We must ensure that foreign investors have confidence in Sabah. They have expressed interest in Sabah, but when they find out that a bankrupt is a member of the board of directors, it affects their confidence,” he said.
At this point, chief minister Datuk Hajiji Noor stood up and said that the government was aware of the matter and the bankrupt individual appointed to the council had been replaced.
“Regarding the appointment, the individual who was found to be bankrupt, we have actually replaced him. We replaced with Datuk Ismail Abdullah,” said Hajiji, likely referring to the former director of Sabah State Planning Unit from 2009 to 2014.
Shafie accepted his explanation and said that the individuals on the council must be of integrity and with good credibility.
Hajiji had previously announced the setting up of the council in October and reiterated its importance in spearheading the state’s economy during the budget proposal on Friday. However, there has been no official announcement of its members from the state government as of yet.
The members of the advisory council had recently met at the University Malaysia Sabah last Friday for a briefing by Invest Sabah Berhad. According to a statement, in attendance was deputy chief minister Datuk Joachim Gunsalam, advisory council chairman Tan Sri David Chu, Datuk Tan Kim Beng, Tan Sri TC Goh, Datuk Clarence Bongkos Malakun and Datuk John Lo among others.
It is believed that a Kadazandusun Chamber Commerce of Industry advisor, Datuk Ajit Galun, was replaced by Datuk Ismail Abdullah.