KOTA KINABALU, July 10 — The Sabah State Legislative Assembly experienced a brief tumultuous moment when some members raised their voices and yelled unintelligible words as Finance Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun explained the state government’s decision to ‘rescue’ Sabah International Petroleum Sdn Bhd (SIP).

The matter was raised by Senallang assemblyman Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal.

“I was hoping YB Senallang would be here to explain to me. He still questions the bond or ‘sukuk’ of RM900 million, why to save a company and why the money is not used to make roads, bridges,” said Masidi at the August House.

He explained that the ‘sukuk’ used for companies is for business purposes and has nothing to do with building bridges.

“If we use the ‘sukuk’ for that, the state government will have to raise the ‘sukuk’. It is simple to understand. We use it for the purpose it was recommended for,” he said.

Masidi continued, “We took over SIP and paid the RM700 loan because one, SIP belongs to the government, and two, Sabah Development Bank (SDB) belongs to the government. SIP owes to a bank owned by the government. If SIP does not pay the bank, the bank will encounter monetary problems since it will have no more money for business purposes. We had to take both into consideration.”

He added that with its liability settled, SIP could start recording profits from its 10 per cent shares in a Petronas-owned company.

Masidi also claimed that the Senallang assemblyman had also endeavoured to raise sukuk to pay for the loan as the SIP’s chairman in 2020.

“It is strange that when he did it, it wasn’t a problem, but when we were doing it and succeeded in solving the problem, it became a problem. He is my friend, I respect him, but let’s not twist facts. It is about Sabah. It doesn’t matter that we are enemies in politics but we shouldn’t be enemies until the victim is our own state,” he said.

Masidi reminded the August House that he was not here to be popular.

“I am not here to be popular. I am here to do a job,” he said.

Masidi added, “Before I leave, I want to contribute my little to the State so that I can feel that I have done something good for our State. There is no other intention. I am 74. I am the oldest here. I have no other intention but to do a good job while there is still an opportunity to do this job. That is all.”

Masidi also disclosed that the loans given to companies in West Malaysia were not issued during the present government nor during the Warisan government.

“Billions were loaned to West Malaysian companies. It wasn’t his (Shafie) fault, it wasn’t our fault also,” he said.

The difference, Masidi said, was that Shafie did not tackle it during his time, while Hajiji (Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji Noor) attempted to tackle the problem.

When explaining the 2024 Supplementary Supply Bill, Masidi also informed the August House that it was not the highest in Sabah history.

“This is not the highest in history. There are two other supplementary budgets that are higher than that of today,” he said.

He said that during the Warisan government, the supplementary budget was RM1.3 billion while during the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, the supplementary budget was RM2.5 billion.

Merotai assemblyman Sarifuddin Hata interjected and said that the high supplementary budget during the Warisan rule was because of Covid-19.

“It was a Covid-19 budget,” Sarifuddin defended.

Masidi reminded that in preparing the estimates, they have taken account all guidelines set by the national Auditor-General.

He also said that there is an assumption that the State annual budget will be in deficit due to the Bill, and assured that the State Government’s additional assets exceeded RM1 billion and he will not do anything against the rules and norms of good governance in accounting.

“I also fear God, not just because I will be questioned here, but Allah will also question me after death. We can argue here. But with Allah, we cannot argue. That reminds me why it is necessary to prepare a prudent budget and so on.” — The Borneo Post