What I meant by 'independent': Jeffrey

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah State Reform Party (Star) Chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan clarified that what he meant in response to a Daily Express reporter's question on rumours of him leaving the party to be an independent assemblyman like three others recently was that his Sarawak-based party is already independent.

He said in a statement that Star was neither aligned to the ruling Barisan Nasional nor the opposition Pakatan.

Hence, he had no intention of becoming an Independent or BN-friendly Assemblyman.

"My struggles for the Sabah cause and the restoration of rights and autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak are beyond money politics," he said.

On the other hand, Jefrrey said if all Sabah Umno/BN Members of Parliament were to declare themselves as independent assemblymen, they could all demand for the restoration of Sabah's rights and autonomy from the Federal Government more effectively. He said if only they could do this, there would be a change in the Federal Government or a round of fresh elections.

On another matter, Dr Jeffrey said the State and Federal Governments and its Ministers have failed the people in Sabah and turned a blind eye to unwarranted increases in the electricity tariff in Sabah without solving the real problems.

Dr Jeffrey said it is a gross misconduct and misgovernance on their part by creating a "lose-lose-lose" scenario for Sabahans. He was responding to the 16.9 per cent increase in electricity tariff for Sabah and Labuan compared to only 15 per cent increase in the peninsula starting next year.

He said the governments need to understand that as the ruling administration, they are first and foremost, holding trusteeship as well as fiduciary and social responsibilities to the people.

"They cannot put themselves in the shoes of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) who are corporate bodies and not government agencies responsible for power generation, maintenance and supply," he said in a statement, Thursday.

If the TNB and SESB could not operate efficiently, he said, the government should then stop its monopoly and open the electricity sector to other players.

"Let it be known that there are other capable Malaysian companies that are operating power projects in other countries and many are doing well without government subsidies," he said. The first loss for Sabahans, he said, is that there is absolutely no justification for any increase in the tariff.

This is because there was already an increase in 2011 compared to non-increase in the tariffs in the peninsula since 1986 as acknowledged by Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

"It is a double increase and a double whammy for Sabahans as increasing costs caused by other factors such as the Cabotage as well as lower minimum wages compared to the peninsula are increasing the burden on the people and affecting their daily lives," he said.

Jeffrey said the State Government and Federal Ministers from Sabah should have fought for the exemption of any increase for Sabah.

"Why have they not done so? Are they so lame, useless and powerless or simply do not care for the people in Sabah?" he asked.

He said that the State Government and leaders should take lessons from the Chief Minister of Sarawak who announced that there would be no increase in electricity tariffs in Sarawak.

The rate of tariff of 16.89 per cent in Sabah compared to 15 per cent in the peninsula, he said, is not only an additional loss but also a slap in the face for Sabahans and Sabah leaders.

He said that there is absolutely no justification for the higher rate of increase given that there was already an increase in 2011 and contrary to the Federal Government's policy for 1Malaysia.

The different rates of increase, he said, shows that it is in fact 2Malaysia, one for the peninsula and the other for Sabah and Sarawak, the so-called equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.

To this, Jeffrey asked why can't the Federal Government be fairer to Sabah and ensure that the rate of increase, if at all and which is absolutely unjustified, be the same as the peninsula.

"Even with the lower rate of increase, the Minister announced that the Federal Government will be spending another RM14 billion for consumers in the peninsula.

"Why is there no corresponding support for Sabah?" he asked.

This higher rate of increase, he said, is only for show and confirms the "couldn't care less" attitude, disrespect and non-prioritisation of Sabah's interests by Federal leaders from the peninsula.

The matter is made worse for Sabahans when these Federal leaders are ably aided by stooges from Sabah who only know how to "kow-tow" to their political masters and have forgotten that they are in positions due to being voted in by the people in Sabah, he said.

Even the people in the Federal Territory of Labuan, he said, are not spared and are burdened with the unfair increase.

"Labuan only remains a Federal territory in name and is treated as a step-child or far-flung colony instead of being part of the "real" Federal territory when the increase is the same as Sabah and not the peninsula.

"So, why isn't Labuan not treated equally with the Federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya?

"Why the double standards for Labuan? If it is a true federal territory, the rate of increase should be the same as the peninsula" he said.

He said the loss is even greater for Sabahans.

Like Sarawak, he said, Sabah produces natural gas which is used by Independent Power Providers (IPPs) in the peninsula who are subsidised to the tune of about RM19 billion a year while Sabah and Sarawak consumers get no such subsidy.

This does not even include the RM26.6 billion that is going to Petronas and the Federal Government in 2014 from Sabah's oil and gas, he said.

If the Federal Government were just to transfer RM1 billion in subsidies to consumers in Sabah, the Federal would not suffer any financial loss, he said.

On the other hand, he said, the RM1 billion will give 833,333 households in Sabah free electricity of RM100 per month for a whole year.

"So, why isn't the State Government and the Minister of Energy who is from Sabah looking after the interests of Sabahans and fight for some concessions for consumers in Sabah on this gas that is coming from the earth in Sabah?" Jeffrey asked.

At the local level, he said that the State Government should ensure that SESB fulfills its obligations to the people in Sabah.

The SESB, he said, needs to ensure that there is real improvement and consistency in power supply and operate with efficiency so that there is justification for any tariff increase.

Based on economic theory, he said, if the SESB improves its efficiency, it could only mean that the costs of generation of power supply is lowered and these savings will translate into a lower tariff for the consumers.

"There is no basis for any tariff increase without real efforts being put in to provide efficient and consistent power supply," he said.

He said that by merely quoting that there is a reduction in System Average Interruption Duration Index (Saidi) from 2,867 minutes/customer in 2009 to 557 minutes/customer in 2012 is a deflection of the real problems and inefficiency of power supply by SESB.

He said that because of SESB's inefficiency it is also known as "Sabah Everyday Sure Blackout".

Quoting a reduction in Saidi to 557 minutes, he said, is only cheap publicity and nothing more than self-praise, a pat on one's own back and aimed at misleading the people when its target was 450 minutes.

"They have missed the target by a mile. The true effort and target should be towards 0 minutes.

"It has to be remembered that part of the decrease in Saidi is due to an increase in number of customers," he said.

Mathematically, Jeffrey said the average Saidi would also drop even if there is no reduction in the total amount as a higher number of consumers in 2012 compared to 2009 will result in a lower average Saidi.

Daily Express


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