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Musa takes to wooing non-politicos

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Barisan Nasional seems to be taking a leaf from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s direct dealings with civil society groups and is actively engaging, in some instances for the first time, religious bodies, academics, artistes and the latest, consumer bodies.
Such is the state’s political “dilemma”. The ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry testimonies and the contentious Bible-issue have dented BN’s “fixed deposits” and the “leakage” is worrying the powers-that-be here.
In an unexpected show of concern, Chief Minister Musa Aman recently hosted a local Catholic delegation led by the outgoing Archbishop John Lee who heaped praises on Musa for his openness and help to the church.
Last week, Musa, who is also state BN chairman and head of Umno here, also mingled freely with local artistes at a pre-arranged meeting with him, in an effort analysts see to shore up the popularity of his government.
Musa had also been courting other groups including stopping by here and there to meet people of all walks of life.
His meeting with elderly Chinese ahead of the Chinese New Year is displayed prominently in local English and Chinese newspapers.
The ruling party in the BN’s “fix-deposit” has been working overtime to ensure it is not slapped with further bad publicity, following RCI witnesses’ shocking disclosures.
In fact, an online media reported that Musa recently hosted senior editors at his residence and “advised” them to refrain from playing up reports maligning the state government.
He was reported to have told the editors not to play up testimonies by witnesses at the ongoing RCI hearing on the issues of the large presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah and the issuance of Malaysian documents to these aliens.
So far, some of the testimonies had incriminated state leaders including former chief minister Osu Sukam who was implied to have won a state constituency in Papar with the help of phantom voters recruited from among the illegal immigrants.
Musa is touted to have been the chairman of a certain Sabah Umno task force to recruit immigrants as voters then.
Musa’s name is expected to be mentioned for his role at the RCI but so far no witness had done so.
Today, Musa’s one-time political secretary, Herbert Timbon Lagadan, “admitted” that the state government is willing to hear every non-governmental organisation operating in the state.
Speaking at the opening of the second annual general meeting of Consumers Affair and Protection Society of Sabah (CAPS) at the 1Borneo ballroom here, Lagadan, who is now Assistant Minister of Comunity Development and Consumer Affairs, said under Musa’s leadership the government appreciates the fact that NGOs should speak without fear or favour, including on public policies and issues affecting the ruling party.
“We encourage NGOs to speak without fear or favour on issues they are supposed to speak on. There is no way a government could handle everything in this world without listening to the views of other parties including NGOs like yours…,” said Lagadan.
Lagadan said the state government recognised CAPS as an important body in looking after the affairs of consumers in the state and that the government would render help to CAPS where possible including granting funds and having joint programmes with it.
Lagadan, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) vice-president, however, reminded NGOs to be supportive of the government’s efforts to bring more development to the people.
Earlier, CAPS president James Bagah assured Lagadan and those present that CAPS would support the government as long as it fights for the people.
“I can assure everybody that CAPS as a consumer body would support the government of the day as long as it fights and protects the consumers,” Bagah said.
Also present was former president of the defunct CASH, Patrick Sindu, who is now CAPS honorary member.

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