KOTA KINABALU: Al Jazeera’s article on Sabah carbon credit agreement is distorted and irresponsible because it was written entirely on the words of a ‘whistleblower’.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said Al-Jazeera should have double-checked the facts with the government which has endorsed the Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) rather than relying on false allegations made by an individual who is hell-bent to discredit the deal and even set up his own group to take over the deal.
Likewise, he said the same whistleblower had also misled and exploited former senator Adrian Lasimbang.
“Clearly, both Al-Jazeera and Lasimbang formed their opinions on the topic based on lies and falsehood fed to them by an individual whose motive is to gain political mileage and instigate the indigenous communities by defaming me,” he said.
Kitingan said Al-Jazeera also took pleasure in defaming him based on the information provided by the whistleblower without bothering to investigate the truth.
“During my stint as the Sabah Foundation Director, I put Sabahans to take over posts as heads of departments that were were previously monopolised by Malayans. Even husbands and wives held these positions at the expense of Sabahans.
“Perhaps, because of this, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad became enraged with me and concoted lies to smear my name and delegitimise me and the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government,” he said.
Kitingan said it was during this time that he began questioning Malaya about Sabah rights, to which Mahathir retaliated by sending officers from the Inland Revenue Board to ransack his home daily and nightly.
Pretty soon, Kitingan was hounded by the Anti Corruption Authority and special branch police officers tailed him everywhere.
Mahathir’s claim that US$1bn was missing from Sabah Foundation coffers was also found untrue, and the federal lost the ensuing court battle and was forced to pay the costs.
“After all of these persecutions, I still ended up spending 31 months in ISA detention. I wasn’t a politician then and it’s wrong to claim that I joined Mahathir to avoid persecution. I was already being hounded and wrongfully jailed before I joined politics,” he said.
Kitingan said Sabah Foundation’s performance was the finest during his tenure as director.
He founded Innoprise Corporation, which he used to turn around underperforming companies including Pacific Hardwoods, Sinora, Sabah Sofwoods, and YS Shipping, as well as make new profitable investments in hotels tourism, property development and Shell Timor.
Kitingan even launched the “People Development” initiative to empower neglected and unemployed youths, while the Sabah Foundation forest concessions were planned and managed under the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) scheme.
“It was only after Mahathir succeded in destroying PBS through the use of illegal immigrants and Projek IC that Sabah Foundation was mismanaged through massive logging.
“Anyone, especially Lasimbang, who accuses me of anything else is wrong,” he said.
He reminded Lasimbang and others who have been fed fictitious ‘history’, that the information disseminated to the public in the 1980s and 1990s were all controlled by the government, specifically the federal.
As such, the majority of the information fed to them were propaganda and the media, notably radio and television at the time, were mere propaganda machines of the federal.
“I am considering legal action against Al-Jazeera and Lasimbang and others who are actively disseminating false information to the public, particularly those that are defaming my name,” he said.