KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee has lambasted Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon for labelling him as an “arrogant” leader.
Yong said that any semblance of honour that people had in Koh disappeared when the latter crawled into the Federal Cabinet by way of becoming a Senator through the back door.
“He (Koh) had earlier said he would not want to enter the Cabinet via the back door. I resent being compared with him. Unlike Koh, I had proudly rejected the official nomination as senator and ministerial-status as BIMP-EAGA envoy in June 2008.
“Koh calls this ‘arrogance’. I call this pride and honour: pride as a Sabahan who can say ‘No’ to Kuala Lumpur, honour as a Sabahan who refused to be bribed,” he said yesterday when commenting on Koh’s recent statement.
Koh was quoted by the newspapers as saying that he would not resort to extreme ways in his leadership of Gerakan as this might be counter-productive.
“Cannot be like SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee who lost Thursday’s Batu Sapi by-election because of his arrogance. We need to have a balance knowing when to be firm and when to be a little softer,” said Koh at the Gerakan’s 39th national delegates conference in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Yong said that although Koh and he had worked together and compared notes during their time as counterparts, being Chief Ministers at the time from 1996 to 1998, “I pitied Koh that he was often being bullied around.”
“He (Koh) could only claim close ties with fellow Penangite (then Deputy Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a way to boost his clout,” he said, adding that he was surprised why Koh, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, kept comparing himself with him.
Yong said it could be due to Koh’s closeness to former SAPP deputy president Datuk Tham Nyip Shen.
Recounting one function in Kuala Lumpur, Yong said he witnessed Koh being rudely scolded by a Malay government officer when Koh spoke in Mandarin with Tham.
“To my shock, Koh meekly kept quiet. Koh and Tham then switched to English mixed with some Malay words.”
Another time, Yong said he saw how Koh had to lower himself physically and emotionally when begging the then Kedah Menteri Besar (Tan Sri Sanusi Junid) not to proceed with the airport proposal in the northern region (which presumably would compete with the Penang Airport).
“Sanusi brushed Koh aside and walked away. Koh had to run after him. These are incidents that made me realise that the political DNA of the national BN leaders is completely wrong,” he added.
Yong added that he resented being compared with Koh because he was a coward in dealing with Umno.
He contended that there was no dignity, no mutual respect, no honour in the relationship between Koh and his Umno colleagues. And, it does not matter whether Koh changes his style from “tai chi’ to “kung fu” or whatever because his (Koh) political DNA is subservient to Umno.
“Koh and Gerakan and MCA leaders just could not understand why I, as the then Sabah CM, could reject federal Umno directives such as the then Acting Prime Minister’s approval of a gaming licence in Sabah.
“I had also successfully rejected the extension to Sabah of the Local Government Act, the Employment Act and the Indah Water Sewerage Consortium, among others.
“On my part, yes, I have lost Batu Sapi. We knew the risks. Defeat was a real possibility. Today, our enemies are gleefully mocking me and other SAPP leaders. But we conducted an honourable campaign against all odds. We lost Batu Sapi but kept our honour.
“Koh lost his own seat, his Penang state and his honour and dignity. His final nail will be when he is betrayed by Tham (Nyip Shen),” said Yong.