(Petaling Jaya, Monday): In the New Straits Times today, Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud, who had mysteriously disappeared when Sarawakians were facing their worst crisis as a result of the haze disaster last month with the Air Pollutant Index (API) reaching the all-time disastrous high of 839 in the history of the entire country, suddenly re-surfaced and launched a bitter attack on me.
The New Straits Times report said:
"Kuching, Sun – Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud said today he left Sarawak for the United States during the state of environmental emergency caused by the haze, to look for assistance from health and haze experts.
"He hit out at DAP secretary-general Lim Kit Siang for accusing him of running away from Sarawak during the emergency. Taib said Lim should not be hasty in hurling accusations.
""Lim was ignorant on what was being done in Sarawak because he did not trust his own men in the State.’ Taib had left the State with his family.
"He said while he was overseas the job of tackling the haze problem was left in the hands of his capable deputy Datuk Dr. George Chan.
"’Dr. Chan with the help of a team of capable civil servants, has done a very good job. I am very happy with the way they handled the situation during the state of emergency,’ he added.
"Taib said that as a result of his overseas trip, Sarawak would come up with a comprehensive plan to overcome problems relating to haze. "He said the plan, to be ready in three months, would be formulated with the help of experts he had talked to. The plan will cover a three to seven-year period’.
"Taib said health experts would come to Sarawak soon to help assess the impact of the haze on the people."
Taib Mahmud should come clean and give full details about his mysterious trip overseas when Sarawakians were facing their worst crisis in history during the 10-day emergency caused by the national haze disaster and not to treat Sarawakians and Malaysians as very gullible people who would believe any tall tale dished out to them.
During the national haze disaster, many government leaders have made the most incredulous of statements, which immediately became the butt of national jokes, but Taib Mahmud is now beating them all.
I am sure if an opinion poll is conducted in Sarawak or Malaysia, it would be found that the credibility index of Taib Mahmud’s statement yesterday is virtually nil!
I would like to know whether all the Sarawak State Ministers and Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties are prepared to publicly give 100 per cent endorsement to the reasons given by Taib Mahmud about his mysterious trip overseas during the height of the Sarawak haze emergency?
If Taib Mahmud had gone overseas to seek for international help from health and haze experts, why was he and the government so secretive about it, as if he was up to something very shameful and dishonourable? In fact, the fullest publicity and announcements should have been made about the important SOS mission which Taib Mahmud has embarked upon, both before and during every stage of the journey.
If this was an emergency mission, why was it not announced beforehand and why was it entrusted only to him and his family, rather than to a team of State leaders and experts? Was the international SOS mission which Taib Mahmud embarked on confined solely to him and his family, and what is the strength of his family delegation? Are the expenses of his international SOS trip and that of his family borne by the Sarawak state government, and if so, what are the details of these expenses?
Taib Mahmud should give full details as to when he left Sarawak, who left with him, the full itinerary of the countries he visited, the international haze and health experts that he had met and what is the three-year to seven-year anti-haze plan to resolve all haze problem in Sarawak once and for all.
Did Taib Mahmud get the clearance of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed or the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to leave the Sarawak state at the height of the haze emergency?
If Taib Mahmud had left Sarawak for the highly proper and honourable reason to seek international help of health and haze experts, why was his office so shy about revealing whether he was inside Sarawak or out of the country when I phoned up on 23rd September to specifically ask about the whereabouts of the Sarawak Chief Minister?
In the era of information technology where there could be instant communications from any part of the globe, why had Taib Mahmud taken more than two weeks to reveal himself and explain his absence from Sarawak?
Taib Mahmud owes the people of Sarawak and Malaysia a fulsome and satisfactory explanation as to why he left the state when he should be in Sarawak to provide leadership and guidance at a time when Sarawakians were faced with the worst crisis in their life, which has caused RM1 billion losses in the 10-day emergency, or RM100 million losses a day.
Parliament is debating a special motion on haze today in six hours time which would be tabled by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Taib Mahmud should be present in Parliament to satisfy Sarawakians and Malaysians that he had in fact not abandoned Sarawakians so that he and his family can enjoy clean fresh air in other countries, but had in fact been embarking on a secret SOS mission to save Sarawakians from haze.
I am faxing this statement now ( 10 a.m) to Taib Mahmud at the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office to give him enough notice to be in Parliament for the haze debate.