The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) has barred former Chief Minister Harris Salleh from leaving the country until he settles RM419,715.62 in Real Property Gains Tax, reported in the Daily Express, a Sabah English daily.
When contacted, Harris insisted that the whole episode was a "a very bad mistake" on the part of the authorities which "bothered on malice or was politically motivated" He didn't delve on his statement.
He said "Who ever is responsible can expect to face a law suit"
According to him he has a letter from IRB issued in 2005 stating that the land involved in the transaction was not subjected to tax.
This is not the first time Harris had sued the authorities for actions he deemed to be unjust.
In late 1990 he sued Labuan Development Authority (LDA) for issuing a closure order on his Labuan Hotel on the basis that it was structurally unsafe.
The court awarded him RM90 million compensation and returned the hotel to him.LDA had appealed and the outcome is awaited. It was learnt that the government has agreed to compensate him an appropriate amount out of court.
Harris was a flamboyant and take no nonsense chief minister who ruled with iron will during the Berjaya era from 1976 to 1985, when Sabah underwent significantly high economic development that boosted the state coffers making it one of the richest state at that time.