Ghapur quits but stays on in BN
Kalabakan Member of Parliament Datuk Ghapur Salieh has relinquished his post as Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister. He told Bernama yesterday that he submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya on Wednesday morning. He said he had also informed Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman about his resignation. He dismissed talks that he would be hopping over to the Opposition, which is said to be trying to lure several MPs from Sabah and Sarawak since the conclusion of the 12 general election which saw the Barisan Nasional (BN) lose its two-thirds majority in Parliament, and five states to the Opposition. Ghapur, who won the Kalabakan seat unopposed in the March 8 polls, said he would continue to be the elected representative and Kalabakan Umno division head. “All that talks are not true as I have my own principles. Even before, when Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) came into power (1985), all the State Assemblymen from Parti Berjaya (which was then a BN component) except me, crossed over to PBS. So based on this, people should be able to gauge my stand,” he said. Ghapur is the second MP from Sabah and the third person to resign as a Federal Deputy Minister in the aftermath of the BN’s election debacle. Immediately after Abdullah announced the Cabinet line-up on March 18, Kimanis MP Datuk Anifah Aman rejected his appointment as Deputy Transport Minister while Datuk Seri Tengku Azian Sultan Abu Bakar, the MP for Jerantut, turned down the post of Deputy Foreign Minister. Asked why he decided to quit eight days after accepting the post, Ghapur, 64, said: “I don’t want to be tied down to the duties of a Deputy Minister because I want to concentrate fully on the residents of Kalabakan.” He has many children studying overseas and being a Deputy Minister would curtail his time to visit them, according to him. Earlier, Ghapur told reporters at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport that in his resignation letter, he thanked the Prime Minister for selecting him as a candidate in the recent general election and for appointing him as a Federal Deputy Minister. “Initially, I did not want to accept any Federal post, including a minister’s post, but since I got to know about the appointment from the TV, I did not have the chance to inform about my intention of not accepting any Federal post. “On that announcement, I respected the Prime Minister’s decision and after having taken the of office) I forwarded my resignation letter.” Asked whether Abdullah accepted his resignation, Ghapur, a former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, said he had explained at length why he resigned and believed that the Prime Minister would accept it. “But my decision is final, and I did it in the interest of my family, especially, my children who are studying overseas. “I feel the Deputy Minister’s post carries a huge responsibility and I do not want to be tied down to Government regulations where I cannot be actively involved in business and do a lot of other things ... so I think it’s better for me to be a Government supporter instead,” he said. On the Kalabakan people’s reaction to his resignation, Ghapur said it was not a problem because “what is important to them is development for the benefit of the people”. Asked whether he would be replaced by another Umno MP from Sabah, he said it is up to the Prime Minister. Ghapur’s resignation added pressure on Abdullah in this politically difficult time for the BN and Umno. Sarawak ensured BN’s cling to power in the elections, which gave Umno the fright of its life. De facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told Reuters last week that ruling-party lawmakers were willing to defect to the Opposition, threatening to drag down the Government. The Opposition said it was not certain why Ghapur resigned. “One reason might be that he is dissatisfied with the post. What other plans he has I really don’t know,” said Syed Husin Ali, the Deputy Chief of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party (Keadilan). “So far he has not applied.”.