Thursday, March 13, 2008


Few changes expected


Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman is likely to maintain the status quo in the composition of the new State Cabinet among the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties. “We don’t expect many changes in terms of the composition though individual parties may be putting in new faces in the Cabinet,” a senior BN official indicated yesterday. However, a balance is being struck in terms of party representations in the State Cabinet and the Federal Cabinet, according to reliable sources from the ruling coalition. The key in the composition is to strengthen the coalition in the wake of major electoral setbacks in Peninsular Malaysia, the BN officials said, adding they expect the new State Cabinet line-up to be in place by Friday or next Monday. Sabah Umno is expected to bring in at least two new faces to the State Cabinet and among the names being mentioned were Klias Assemblywoman Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun and Apas Assemblyman Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan. In the previous terms, Azizah was Deputy Federal Housing and Local Government Minister, while Tawfiq was State Assistant Rural Development Minister. Speculations are that PBS President Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan may be headed for a federal portfolio. If this materialises, then the post of Deputy Chief Minister slated for the non-Muslim Bumiputera quota under the BN power-sharing formula would be filled up by a senior leader from the party. Sources from PBS said incumbent Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Radin Malleh would stand a good chance of being promoted to a full minister. In the last 11-member State Cabinet, Sabah Umno held five Cabinet portfolios and PBS two, with SAPP and UPKO holding one each. Of the 14 assistant minister positions, Umno held seven, PBS four and one each from SAPP, Sabah MCA and UPKO. Sabah BN won 59 of the 60 state seats and 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats in the just-concluded March 8 elections with Musa being sworn in for his second term as Chief Minister before Head of State Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah at the Istana negeri here, the next day on Sunday. Umno won 32 state seats, PBS 12, UPKO five, SAPP four, LDP three and one each for Sabah MCA and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS). In the previous Federal Cabinet, Sabah was represented by full ministers, namely Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili and Datuk Mohd Shafle Apdal and two Deputy Federal Ministers, Datuk Anifah Aman and Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun. UPKO leaders had stated that allowing Dompok to contest in Penampang was a strategic move to ensure KDM-based party’s representation in the Federal Cabinet. Senior leaders from Sabah like Pairin, SAPP President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, UPKO Secretary-General Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau and some other BN leaders have indicated the need for both Sabah and Sarawak to be given important roles in the Federal Government. Thus far, only Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has publicly requested for one full Minister and one Assistant Minister posts. Recently, LDP President Datuk V KLiew said the party wanted their single State Cabinet portfolio maintained and it is also learned that LDP has requested for a Cabinet post at the federal level. A senior PBRS leader Datuk Kadoh Agundong had also indicated that the sole elected assemblyman from the party should be made a full minister. As for the SAPP, which delivered all the two parliamentary and four state seats allocated to it, Yong had said the party was not going to put any pressure on the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister by making demands. “The PM and CM know what to do. Let’s not add pressure by demanding for posts through the newspapers. “We can only say that Sabah and Sarawak should play a more effective and meaningful role at the Federal level,” he said, adding that scrabbling for posts would only create chaos. “Leaders are elected to serve, not to scramble for posts,” said Yong, who was Chief Minister from 1996-1997 under the Rotation System which has since been abolished. In another development, Consumer Association for Sabah and Labuan (CASH) President Datuk Patrick Sindu, who lost in the Papar parliamentary seat which was retained by BN-Umno incumbent Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, reckoned that Sabah and Sarawak should demand for bigger representation in the new Federal Cabinet. He said the two East Malaysian states which delivered a total of 54 parliamentary seats between them, should request for a Deputy Prime Minister’s post in addition to three full portfolios respectively. “The Sabah and Sarawak’s State Governments should also ask the Federal Government to increase the oil royalty from the present five per cent to 25 per cent,” said Patrick, who also lauded the new Penang State government’s decision which requires all the elected representatives to declare their assets.