Sabah BN man hopes for ‘win-win’ in distribution of remaining state cabinet positions

Sabah BN Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain hopes representatives from MCA or SAPP will be included in the Sabah Cabinet.

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah Barisan Nasional leader has expressed hope that the remaining five state Cabinet positions will be properly distributed among the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) parties.

Sabah BN Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain said: “We hope it is a win-win distribution so that everyone can be comfortable to work together.

“The people expect the new government to have more focus and work on reviving the economy during these challenging times and fulfil all the promises made during the election campaign.”

So far chief minister Hajiji Noor, the Sabah Perikatan Nasional chief, has named six ministers from the 11 available state portfolios.

It was reported that the remaining five ministers would be sworn in before the Sabah governor tomorrow although there has been no official notification of such a ceremony at the time of writing.

Asked if Umno expected to have more positions after the party conceded the chief minister post to Perikatan Nasional, Aziz, who is also Sabah Umno Youth chief, said: “The numbers are as already agreed upon.

“I just hope the current government will consider representatives from MCA or SAPP to be part of the government,” he said.

On Sept 29, Hajiji, who is also the state finance minister, named Sabah BN chief Bung Moktar, STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan and PBS vice president Joachim Gunsalam as deputy chief ministers.

Bung was also later named as the works minister while Kitingan was made agriculture and food industries minister and Gunsalam the industrial development minister.

Sabah PPBM deputy chief Masidi Manjun was appointed the local government and housing minister as well as second finance minister. PBS secretary-general Jahid Jahim was named rural development minister.

The portfolios still vacant consist of the ministries of health and people’s wellbeing; law and native affairs; tourism, culture and environment; education and innovation; and youth and sports.

GRS comprises PN, BN and PBS. The parties in PN are PPBM, STAR and SAPP while BN comprises Umno, MCA and PBRS. PBS is an ally to PN.

The loose coalition won 38 seats in the Sabah polls but it is understood that three other victorious independent candidates namely Rubin Balang, Masiung Banah and Ruddy Awah have sided with GRS, allowing them to have an overall 41 seats compared with the 32 won by Warisan Plus.

Meanwhile, sources claim that Sabah Umno will get at least three of the five remaining ministerial positions, with Bung said to be eager to push for new faces.

Sabah Umno deputy chief Yakub Khan and Tanjung Keramat assemblyman Shahelmey Yahya, both first-term state representatives, are said to be in contention.

This means veteran Umno leaders such as former chief minister Salleh Said Keruak, who won the Usukan seat, could be left out.

From the two remaining slots, the sources speculate, one could go to Sabah PPBM treasurer and Membakut assemblyman Ariffin Arif, making it three full ministers from the party in the GRS state government.

Sources claim the chief minister might name a woman for the final state ministership and that it could go to either PBS deputy secretary-general Julita Mojungki or STAR’s first-time assemblywoman Flovia Ng. They are the only two women representatives in GRS.

All eyes are also on whether Hajiji will name a Chinese leader to one of the ministerial posts, despite all GRS’ candidates from the community losing in the state election.

Meanwhile, the chief minister is also expected to appoint at least 18 assistant ministers and naming six nominated assemblymen to further strengthen GRS’ position as the ruling government.