KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg today announced the appointment of a new deputy chief minister, two new ministers and two assistant ministers in the state cabinet to help bolster the government in key administrative areas.
Awang Tengah Ali Hasan will be made Deputy Chief Minister effective tomorrow following a swearing-in ceremony.
Other major appointments include Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah as minister of tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports, and Talib Zulpilip as minister in the Chief Minister’s Office under the integrity and ombudsman portfolio.
Abdul Karim, currently the assistant minister of housing and of youth and sports, expressed surprise at the promotion.
“I thank God for this opportunity and I would also like to thank the chief minister for his confidence in appointing me to the new cabinet,” he said.
The Asajaya assemblyman described the portfolio as “very interesting”.
“Tourism, culture, youth and sports are things that are of great interest to me,” he said.
“I like that kind of portfolio and I am quite confident I would be able to serve well in the new ministry with the support from the government agencies.”
Both Abdul Karim and Talib, who is now the assistant minister for urbanisation, are from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the state’s dominant Barisan Nasional (BN) component.
Meanwhile, PBB’s Abdullah Saidol, chief political secretary to the chief minister and chairman of the BN’s backbenchers club, was made the assistant minister of corporate affairs under the Chief Minister’s Office.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak’s (PRS) Snowdan Lawan, who is Balai Ringin assemblyman, was appointed assistant minister of youth and sports.
“This is the team that will implement all that has been decided in the last 100 days,” said Abang Johari, who assumed the chief minister’s post on Jan 13 after succeeding Adenan Satem who died in office.
He said this after making the announcement during PBB’s special event to honour former party leaders Adenan, Abdul Taib Mahmud and Alfred Jabu Numpang.
He said other changes in the government included rebranding the Ministry of International Trade and Investment to the International Trade and E-Commerce Ministry, which will be headed by minister Wong Soon Koh of the United People’s Party (UPP).
The Local Government Ministry headed by Dr Sim Kui Hian of the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), will be renamed Local Government and Housing Ministry, he added.
The Ministry of Housing and Urbanisation, led by Abang Johari himself, was abolished, and Youth, Sports and Solidarity Minister Michael Manyin will be moved to head the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research.
PBB’s Semariang assemblywoman Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali will head a newly created interstate relations department.
“Interstate relations will cover the devolution of power under the chief minister and we have requested Hasidah to help us as she is a lawyer by training,” Abang Johari said.
“She is looking after inter-state relations and law and project monitoring,” he added.
The new ministers will be sworn-in tomorrow before Abdul Taib, who is now the governor.