KOTA KINABALU: The tussle for the Sabah chief minister’s post, between Parti Warisan Sabah and Barisan Nasional, brings back memories of the time Joseph Pairin Kitingan was left waiting outside the palace gates for 36 hours.
In 1994, Pairin, president of Parti Bersatu Sabah, and his ally, Tun Datu Mustapha Harun, had won the state assembly elections after a fierce contest with the Barisan Nasional, which had the backing of federal leader Mahathir Mohamad.
Fearful of defections, Pairin waited outside the Sabah palace even before all seats had been declared. He and Mustapha were made to wait in their car for 36 hours, before Pairin was sworn-in.
But within weeks, his supporters defected to BN, beginning with PBS deputy president Lajim Ukin, then other party leaders including Joseph Kurup and Bernard Dompok.
Lacking a majority, Pairin was forced to resign, and Sakaran Dandai of Sabah Umno became chief minister.
This week, the state elections ended in a stalemate of 29 seats each to BN and its rival Parti Warisan Sabah and its Pakatan Harapan allies.
Last night, Musa Aman of Sabah BN was sworn in after obtaining the support of two assemblymen from STAR, giving BN a two-seat majority over Warisan-PH.
Less than 24 hours later, however, Warisan president Shafie Apdal announced that six assembly members had switched sides, giving him the support of 35 assembly members, for a simple majority.
Shafie, who was elected in Senallang, has been granted an audience with the governor, Juhar Mahiruddin, to present his case for being appointed chief minister.