KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah president Shafie Apdal today maintained that he is the rightful chief minister and that the state government he leads is the legal Sabah administration.
Speaking to reporters after attending the first Sabah legislative assembly sitting here today, Shafie said it was up to representatives outside the Warisan-Pakatan Harapan-Upko coalition whether or not to recognise him as the chief minister.
“I can’t force them to do so. I know I am the legal chief minister because everybody seems to recognise us.
“The important thing is that we follow the rule of law. Although they are now taking action against us, we know we follow the rules.”
He added that there must be a clear separation of power between the judiciary and the legislature.
“The state assembly is the highest legislature body in the state, passing enactments for the state, and the court is only a body to implement the laws.”
Shafie, who is also Senallang assemblyman, said the opposition representatives were advised to retake their oaths earlier this morning because the first swearing-in carried out in the speaker’s office on June 12 was deemed improper.
He said although it was not invalid, any swearing-in ceremony by elected representatives must follow the rules stipulated in the standing order which states that the swearing-in must be done before the head of state’s official “cokmar” (ceremonial mace).
He commended the speaker’s office for advising the opposition representatives to retake their oaths according to conventional rule, adding that failure to do so would have set a bad precedent.
“We don’t want, after another election, for anybody to be able to go to the speaker’s office and take their oaths without prior consent from the head of state,” he added.
The elected representatives of the coalition government took their oaths on June 11 at a special state assembly sitting which also saw Shafie winning the majority support from 39 out of 60 assemblymen.
Commenting on the sitting scheduled for tomorrow, Shafie said he hoped the opposition representatives would do their part and represent their constituents.
“I have been there in so many parliamentary sittings. There is nothing new to it. They have the right to attend – nobody can stop them – and they can ask as many questions as allowed by the speaker, especially during the questions to the chief minister session.”
Earlier, opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan said the assemblymen’s attendance at the first sitting did not mean they were acknowledging the state government as legitimate.
Only former chief minister Musa Aman, who retained his Sungai Sibuga state seat, has yet to be sworn in.
Musa has until Aug 9 to take his oath as an assemblyman, failing which he risks losing the seat. If this happens, a by-election will be held.
The first scheduled Sabah state assembly sitting will be held for three days from tomorrow until Thursday.