Choice of Penang-born DAP man as nominated rep stays, says CM

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal mingling with guests at the state-level Hari Raya open house in Likas, Kota Kinabalu, today.

KOTA KINABALU: The appointment of a Penang-born Sabah DAP member as a nominated assemblyman is final, Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said today, telling those harping on the issue to move on.

Shafie said the Cabinet will not review its decision to accept the DAP’s recommendation that its state treasurer, Ronnie Loh Ee Eng, be made a nominated assemblyman.

He said Loh’s name had been suggested by the party, which had been given the quota to fill.

“Therefore, we should respect their proposal,” he told reporters at the Sabah government’s Hari Raya open house at Menara Tun Mustapha here today.

Shafie said there was no law to prevent Loh, a permanent resident, from being nominated as an assemblyman.

Former Sabah PKR executive secretary A Rashid Yusof had initially raised the issue of Loh’s appointment.

Although he acknowledged later that the decision was DAP’s, he said the party should have named a Sabahan for the post.

Following that, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) joined in the debate, with its president Maximus Ongkili saying the decision to choose a non-Sabahan was against the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

He said the Warisan-led government was setting a “dangerous” precedent.

United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) information chief Musli Oli also questioned Loh’s appointment. He said that historically, the posts of nominated assemblymen were intended to give a voice to minority groups in Sabah.

However, Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin defended Loh’s nomination, saying that those playing up the issue were being “malicious”.

Chan said the nomination was in line with Sabah’s position, rights and privileges, as agreed in MA63, as Loh was a permanent resident.

He also rubbished claims that Sabah DAP had neglected the indigenous community by naming Loh to the position, and pointed out that the party had pushed for many natives to be in high government positions.

For example, he said Adrian Lasimbang was appointed a senator, Noorita Sual was named to contest the Tenom MP’s seat in GE14, which she won, and Kepayan assemblyman Jannie Lasimbang is now a state assistant minister.

The chief minister can name up to six nominated assemblymen.