State Cabinet reshuffle best if PSB unwanted, says analyst

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg with Gabungan Parti Sarawak leaders at the coalition’s launch on Jan 19. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A political analyst says a state Cabinet reshuffle would be the best option if there are trust issues between Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), following calls from within the coalition for the two PSB leaders in the state government to be dropped.

Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said there was no point having PSB leaders in the state Cabinet if they were not friendly to GPS.

PSB has its origins in the United People’s Party, a splinter party of the predominantly Chinese Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).

SUPP is a component party of GPS, along with Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and the Progressive Democratic Party.

Although PSB is not part of GPS, its president Wong Soon Koh is Sarawak’s second finance minister while Jerip Susil is assistant transport minister.

PRS president James Masing said last month that he wanted these two dropped from the state administration.

He said the other component parties were united in not wanting PSB as part of the ruling coalition.

Describing the situation as “complex”, Jeniri said GPS must handle matters carefully.

“Any action will have its implications,” he said, adding that PSB is seen as more friendly towards Pakatan Harapan.

However, Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg is the only one with the authority to call for a Cabinet reshuffle in the state.

“The chief minister definitely wants to be seen as having the authority and not giving in to any pressure from within or outside of GPS,” he said.

He said Masing, as a deputy chief minister, should have discussed the matter with Abang Johari instead of speaking to the media, which he said would only complicate the situation even more.

Talk of a reshuffle of the state Cabinet by the end of the month was earlier reported by Sin Chew Daily Sarawak.

The report said Abang Johari had been planning the move with the advice of several GPS leaders.

However, the chief minister later said he was unaware of the report.

“How can I clarify (this report) when I don’t even know (about it)? I don’t know, don’t tell me a chief minister (wouldn’t) know (that),” he said.