Shafie playing it safe by supporting both Dr M and fed govt, say analysts

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (seated, centre) with Sabah MPs and assemblymen in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is playing it safe by stating Sabah is pledging allegiance to Dr Mahathir Mohamad but at the same time expressing its readiness to cooperate with the federal government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak deputy dean Arnold Puyok noted it was a calculated and cautious move by the Warisan president.

Arnold Puyok

“I think Muhyiddin will not shut the door completely on Warisan. And given the political uncertainties at the federal level, by supporting Mahathir, Warisan is keeping its options open.

“The new federal government or coalition is looking fragile at the moment. So, I don’t think Muhyiddin is willing to be on a collision course with any potential allies,” he told FMT.

Should federal funds or assistance suddenly trickle down or stop, he said this will not reflect well on the federal government or the prime minister as this would be seen as a form of retaliation against Sabah.

Shafie yesterday said Sabah would maintain the government-to-government relations with the federal administration to ensure Sabah and its people continue to benefit in terms of development and other matters like health, education and security.

Lee Kuok Tiung

He made it clear, however, that the state government, comprising Warisan, PKR, DAP and Upko, is backing Mahathir.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah senior lecturer Lee Kuok Tiung agreed that the priority for Muhyiddin for now is making sure his house is in order, adding he doesn’t have a federal government to begin with so far.

“We will not see much development on this at this time as Muhyiddin needs to settle his federal Cabinet first.

“Muhyiddin needs to appoint his Cabinet members and, besides that, one of his main challenges soon is to prepare for the possibility of a no-confidence vote against him when the Dewan Rakyat sits on May 18,” he said.

Tony Paridi Bagang

Sabah UiTM’s Tony Paridi Bagang, meanwhile, believes the stance taken by Shafie is a firm and brave one based on principles.

This will, however, be a test to the federal-state relations, whether both can put aside their political differences for the sake of the people.

“Being an opposition state should be no problem, provided they can deliver what is due to the rakyat.

“Warisan must be consistent and bold in pursuing the state’s rights. Having said that, they should also be ready for whatever consequences that may come,” he said.