KUCHING: A political analyst has questioned the absence of Serian MP Richard Riot in the Cabinet line-up announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday, saying he should have been included as he is the sole representative of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) in Parliament.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Dick Lembang Dugun said SUPP is also one of the component parties of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which forms the federal government together with PPBM, Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS.
He speculated that Riot’s exclusion could be due to recent talk that the SUPP deputy president had joined PKR, despite the latter’s insistence that he remains a member of SUPP.
“The issue could have led to a trust deficit among GPS leaders,” Dugun said, referring also to allegations of power abuse against Riot during his time as human resources minister under BN.
He said Muhyiddin himself had said he would only appoint Cabinet members who have integrity and a clean track record.
Adding that GPS must be fair to its component parties, he said SUPP could instead be given a chance to nominate one of its members as a senator to represent the party at the federal level.
Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi also noted talk that Riot had joined PKR, saying there were likely fears that he would hop to the Pakatan Harapan component party after being given a Cabinet position.
“There is a lack of trust among GPS leaders in Riot due to his track record,” he said, adding that Riot had been in several parties before joining SUPP.
Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Jayum Jawan however said SUPP was not the only party without representation in the federal Cabinet.
Noting that all four Sarawak ministers are from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), he said SUPP, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are considered weak and are not in a position to make demands.
“In fact, it’s good that some of them have been given positions as deputy ministers,” he added.
PDP’s Tiong King Sing is the deputy minister for national unity while PRS’ Aaron Ago Dagang is the deputy minister for health.
Other GPS leaders in the federal Cabinet are Works Minister Fadillah Yusof; Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri; Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar; Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi; Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah/Sarawak Affairs) Hanifah Hajar Taib and Rural Development II Deputy Minister Henry Sum Agong.