No urgency for Shafie to call for elections, say analysts

Sugut assemblyman James Ratib (seated second left) and Kuala Penyu rep Limus Jury (seated right), both of Upko, announcing they had become independents friendly to the Perikatan Nasional federal coalition.

KOTA KINABALU: The departure of two assemblymen from the ruling coalition has led to renewed talk about a fresh state election but two political analysts here believe that chief minister Shafie Apdal will hold on as long as he commands a majority.

Yesterday Sugut assemblyman James Ratib and Kuala Penyu assemblyman Limus Jury, both of Upko, withdrew from the Warisan-Upko-DAP-PKR state coalition to become independents supporting the Perikatan Nasional federal coalition.

Ratib had also claimed that more assemblymen would leave the ruling coalition.

However political analysts Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Tony Paridi Bagang of Sabah UiTM believe Shafie will not be forced into calling fresh elections as long as he still has the majority support in the state assembly.

Lee Kuok Tiung

Lee said the uncertainty at federal level would also have a bearing on whether a state election is needed.

“For the state level, with the statement from Shafie that they will fight (PN), it’s possible he will request the Yang di-Pertua Negeri to dissolve the state assembly. However, there is no urgency to do that yet,” Lee said. “As long as he feels he has the support, he’ll hold on,” Lee told FMT.

Bagang said even if Shafie requested a dissolution of the state assembly, TYT (the Yang Dipertua Negeri) would still need to give his consent.

Former Sabah Law Society president Brenndon Keith Soh said the Sabah TYT does not have to dissolve the state assembly even if the chief minister requested for it.

Tony Paridi Bagang

Soh said the state constitution clearly spelt out the discretionary powers of the head of state. The TYT may decide who has the confidence of the majority by external evidence such as statutory declarations or by interviews with the assemblymen.

He said the Yang Dipertua Negeri had discretion to decide whether to dissolve the state assembly.

Although the federal PN government has a slim majority in the Dewan Rakyat, the majority held by the state coalition is solid.

Brenndon Keith Soh

With the defection of Limus and Ratib, the state coalition holds 45 seats in the 65-seat state assembly, including four nominated assemblymen.

Another nominated rep, Jaffari Waliam, formerly of PKR, is an independent.

The next general election will be for 73 seats, after the Dewan Rakyat approved a motion to add 13 more seats last year. The seats are Bengkoka, Mangaris, Pintasan, Pantai Dalit, Darau, Tanjung Dumpil, Dambai, Tulid, Telupid, Sungai Manila, Lamag, Segama and Kukusan.

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