Who will benefit from ‘following the rules’ in IDS tug-of-war?

The ongoing power struggle between Simon Sipaun, the chairman of IDS Sabah, and its CEO Johan Ariffin Samad is reaching fever pitch.

IDS, the Institute of Development Studies, is the think tank of the Sabah government. Since its inception in the mid-80’s, it has been helmed by some of Sabah’s best and brightest.

The state governments of the past and present have all in one way or another relied on the in-depth studies carried out by the institute to formulate various policies that have helped the government strategise and plan certain policies.

The tug-of-war between its chairman and CEO has therefore raised eyebrows. Many assume that this is the result of a personality clash.

However, things took a slightly more intriguing turn when Deputy Chief Minister Matthaus Tangau – who is also the Upko president – decided to join in the fray.

While Sabah’s other two deputy ministers, Christina Liew and Jaujan Sambakong, have shied away from this controversy, Tangau has called on everyone to “follow the rules” to resolve the IDS leadership crisis.

On the surface it seems to be a logical call, but unfortunately for Tangau, it is a double-edged sword as the individual tipped to succeed Johan is the one-time adviser to the Penampang Upko division and the current deputy CEO of IDS, Anthony Kiob.

Anthony was previously the CEO of YIM (Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia), which fell under the purview of the science, technology and environment ministry headed by Tangau when he was a federal minister under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. Since defecting from BN (despite winning on the coalition’s ticket), Upko has become a part of the Sabah government.

Meanwhile, Shafie Apdal, the chief minister and Warisan president, has stated that he will make it his priority to resolve the stand-off.

He has already met up with Johan to hear his side of the story and will, in the coming days, speak to Sipaun. Only then will he offer a solution and a compromise so that IDS can continue with its vital role in assisting his administration.

In the meantime, it would be to everyone’s advantage to let the situation cool down a little and allow common sense to prevail without putting undue pressure on Shafie through innuendos and unfounded accusations as he looks for a win-win situation to solve this impasse.

VB Peter is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.