Public calls are increasing for newly minted Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal to relinquish his state Finance portfolio.
Nearly 8,000 people have already signed an online petition to remind the Parti Warisan Sabah president along with his PKR and DAP partners to honour an election pledge that the Chief Minister would hold only one position.
The petition was started on Friday and now there are concerns over Shafie’s dual role even among his coalition partners.
They feel Shafie should take heed to the fact that even Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had backed off from also holding the education portfolio.
They also pointed out Shafie’s dual positions is being widely criticised by voters who fear it could lead to abuse.
“I think Shafie should know what to do,” said Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin.
Chan, who is also Kota Kinabalu MP, said he was aware of public sentiment over the issue.
He said Shafie had informed colleagues in the state Cabinet that he was holding the position as he needed to clean up the state Finance Ministry.
Other coalition partners feel the Chief Minister could rectify and monitor previous lopsided deals through an investigating task force without necessarily holding the Finance portfolio.
A PKR party official, who declined to be named, said the public feared the Chief Minister would be too powerful if he also held the finance portfolio.
Shafie, who also campaigned against the dual role held by predecessor Tan Sri Musa Aman, told reporters on Tuesday that there would be no conflict of interest or abuse.
He did not disclose how long he will hold the portfolio.
Shafie’s aides, who did not want to named, insisted it was only a temporary move but also did not offer a time frame.
Opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Kiulu assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai accused Shafie of using a lame excuse to blame Barisan Nasional to hold on to two positions.
He pointed out that the move was against the current state leadership promise, that was made when they were the opposition. – The Star