Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has given the thumbs up to the new Sabah Cabinet line-up, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
“Yes, he already called the Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor) last night,” said the Deputy Chief Minister when asked if the Premier was happy with the new state Cabinet.
He said this briefly to the media outside Istana Seri Kinabalu, where he and other state leaders attended the swearing-in of new ministers in the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-led government on Wednesday (Jan 11).
Kitingan, who is also Sabah STAR president, said the move to appoint the new Cabinet, which did not include Sabah Barisan Nasional, Parti Warisan and Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM), was a decision by the state itself.
Anwar had proposed that Hajiji form a Sabah unity government to include all the parties in the state.
Kitingan said he was also happy with the new line-up.
“Yes, it’s more complete. At this moment, this set-up is very good,” he said.
Among the new faces in the line-up were Sabah Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Christina Liew (PKR) and Phoong Jin Zhe (DAP).
Liew was appointed state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, a portfolio she held during the Warisan-led administration from 2018 to 2020, while Phoong was made Industrial Development Minister.
Datuk Shahelmey Yahya was appointed Deputy Chief Minister III and state Works Minister, replacing Sabah Barisan chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.
Datuk James Ratib was named Community Development and People’s Wellbeing Minister, taking over from Shahelmey.
Both Shahelmey and James were among the five Sabah Umno dissidents who broke ranks with Sabah Barisan’s move to pull its support from the Hajiji-led GRS government.
Meanwhile, after being dropped as deputy chief minister, Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin says the game is still on.
He said the new cabinet line-up announced by Hajiji was not the unity government which the party wanted.
He said the two Umno assemblymen – Shahelmey and James – who were included in Hajiji’s cabinet did not represent the party and were not recognised by Sabah Umno.
“Umno has consistently refused to cooperate with Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Hajiji cannot claim to appoint them to represent Umno Barisan Nasional (BN) unless they are appointed in a personal capacity.
“The party will review the action of those who have cheated Umno…this will be discussed with the party president,” he said in a statement today.
Bung Moktar also described the appointment as ignoring Anwar’s advice and recommendations regarding the establishment of a unity government in Sabah.
“It must be remembered that the formation of a unity government, BN also helped, and this matter needs to be looked at by the Chief Minister,” he said, adding that Sabah’s political turmoil has not ended with the appointment of new Cabinet members.
“The game still on,” he said, repeating his previous statement when Hajiji explained that he had majority support with 44 assemblymen in his favour.
In a related matter, Bung Moktar reminded Hajiji to be fair with his Cabinet colleagues without directly interfering in the administration of their respective ministries.
Bung Moktar added that Sabah Umno is also ready to be an effective opposition in the State Legislative Assembly following the political situation in the state.