Sabahans can decide between Shafie and Musa.
Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today said Sabah governor Juhar Mahiruddin has consented to the dissolution of the state assembly, paving the way for a snap election in the state.
The Warisan president said the polls would be held within the next 60 days as stipulated by the state constitution to allow voters to decide if the mandate should remain with him or returned to his predecessor Musa Aman.
This follows claims by former chief minister Musa Aman who said yesterday that he had the numbers needed to form a new state government.
Shafie, who is Semporna MP, said he met with Juhar this morning.
“He has consented to the dissolution,” he told reporters here.
The announcement also follows talk that Musa was heading to the state palace to be sworn in as chief minister today.
Musa said yesterday that he had received statutory declarations from a number of assemblymen from various parties confirming their support for a new alliance he was leading.
“The next step is to meet the Sabah governor and hand him the statutory declarations from the assemblymen,” he said.
A total of 73 seats will be up for contest following the addition of 13 new seats endorsed in Parliament last year.
Shafie’s Warisan-led government came to power after defections from Barisan Nasional following the 2018 general election.
Speaking today, he said he could seek the governor’s consent to dissolve the state assembly as he was still chief minister.
“I am still chief minister of the day, and in terms of numbers, we still have the majority despite claims from the other side.”
Adding that the governor held absolute power to dissolve the assembly regardless of who had the greater numbers, he said he remained the caretaker chief minister for the next 60 days until the Election Commission sets a date for the polls.
At one point, he said, he had 45 statutory declarations from Sabah assemblymen aligned with Warisan.
“But some were weak in principle,” he added.
“Someone told me Sabah assemblymen are like handicraft that can be bought or sold easily. But I know the people of Sabah have their integrity.
“We know the values that matter in our lives, and we must protect the interests of Sabahans. So now we return the mandate to the people.”
He voiced regret over the situation given the current health crisis and upcoming celebrations for Hari Raya Aidiladha.
“But we must and can do something to overcome this (political) challenge. We will do our best,” he said.
He claimed that there had been attempts to pressure Warisan into supporting the Perikatan Nasional coalition which had taken over federal power after toppling Pakatan Harapan in February.
Shafie said he was reluctant to call for an early state election as he was mindful that the state’s residents, along with the rest of Malaysia, were still under immense pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, he said he concluded that one was necessary to resolve the continued harassment of the state’s assemblymen to try and secure their defections, adding that the ballot was the only way to ensure the people’s mandate was honoured.
“I still have the numbers and the right. I know I can persuade the assemblymen to stay by offering posts but do we want leaders who need to be persuaded? What is the meaning (of their service) then?
“We think it’s time to return the mandate to the people. We will face them there, and let the people decide. You can jump here and there but now it’s meaningless because we have dissolved the state assembly,” he said.
Shafie’s announcement today will frustrate the apparent attempt of his predecessor, Musa, to take over the state government by way of defection.
Musa was coincidentally acquitted of his corruption and money laundering charges last month.
The Sabah state election will be a bellwether for the federal PN coalition that is rumoured to be contemplating an early general election by the first half of next year.