Turmoil engulfs Sabah’s political situation again amid speculation that former chief minister Mohd Shafie Apdal is engineering the ouster of his successor, Hajiji Noor.
Sources from Warisan and Pakatan Harapan claimed that both leaders do not have the upper hand in the numbers game.
Shafie, who is the Warisan president, is expected to mount a “do or die” bid to topple Hajiji, the GRS chairperson, before a special sitting scheduled for next Tuesday, which could bolster the latter’s position.
If the former chief minister is unable to set the plan in motion before Jan 10, a source familiar with the situation said Shafie’s faction might push for a no-confidence vote against the incumbent leader but this must be approved by the speaker first.
The special sitting is to allow the Sabah government to table a motion on the transfer of the regulatory power for gas supply to the state from the federal government.
Speculation of a coup intensified yesterday when Warisan announced that Shafie would hold a press conference, with expectations running high that he would reveal the number of assemblypersons backing him.
However, after a two-hour wait, journalists were informed that the press conference had been cancelled.
Meanwhile, the source said Warisan, which has 19 assemblypersons, is confident that Hajiji does not have the numbers despite various quarters pledging their support for him.
Shafie or Hajiji must have the backing of at least 40 of the 79 state representatives for a simple majority.
Warisan, according to the source, believes it can still secure the support of the 17 Umno assemblypersons to form the state government despite conceding that yesterday’s presser was cancelled because the Umno representatives refused to declare their stand.
“You have to ask Hajiji how many (assemblypersons) he has…Warisan does not need to garner a simple majority in the event of a hung assembly.
“The situation is similar to what Anwar Ibrahim faced after the general election,” said the source, in reference to the Harapan chairperson not securing a simple majority at the federal level.
The source added that while Hajiji’s meeting with political parties yesterday was intended to be a “show of force”, photographs of the gathering on social media showed that only 35 assemblypersons were present.
Since only seven of the 17 Umno assemblypersons had turned up at the chief minister’s residence, this could be indicative of a split.
Malaysiakini has reached out to Umno and GRS for more details.
Another source from Warisan claimed that Harapan wants to be the kingmaker and Anwar is not willing to see a change of state government.
Confirming that Warisan had attempted to woo Harapan assemblypersons, a source from the coalition claimed that Shafie is expediting the coup to prevent defections to the GRS-BN government since the state has not passed the anti-hopping law.
The political battle across the South China Sea is a dilemma for Harapan since its repercussions could be felt in Putrajaya.
In a statement yesterday, Harapan’s seven assemblypersons in Sabah made it clear that they are not prepared to rock the boat.
It is in Harapan’s interest to avoid a state election and ensure GRS’ six MPs continue backing Anwar as prime minister.
In comparison, Warisan has three MPs, all of whom back Anwar as prime minister as well.
The Harapan seven said they would not support a government formed through the backdoor but at the same time, stopped short of expressing their backing for Hajiji’s administration.
FMT reported that Hajiji would be reshuffling his cabinet and is expected to axe Sabah Umno chief Bung Mokhtar Radin, who is also deputy chief minister, along with Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Jafry Ariffin.
It said that Hajiji intends to include Harapan assemblypersons in his cabinet.
Commenting on this, one of the sources from Harapan told Malaysiakini that the coalition is open to working with Hajiji to ensure a stable government.
The Harapan presidential council is expected to discuss this issue during its meeting in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow evening. – Malaysiakini