No changes in Sabah Cabinet for now

KOTA KINABALU: All eyes are on Datuk Musa Aman and how he will compose the next state Cabinet as Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders welcomed his appointment as Sabah’s 13th Chief Minister. 

Datuk Chong Kah Kiat, whose two-year term under the Barisan’s Chief Minister rotation system ends on March 27, said it was Musa’s prerogative to decide on his 11-member state Cabinet. 

Chong’s Cabinet comprised six Muslim bumiputras, three Chinese leaders, and two non-Muslim bumiputra leaders. 

The Muslim leaders were from Umno, the non-Muslim bumiputra leaders were from Parti Upko and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah while Chong, the president of Liberal Democratic Party, and two others from Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) made up the three Chinese representatives in the Cabinet. 

At the KL International Airport, Musa, when met yesterday, said he would not be making any changes to the Cabinet for the time being.  

“I’m just the acting Chief Minister while Chong is on leave until March 27, so I’ll just carry on his duties as before,” he added. 

Yesterday, Chong and other Barisan leaders said the announcement of Musa’s appointment would put an end to uncertainty in the state government. 

Three key Sabah Umno leaders – Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Lajim Ukin, former chief minister Datuk Salleh Tun Said and state Cabinet minister Datuk Ghapur Salleh – who were also among the top runners for the job, accepted the decision of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

“It’s our president’s decision and I accept it. It is up to Musa to decide whether he needs me in the Cabinet,” said Lajim, while both Salleh and Ghapur said that it was up to Musa to fill the Cabinet posts. 

Ghapur, who is Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, said: “As party men, we will abide by the decision.”  

Other Barisan leaders who welcomed the selection of Musa were Party Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan whose party rejoined the state coalition last year. 

“We would rather not speculate. Despite our hopeful expectations, we will let the new chief minister decide,” said Pairin, when asked if he hoped PBS would be included in Musa’ Cabinet this time round. 

Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee and PBRS president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup both described Musa as an experienced and moderate leader. 

Kurup was confident that Musa’s Cabinet would reflect all the communities and based on merit.  

Parti Upko deputy president Datuk Wilfred Bumburing said that they did not anticipate much changes in the Cabinet till the next state elections.  

Sabah MCA information chief Jacob Yen described Musa as the “right choice” as he is from the business world with an administration and management background which would augur well for the state.  

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