KOTA KINABALU: Exactly 10 years to the week after being toppled, Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan is back in the 11-member Sabah Barisan Nasional Cabinet of Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman as his deputy.
Pairin, who held the helm of his PBS state government until its downfall on March 17, 1994, was also named state Rural Development Minister in the Cabinet that saw four new faces and a shuffle among the former Cabinet members.
Promoted from the previous Cabinet to be deputy chief ministers are Liberal Democratic Party president and former chief minister Datuk Chong Kah Kiat and Sabah Umno secretary Datuk Yahya Hussin.
Chong retained his state Tourism, Culture and Environment portfolio while Yahya took over as Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister from Sabah Progressive Party deputy president Datuk Raymond Tan who was made Infrastructure Development Minister in a portfolio swap.
Pairin replaced Parti Upko secretary-general Datuk Wences Anggang who lost his Kuala Penyu seat while Chong took over the portfolio from Sabah Progressive Party deputy president Datuk Tham Nyip Shen who did not defend his Elopura state seat.
Dropped from the line-up of Musa who keeps his Finance portfolio, were Umno supreme council member Datuk Lajim Ukin and Parti Bersatu president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup both of whom crossed over to Barisan that led to the fall of Pairin’s PBS government.
“It’s a working Cabinet. I have a combination of professionals ranging from economists, lawyers and doctors,” said Musa.
He was speaking to reporters at his office here after witnessing the swearing in of 10 Cabinet ministers and 14 assistant ministers by Yang Di Pertua Negeri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah at Istana Negeri.
The new faces were PBS deputy president Dr Yee Moh Chai as Resource Development and Information Technology Minister and Parti Upko vice president Datuk Ewon Ebin was appointed Industrial Development Minister.
The others were Sabah Umno treasurer Datuk Hajiji Noor (Local Government and Housing Minister) and Ranau Umno chief Datuk Masidi Manjun (Youth and Sports Minister).
Retained were Sabah Umno information chief Datuk Rahim Ismail as Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, Datuk Nasir Sakaran moved to Minister in Chief Minister’s Department from the Rural Development Ministry.
Musa named 11 new assistant minister posts among the 14.They include Sabah MCA chairman Datuk Edward Khoo as assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Department giving the national-based party its first state government position since spreading its wings to Sabah in 1991.
Musa also brought in PBS secretary-general Datuk Radin Malleh, former Sabah Umno Youth chief Datuk Tawfiq Titingan, PBS vice-president Edward Yong Oui Fah and Upko’s Bobby Suan as assistant ministers.
Musa said both Kurup and Lajim had agreed to be left out.
“Lajim felt that he had held a minister’s post for a long time and Kurup told me that he was giving way to other Kadazandusun colleagues.”
On the appointment of two former chief ministers – Pairin and Chong – as his deputies, he replied; “I am very lucky to have both of them (Pairin and Chong), they have wide experience to help me develop the state,” he said.