KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was sworn in as Sabah’s 14th Chief Minister that marks the end of Umno’s 24-year grip on the state.
The 60-year-old former Umno vice-president was sworn in at 9.30pm yesterday by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin. His appointment saw the end of Tan Sri Musa Aman’s leadership.
However, Shafie’s swearing-in ceremony has raised questions of constitutional legality after Musa was sworn in as Chief Minister less than 48 hours earlier at 11pm on Thursday. It now appears that Sabah has two chief ministers. The legality of the appointments is now likely to lead to court battles ahead.
Although Musa and his Cabinet members have not resigned, it is understood that they acceded to pressure to move out as the Yang di-Pertua Negri has now recognised Shafie as the legal chief minister.
Shafie and Warisan have maintained that Thursday’s swearing-in of Musa was illegal, saying that Warisan had the numbers to form the state government.
Shafie, the Bajau warlord from Semporna, managed to unite Sabahans under a multi-racial Warisan after he left Umno. He campaigned for more state rights and the need to honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Warisan and its partners PKR and DAP won 29 seats that were tied with Barisan’s 29 state seats, with Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s Sabah STAR winning two seats.
Musa managed to get Sabah STAR’s support to rush his appointment as chief minister for the fourth term. But six assemblymen defected almost immediately. Musa thus lost his majority, triggering a demand for him to step down.
Two hours before Shafie was sworn in, Musa issued a statement that he had not resigned as Chief Minister, but that he and his officials had vacated the Chief Minister’s official residence Seri Gaya.
Police have set up roadblocks between Istana Negeri and Seri Gaya, while supporters gathered at Padang Merdeka below the Istana cheering the appointment of Shafie.
The latest drama is reminiscent of the 1985 incident when both Parti Bersatu Sabah president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Usno president Tun Mustapha Harun became chief ministers.
The resulting court battle ended in favour of Pairin.