KOTA KINABALU: Newly-minted Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has been urged to relinquish his state Finance portfolio in keeping with the election manifesto and campaign promises.
An online petition urging the Parti Warisan Sabah president to appoint another person to hold the state Finance Minister post in the new government has been garnering support.
It calls on Shafie and his partners in PKR and DAP to honour the pledge which stated that the Chief Minister will hold only one position.
Nearly 8,000 people have already signed the petition which was put up a day earlier.
Concerns over the dual role of the Chief Minister is also growing among some members of the Sabah coalition partners.
With Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad backing off from a second portfolio, some within the Sabah coalition feel that Shafie should also do the same.
They explained that the dual position held by the Chief Minister was widely criticised by voters who feared it might be subject to abuse in due time.
"I think Shafie should know what to do," Sabah DAP secretary Chan Fong Hin said referring to Dr Mahathir's move not to take up the Education Ministry.
Chan, the Kota Kinabalu MP, said he was aware of public sentiment over the issue and explained that Shafie had informed his colleagues in the state assembly that he was holding the position as he needed to clean up the Finance Ministry.
Other coalition partners felt that as Chief Minister, he could monitor wrong doings on lopsided deals through special investigating tasks forces without necessarily sitting as Finance Minister.
A PKR party official, who declined to be named, also indicated that public sentiment about the issue was high as they felt it would make Chief Minister "very powerful".
Shafie, who campaigned against the dual position held by his predecessor Tan Sri Musa Aman, told reporters on Tuesday that there will be no conflict of interest and the dual position would not be subject to any abuse under him. He did not disclose how long he will hold the portfolio.
Shafie aides, who did not want to named, insisted that it was a temporary move but did not want to offer a time frame.
Opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Kiulu assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai accused Shafie of going against the promises made during the campaign.
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