KOTA KINABALU: The simmering tension between two top officials in the Sabah government’s think tank came to a head with the sacking of the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Johan Ariffin Samad.
However, IDS chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, whose relationship with Dr Johan was reportedly testy, said Johan was not sacked.
He said the IDS board decided not to confirm him as CEO at the end of his six-month probation period on May 31.
Sipaun, a former Sabah state secretary, said the board met on May 29 to decide on whether to confirm Johan as CEO.
“The vote was done via a secret ballot, and it was decided not to confirm him as CEO. He was not sacked,” he said when contacted Tuesday (June 4).
Sipaun said he was told that Johan had gone to meet Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal on Monday (June 3) to discuss the board’s decision.
“The Chief Minister has not called me, but I will explain the decision if he calls,” he said.
He added that his aim for IDS, as a state think tank, was for it to do a decent job for the state government.
He felt that IDS should remain a neutral think tank with less political interference in order to work effectively in assisting the government.
After Parti Warisan Sabah took over government, Sipaun, a civil rights activist, was appointed chairman and Johan was subsequently hired to replace then CEO Datuk Mohd Hasnol Ayub, the nephew of former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.
According to IDS sources, the chairman and chief executive officer did not see eye to eye on various issues. In fact, their relationship was described as “hostile.”
Johan could not be contacted immediately over the development, but a WhatsApp message making the rounds, claimed that Shafie had asked Johan to stay on as CEO.
Dr Johan told the Chief Minister that Sipaun had accused him of mismanagement via a letter on March 18 that was copied to the board members.
IDS is an independent state think tank that helps analyse public policy proposals and provide research feedback for the state government.