Sabah think tank CEO was not sacked, explains chairman

A file picture Datuk Dr Johan Arriffin Samad (left) receiving his letter of appointment from IDS Chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun in November last year.

KOTA KINABALU: The simmering tension between two top officials of the Sabah govern­ment’s think tank is believed to have resulted in the sacking of Institute for Deve­lopment Studies (IDS) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Johan Ariffin Samad.

However, its chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, whose relations with Johan had been reportedly testy, played things down by saying that the IDS board had only decided not to confirm him as CEO at the end of his probation 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 or terminate his contract.

“The vote was done via secret ballot and the decision was not to confirm him as CEO. He was not sacked,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Sipaun said he was told that Johan had met Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal on Monday 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 said that as the chairman of a think tank, he wanted to do a “decent job” for the state government.

He said the IDS should remain a neutral think tank with minimum political inter­ference so that it could work effectively in assisting the state government.

After Parti Warisan Sabah took over the state government, Sipaun, a civil rights ­acti­vist, was appointed IDS chairman and Johan was subsequently hired to replace then CEO Datuk Mohd Hasnol Ayub, who is the nephew of former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.

According to IDS sources, the chairman and CEO had not been seeing eye-to-eye on ­va­rious issues pursued by IDS to the point that their relationship was even described as “hostile”.

Meanwhile, a WhatsApp message spread on social media, claiming that Shafie had asked Johan to stay on as the CEO.

Johan is believed to have told the Chief Minister that Sipaun had accused him of mismanagement via a letter dated March 18 which was copied to the board.

IDS’ role is to analyse public policy propo­sals and provide research feedback to the state government.

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