KOTA KINABALU: The appointment of DAP’s Penang-born “Sabahan” as a state nominated assemblyman is drawing more flak with opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah describing it as a dangerous precedent.
PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili says the Warisan government is showing little respect to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Ongkili said he feared that the decision would open the floodgates for non-Sabahans and peninsula-based party leaders to occupy political positions in the Sabah administration.
“It shows how the Warisan government thinks very little of the MA63.
“They are not a defender of our sacred MA63,” said Ongkili in response to the recent appointment of Sabah DAP treasurer Loh Ee Eng (pic) as a nominated assemblyman under the DAP quota.
The Kota Marudu MP explained that the provision to allow for the appointment of six nominated assemblymen under the state constitution was meant for minority groups in the state to have a say in the assembly.
“The minority groups are meant to include smaller native communities not represented in the normal democratic process of elections because of their small numbers in rural constituencies.
“The nominated assemblymen provision was also meant to pave the way for the appointment of outstanding local professionals to balance the ethnic composition of the elected assembly,” Ongkili said after checking out eco-tourism potential at Marudu Bay.
He said the foundations of the MA63 were to safeguard the interests of Sabah and Sarawak and show priority to officers and
leaders of local or native origin in appointments for nominated assemblymen and other posts.
Loh is a permanent resident of Sabah and had moved to the state from Penang with his parents four decades ago.
Sabah DAP, meanwhile, defended their choice of Loh.
Its secretary Chan Fong Hin said that those raising the issue were just being malicious and were sore that they were unable to achieve such a position.
“The nomination of Loh as a nominated state assemblyman is in line with Sabah’s position, right and privilege as agreed in the MA63 as Loh is a permanent resident of Sabah.
“Therefore, there is no problem with his nomination,” Chan said in a statement.
He said Loh was given permanent resident status in 1999 and his identity card carries the letter “H” that refers to his Sabahan status.
He also noted that the Yang di-Pertua Negeri had awarded the Ahli Darjah Kinabalu (ADK) medal to Loh in 1999.
“This clearly shows that Loh has indeed made contributions and services to the state of Sabah and the same is acknowledged by the state,” he said.
Chan said that Loh was chosen by Sabah DAP as he was a senior party official holding the Sabah DAP treasurer post.
Chan also does not believe it is an issue because even Sarawak-born Datuk Peter Hii Chang Lik was appointed as Sandakan Municipal Council president.
“In a similar manner, Penny Wong, who was born in Sabah, could be appointed a federal minister in the Australian Cabinet after becoming an Australian citizen by way of naturalisation,” he added.