KOTA KINABALU: Caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal seemed to have pulled the rug out from under the feet of his political nemesis Tan Sri Musa Aman who tried to take over the reins of the state government through a spate of defections.
Shafie managed to get Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin to consent to dissolve the state assembly to pave the way for a snap state election within 60 days from yesterday.
The call for a snap election broke weeks of determined attempts by the Opposition to topple the Parti Warisan Sabah-led coalition government with Sabah DAP, Upko and Sabah PKR.
This is the first time in Sabah’s history where the governor allowed the dissolution of the state assembly during a period of political turmoil with assemblymen crossing sides.
In 1994, the Parti Bersatu Sabah-led state government of Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan failed to dissolve the assembly when Barisan Nasional disputed the dissolution certificate allegedly signed by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Mohd Said Keruak.
Amid questions over the authenticity of the dissolution order and a spate of defections, Pairin subsequently resigned to make way for Barisan to take over the state through Sabah Umno chairman Tun Sakaran Dandai.
Shafie and Musa are sworn political enemies since their days together in Umno when Shafie blamed Musa for getting him suspended in June 2016 over his statements on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal.
Shafie went on to form Warisan that worked as a “friendly party” with Pakatan Harapan to take on the Sabah Barisan government led by Musa, who was Sabah’s longest serving chief minister of 15 years.
The 2018 general election left a hung state assembly with Barisan winning 29 seats and Warisan and its coalition partners winning 29 seats.
Another opposition party – Sabah STAR – led by Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan won two seats, making it the kingmaker.
Musa courted Sabah STAR and managed get himself sworn in as chief minister but he was sacked two days later with Juhar swearing in Shafie who got the support of Upko and other Umno assemblymen who crossed over.
Musa is still challenging his May 2018 dismissal by Juhar in the Federal Court.
He lost his bid at the High Court and at the Appeals Court previously.
Events over the last 24 hours saw 10 former Sabah Barisan assemblymen regrouping with Musa while one elected assemblyman, Kenny Chua, from Sabah PKR, and two nominated assemblyman from Sabah PKR and Sabah DAP gave Musa the 13 assemblymen needed to make the simple majority of 33 seats.
Shafie and Musa are now expected to face off again for the leadership of Sabah but many of those who switched camps might have a tough time convincing their electorates in the coming state elections.
At stake will be 73 seats – an increase of 13 seats from the last election – and Shafie wants voters to make their stand known through the ballot box.
“The people deserve better elected representatives, ” he said when announcing the dissolution amid the defections.
“It’s now up to the people but the choice has to be correct... they can soon decide whether they want Musa Aman, Bung Moktar Radin, Hajiji Noor or Shafie Apdal, ” Shafie said, adding that it was the best way to resolve the ongoing tussle for assemblymen.
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