Fight to helm Sabah state govt not over yet

  • Nation
  • Monday, 28 Sep 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The results of the Sabah state election are in, but the fight to helm the state government is still not over.Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, whose party won the largest chunk of the 73 seats, is said to still be eyeing to form a minority state government.

Having clinched 29 state seats, Warisan is the single largest party with the most number of seats and under the state constitution, the “first choice” for chief ministership.

Warisan, including DAP (six), which contested under the Warisan logo, and its partners PKR (two) and Upko (one) have a total of 32 seats against the 38 held by the informal coalition of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

Parties under GRS contested under three separate logos. After their victories, the three who won as Independents have pledged their support for GRS.

Legal observers said Perikatan Nasional was “second” with 17 seats (Bersatu 11 and Sabah STAR six), followed by Sabah Barisan Nasional (14) and Parti Bersatu Sabah’s (PBS) seven.“Although GRS is together under an alliance, it is not a registered political entity. As such, each of the three parties will be looked at as separate political entities unless they can convince others that they are a single force, ” said a lawyer who declined to be named.

The lawyer explained that under Article 6(3) of the state constitution, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri shall appoint as Chief Minister a member of the legislative assembly, whom in his judgement is likely to command the majority of the members in the Assembly.

But the lawyer said the Governor’s judgement on who commands the majority is spelt out under Article 6(7).

“It states that where a political party has won a majority of the elected seats in the assembly in a general election, the leader of such a political party ‘shall be of the member of the legislative assembly who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of members of the assembly’, ” he said.

The lawyer, who is well versed in the state constitution, said Shafie could be banking on Article 6(7) for his appointment.

“In such a case, he will likely lead a minority state government that could function administratively but will not be able to get fiscal Bills like budgets passed in assembly, ” he said.

Sources within Warisan said there were “hush hush” whispers going on between party men and leaders or middlemen from GRS.

“Even if Shafie gets to be sworn in, he will need to cobble together a majority government or his government could fall within two months, ” said a political analyst.

The Sabah state constitution allows for the Chief Minister to request the Yang di-Pertua Negeri to appoint six nominated assemblymen. But observers said even with the six, Shafie would still need at least three or four of the elected assemblymen to join him.

As at 1.30am yesterday, Shafie had not conceded defeat, indicating that he was the “biggest” party winner and hinting at his right under the constitution to be given the first chance at being appointed the Chief Minister.

Since 2am, when he last spoke to the press, Shafie has kept out of the media spotlight. A check outside his residence showed that all was quiet.

In Kuantan, Bernama reported Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah as saying that GRS’ win should not be an issue although the coalition had yet to be registered.

GRS, said the Indera Mahkota MP, was represented by candidates from registered parties – Perikatan, Barisan and PBS.

“This situation is similar to when Pakatan Harapan won the 14th General Election. Pakatan was a coalition name and not yet registered. All its candidates contested using the symbol of a registered party: PKR, ” he said.

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