KOTA KINABALU: Two youthful leaders will be the face of Sabah in the “unity Cabinet” of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Newly-elected Penampang MP, Kadamaian assemblyman and Upko’s incoming president Datuk Ewon Benedick, 39, was named Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister.
Papar MP Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali, 45, of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) will be in charge of Sabah and Sarawak as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department portfolio.
Both leaders will need to take on the additional burden of pushing for Sabah’s immediate development needs.
“It is going to be a challenging task. It is my first time as a federal minister and the task given is to help resolve the long-time demands of the people of Borneo,” said Armizan.
He said the people of Sabah and Sarawak wanted to see the two regions strengthened and recognised as part of the Malaysian federation.
“It will be a very interesting and challenging responsibility,” he said, adding that there was a need at the federal level to comply with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Armizan said that he was part of former federal minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili’s team that handled the issue of the Borneo states’ rights, adding that he has also been involved with the issue under Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor’s team since 2020.
He described his ministerial appointment as a surprise, with Anwar calling him to check if he was in Kuala Lumpur just a few minutes before naming the unity Cabinet on Friday night.
Armizan is the treasurer of Bersatu’s Sabah chapter, which is a member of the GRS coalition that gave its backing to Anwar’s unity government after initially supporting Perikatan Nasional’s Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
As for Benedick, he said he was honoured by the appointment and looked forward to tackling not only the issues of his ministry but also matters linked to Sabah’s development needs and rights.
“Being one of two representatives from Sabah, I look forward to raising issues ... for the people of Sabah.
“I hope to work closely with my fellow Cabinet members on the solution to such matters, especially on Sabah rights,” said Benedick, who is expected to take over as Upko president from Tuaran MP Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau during the party congress next month.
Benedick was Sabah’s rural development minister for two years under the Warisan Plus state government (2018-2020).
He said he was looking forward to pushing entrepreneur development in the country while not neglecting his Penampang and Kadamaian constituencies, which also need development.