Hajiji continues to strengthen GRS govt with appointments of political leaders

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has moved to further strengthen his government after reshuffling his state Cabinet last month by including more key leaders from various parties in the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-led administration.

On Wednesday (Feb 1), the Sabah Chief Minister appointed Sabah Pakatan Harapan’s Kapayan assemblyman Jannie Lasimbang as chairman of the Rural Development Corporation, or Korporasi Pembangunan Desa (KPD), which took effect from Jan 19.

At the same time, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili was named as chairman of the Energy Commission of Sabah (ECOS), some two months after losing his Kota Marudu MP seat in the 15th General Election (GE15) last November.

Both Lasimbang and Ongkili received their appointment letters from Hajiji in separate brief ceremonies at the latter’s office in Menara Kinabalu here.

These appointments came a day after the Chief Minister-cum-GRS chairman appointed former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman as his special advisor on international relations and foreign investment on Tuesday (Jan 31).

Anifah is the president of local political outfit Parti Cinta Sabah of which its application to join GRS was still pending.

Lasimbang, a two-term Sabah DAP assemblyman, was among seven Sabah Pakatan assemblymen who sided with GRS during last month’s political turmoil.

She replaced Datuk Raimie Unggi, a Sabah Barisan Nasional-Umno nominated assemblyman who was among those who supported the party’s move to sever ties with GRS on Jan 6 which triggered the political crisis.

Deputy Chief Minister I, Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also the Agriculture, Fishery and Food Industry Minister, Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Phoong Jin Zhe and State Secretary Datuk Seri Safar Untong were present to witness Hajiji present the appointment letter to Lasimbang.

Phoong, the Luyang assemblyman, is also from Sabah DAP.

Besides Lasimbang and Phoong, their Sabah DAP boss and Tanjong Papat rep Datuk Frankie Poon was named as the chairman of Sabah Development Berhad (SDB) earlier last month while Likas assemblyman and party colleague Tan Lee Fatt was appointed as the Sabah Assistant Finance Minister.

Sabah Pakatan chief and former state PKR head Datuk Christina Liew was also appointed as the state Tourism, Culture and Environment in the Cabinet reshuffle while her PKR colleague and Inanam rep Peto Galim was named as the Agriculture and Fisheries Assistant Minister in Hajiji’s state Cabinet.

Upko president and Kadamaian assemblyman Datuk Ewon Benedick has so far not been given any official state role but he is already a Federal minister in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government.

Meanwhile, in thanking Hajiji, Ongkili said the appointment was an honour for PBS.

"I will seek to serve ECOS and the energy industry of Sabah to the best of my ability," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said that Sabah has enormous strengths and potential in energy resources especially in green renewable sources such as solar, hydro, wind and biomass.

"We will ensure that any issues related to ECOS will be executed for the good of Sabah and Sabahans," he added.

Ongkili has vast experience as a four-term federal minister, including as the energy, green technology and water minister (KETTHA).

He was also a six-term MP from 1995 before he lost the Kota Marudu seat to Parti KDM candidate and deputy president Datuk Wetrom Bahanda in GE15.

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