Warisan will restore Article 6(7) in Sabah Constitution if it comes to power, says Shafie

Shafie (fourth from left) launching Warisan’s Chinese New Year gathering in Kota Kinabalu on Friday night (Feb 23).

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has vowed to reinstate a clause in the Sabah Constitution that guides the Governor in choosing a Chief Minister if Parti Warisan came back to power after the next state elections.

The Warisan president said Article 6(7) was democratically critical in guiding the Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri (TYT) in selecting a rightful chief minister after an election.

This Article was removed from the state constitution during a Sabah Legislative Assembly sitting last May.

He claimed that the present state government, led by the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition, had deliberately wanted to remove the clause in order to stay in power.

The now-deleted Article 6(7) had said the choice of possible “Chief Minister” is to come from the leader of the party with the majority seats.

“But when have GRS contested in the (2020 Sabah election)?” Shafie asked during Warisan’s Chinese New Year celebration attended by some 1,000 members and supporters here on Friday night (Feb 23).

The Sabah Opposition leader added that Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan Rakyat), which is the anchor party of GRS, was also only born in 2022.

He said the law was introduced by the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government led by former chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan in 1990.

“This was in the Constitution but because they wanted the chief minister’s position, this clause was deleted.

“They changed the Constitution just for the sake of becoming chief minister, is that right for local leaders not to respect the Sabah constitution? (We should have) preserved that.

“If we manage to become the next government, I want to reinstate Article 6(7), to be read together with Article 6(3), to make sure it is a democratic process,” Shafie said, to loud applause from the floor.

“I don’t mind not becoming chief minister, I’m not crazy to become the chief minister but I am crazy to serve my Sabahans and the state of Sabah,” added the former chief minister.

Article 6(3) of the Sabah constitution reads: “The Yang di-Pertua Negeri shall appoint as Chief Minister a member of the Legislative Assembly who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Assembly and shall appoint the other members mentioned in Clause (2) in accordance with the advice of the Chief Minister from among the members of the Assembly.”

Article 6(7) reads: "For the purpose of Clause (3) (TYT's appointment of a CM) of this Article, where a political party has won a majority of the elected seats of the Legislative Assembly in a general election, the leader of such political party, who is a member of the Legislative Assembly, shall be the member of the Legislative Assembly who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly".

On May 25 last year, the Sabah Legislative Assembly passed a law to stop party hopping, but at the same time, gave the green light to remove Article 6(7).

The deletion of Article 6(7) was tabled together with the anti-party hopping Bill.

Shafie was among the assemblymen including Datuk Darell Leiking (Warisan-Moyog) and Datuk Ewon Benedick (Pakatan Harapan-Kadamaian) who supported the anti-party hopping amendment but voiced objections to the removal of Article 6(7).

The Article, dubbed the “anti-power grab” law, was introduced on May 25, 1990, by the PBS government to stop losing parties from forming a government by utilising six nominated assemblymen to attain a “majority”, a feature unique to Sabah’s legislative assembly.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had explained when tabling the Bill that the rationale behind removing Article 6(7) was that it was no longer relevant to the appointment of the chief minister under Article 6(3) due to the current political situation.

He added that the amendment would give the governor more leeway in deciding who to pick as chief minister.

In the Sept 26, 2020 Sabah elections, Warisan Plus, comprising DAP, PKR, Amanah and Upko besides Warisan, contested against the then loose GRS coalition which consisted of Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional and PBS.

Warisan Plus had won 32 out of the 73 seats available, including 29 seats outright by Warisan, which comprised seats won by DAP that had contested under the Warisan flag.

The GRS group had, however, claimed victory after winning 38 seats, with Perikatan obtaining 17 seats, Barisan (14) and PBS (seven).

Three victorious independent candidates had also pledged support for the winning GRS faction at the time.

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