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Sabah Cabinet reshuffle not the unity government PM Anwar wants, says UMNO state chief

Sabah Cabinet reshuffle not the unity government PM Anwar wants, says UMNO state chief

Sabah United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) chief Bung Moktar Radin giving a speech at Kota Belud, Sabah on Sep 10, 2022. (Photo: Facebook/BN COMMS)

KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah deputy chief minister Bung Moktar Radin has claimed the state’s reshuffled Cabinet is not the idea of a unity government as previously mooted by Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. 

According to local media, Mr Bung Moktar said on Wednesday (Jan 11) the two United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) assemblymen included in Mr Hajiji’s Noor new Cabinet did not represent the party. 

The two are Deputy Chief Minister and Works Minister Shahelmey Yahya as well as Community Development and People’s Wellbeing Minister James Ratib. 

They were among five assemblymen from UMNO who had previously broken ranks and publicly announced their support for Mr Hajiji.

Mr Bung Mokhtar, the Sabah UMNO chief, was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today that the two assemblymen were not recognised by the party. 

“Hajiji cannot say (that they are representing UMNO) or recognise them as representing the party in his Cabinet line-up,” Mr Bung Mokhtar reportedly said.

The news portal added that Mr Bung Mokhtar will raise the inclusion of the two assemblymen in the state’s Cabinet with UMNO’s disciplinary board as well as party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Separately, Mr Shahelmey - who replaced Mr Bung Mokhtar as deputy chief minister and works minister in the reshuffle - said that the new Cabinet under Mr Hajiji aligns with Mr Anwar’s idea of a unity state government. 

He said: “This is part of the formula for a unity government, because with the three new faces in the Cabinet - we have Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the line-up.”

Mr Shahelmy also affirmed his position as an UMNO member, saying that he has yet to hear from the party’s leadership over his decision to support Mr Hajiji.

“I am still an UMNO member,” he told Free Malaysia Today. 


Mr Bung Moktar said that Sabah UMNO, in its capacity as the opposition, was ready to play its role as a check and balance against the state administration. 

He urged Mr Hajiji to be fair to his Cabinet colleagues and not interfere with the running of their ministries. 

“Don’t just seek to garner profits while neglecting the people. Bring about change for Sabah and its people,” he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Hajiji had reshuffled the state Cabinet following the collapse of the state government when Mr Bung Moktar pulled BN’s state assemblymen from the 27-month-old coalition government due to a loss of confidence in the leadership of the chief minister.

Mr Hajiji said that the Cabinet reshuffle was needed to further strengthen the state government.

“It is important for the state government under my leadership to function as a united team, sharing similar aspirations that are built upon a foundation of trust and respect,” he said. 

During the political impasse in Sabah, Mr Anwar on Monday gave his blessings to Mr Hajiji to remain as the state’s chief minister. Mr Anwar told the media then that he wants the Sabah state government to remain strong under Mr Hajiji’s leadership.

It was also previously reported that Mr Anwar had mooted the idea of a unity government to be formed in the state.

Before the political shake-up, Sabah was led by a Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and BN alliance. The bloc had 46 lawmakers – 29 from GRS and 17 from BN. The coalition was also backed by 14 other assembly members, including those from PH and other smaller parties.

A minimum of 40 seats is needed for any party or coalition to obtain a simple majority in order to form the state government.

Source: Agencies/ya(as)


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