Malaysia PM Muhyiddin's GRS alliance resolves impasse over Sabah chief minister candidate

Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Chairman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor (centre) with Sabah Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (left) and Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Chairman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor (centre) with Sabah Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (left) and Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU - Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's party colleague Hajiji Mohd Noor will be sworn in as the new Sabah Chief Minister on Tuesday (Sept 29), after the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition won a closely-fought state elections in Malaysia's easternmost state on Saturday (Sept 26). 

GRS, a loose alliance of seven parties led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin, resolved an impasse over their pick of Chief Minister, after being locked in negotiations among allies for almost 36 hours since results were announced late on Saturday.

The main factions in GRS are Mr Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, Umno-led Barisan Nasional, and Parti bersatu Sabah.

Datuk Seri Hajiji was a personal pick of Mr Muhyiddin, who wanted the state Chief Minister to come from PN. However, the Barisan Nasional coalition, the biggest among federal Malaysia's ruling parties, had wanted the post for one of their candidates, Sabah BN chief Bung Moktar Radin. 

Despite insisting that Bung, who faces corruption charges in court, should be given the post until late on Sunday, BN chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Monday went along with the choice of Mr Hajiji as the consensus GRS chief minister.

 

Sabah Governor Juhar Mahirudin handed an invitation letter for the swearing in ceremony to Mr Hajiji late on Monday evening. The ceremony will take place at 10.30am on Tuesday.

GRS, which was troubled by internal friction throughout the campaign, earlier looked to have been unable to find a resolution to the tussle, and on Sunday the alliance asked Tan Sri Juhar to resolve the impasse by picking one of their two candidates. 

GRS' inability to resolve the impasse earlier seemed to leave a door open for outgoing Chief Minister Shafie Apdal to form a government instead. This was because his Parti Warisan Sabah was the party that won the most seats in the state assembly, 29 wards, though this was short of the minimum majority of 37 seats needed. 

GRS won 38 seats out of 73 on offer, while Warisan and its allies won 32. Independents won 3 seats, but the trio have since aligned with GRS, propping GRS numbers to 41. 

Earliler on Monday, rumours were rife that some GRS lawmakers could lend their support to Datuk Seri Shafie, thus enabling him to return as Chief Minister. 

Mr Shafie's residence saw continued activity since Sunday amid speculation that he could still form the state government, though his Warisan Plus alliance won 32 to GRS' 38. 

Warisan lawmakers said they were collecting statutory declarations of support from lawmakers, but Mr Shafie and his party members had kept mum about their next move. 

In the 2018 state elections, Sabah saw two different Chief Ministers sworn in three days. Tan Sri Musa Aman from BN was initially sworn in before Mr Shafie secured several defections and was sworn in two days later.

Mr Shafie emerged later from his house on Monday to thank his supporters and the media. Asked by reporters about the next move of his Warisan coalition, Mr Shafie said: "We will serve the people.”