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Sabah Cabinet set for reshuffle?

Will PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan
step aside as Sabah Deputy Chief Minsiter
to give way to his colleague Dr Yee Mo Chai?
KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) deputy president, Dr Yee Moh Chai, is tipped to be appointed a Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) of Sabah to replace Peter Pang En Yin, who was on Wednesday dropped from the post  a day after he joined Gerakan.

Should Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman deem it fit to appoint Yee, then PBS would have an unprecedented two DCMs in the state government.

PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan is a DCM, and also the Infrastructure Development Minister.

Pang, whom Musa has retained as a State Youth and Sports Minister, was in nowhere land for six months after he ditched his party Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and disassociated himself from LDP’s constant criticism of Musa’s leadership.

Pang’s position as a DCM became untenable after he announced his move to peninsula-based Gerakan.

Gerakan, however, will not be too concerned about Pang’s exit, given that it now has two Cabinet posts in the state government despite not having contested in the the last election.

Meanwhile, one other contender for the DCM post is the sole MCA assemblyman, Edward Khoo.

Khoo has been clamouring for the position to be given to MCA.

Not constitutional

The post of DCM is not spelled out in the state constitution. But it has been a convention in Sabah to allot each of the three posts to a Christian Kadazandusun-Murut, Muslim and Chinese respectively.

Yee, 56, is a trained medical doctor and lawyer. Musa may have to turn to him as a reliable Chinese deputy as Yee’s party, the 26-year old PBS, is considered the most stable and reliable partner of Umno in Sabah right now.

Unike other Chinese leaders from LDP and Sabah Peoples’ Party, when it was still with BN, Yee is known to be a staid figure within the Sabah BN, ever since he was appointed a minister in 2004.

Analysts believe that one option to ensuring Yee’s seat as DCM would be for Pairin to step aside.

Under this scenario, Pairin, who is also an MP, would move to the federal level and his deputy in PBS, Dr Maximus Ongkili, a federal minister now, would come in as a state minister.

They reckoned that this option would be beneficial to PBS as it would ensure that Maximus spent more time in Sabah before he eventually takes over PBS leadership from the 71-year-old Pairin.

Face saving

At the same time it will “save face” for Pairin and avoid BN bickering over one party having two top posts.

Pairin, who has never served at the federal level, said recently that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

A leader with Pairin’s stature would come in handy for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, for the general election.

In the unlikely event of Pairin deciding to retire, then of course it would be much easier to promote a Kadazandusun minister from Upko to be a DCM and let Yee be the Chinese DCM.

“Maximus, on the other hand, is also a state assemblyman so it would be quite ideal to give him a state role.

“This will make it easier for Yee to be appointed DCM, as in the process it avoids having two PBS leaders as DCM,” an analyst opined.

The other current DCM is Yahya Hussin of Umno.

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