Ex-Sabah chief minister claims has gathered enough lawmakers to topple PH-backed state govt

Mr Musa Aman alleged that he has garnered the support without disclosing how many state lawmakers are now behind him.
Mr Musa Aman alleged that he has garnered the support without disclosing how many state lawmakers are now behind him.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman was on Wednesday (July 29) seen in photographs with widely smiling assemblymen from the East Malaysian state, including those he claimed have crossed over to support him.

The pictures appeared to suggest that he has now mustered enough support to topple the Pakatan Harapan-backed Sabah administration.

The 65-seat Sabah state assembly is currently controlled by Parti Warisan Sabah and led by its president, Chief Minister Shafie Apdal - the arch rival of Tan Sri Musa.

Without disclosing how many state lawmakers are now behind him, Mr Musa alleged that he has garnered the support of assemblymen from Warisan, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Umno.

"The next step is to meet the Sabah governor and hand him the statutory declarations from the assemblymen," Mr Musa told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the head of state, Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.

The governor must give his nod for a change of government in the commodities-rich state.

Alternatively, he could accede to a possible request from Datuk Seri Shafie as the reigning chief minister to dissolve the state legislature and call for fresh state election.

The main exports of Sabah, the second biggest Malaysian state by land area after Sarawak, are petroleum, palm oil, cacao and lumber, according to the state government's website.

It has a sparse population of 3.54 million people, out of 32 million for the whole of Malaysia.

According to a headcount done by The Star online news, there were 32 assemblymen, including Mr Musa, at the press conference he called in Luyang, Sabah.

Mr Musa, who is from Umno, needs a minimum of 33 lawmakers to topple the Warisan state government.

Until the news conference was called, Mr Shafie believed he had the backing of 45 assemblymen, or two-thirds of the assembly.

Sabah has 60 elected state assemblypersons.

An additional five are appointed by the state government with full voting rights.

Warisan's deputy president, Mr Darell Leiking, a staunch ally of Chief Minister Shafie, has labelled the party-hopping of at least a dozen assemblymen as appalling, as they had pledged allegiance to Mr Shafie.

"We are shocked with what has happened. We think a state election should be called and we return it to the people to decide," Datuk Leiking said, as quoted by The Star.

 
 
 
 

Mr Musa said he has received statutory declarations from the assemblymen confirming their stand to join the new alliance he is leading.

"I also wish to inform that (federal) Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin and the political secretary to the prime minister had paid a courtesy visit to the governor this morning to notify him that the new alliance that is in support of PN has attained a simple majority to form the government," he said.

Mr Musa was Sabah's chief minister for 15 years until Umno's shock defeat in the May 2018 election, to PH-backed Warisan.

His comeback gathered momentum after all 46 counts of graft levelled against him, when PH was in power, were withdrawn on June 9.

If Mr Musa is successful, this would make Sabah the fifth state lost by PH and its allies after its federal government collapsed at the end of February.

PH was left without majority support in the federal Parliament, after Tan Sri Muhyiddin led some 40 MPs out of the coalition.

PN currently controls nine of Malaysia's 13 state governments, having captured Johor, Melaka, Perak and Kedah in the last five months since coming to power.

PH and its allies are confined to ruling the state assemblies of Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan and, for now, Sabah.

Several pro-Shafie lawmakers have claimed they were enticed with up to RM32 million (S$10.4 million) each to switch camps.

A change in Sabah could significantly strengthen Mr Muhyiddin's grip in the federal Parliament as well, where his PN government holds only a slim majority with 113 of Parliament's 222 lawmakers.

Some of the 10 Sabah MPs currently in federal opposition could also be persuaded to cross the floor, if PN were to take over the state.