Muhyiddin's pick for Sabah chief to be sworn in today

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's party colleague Hajiji Mohd Noor will be sworn in as Sabah's Chief Minister today, after Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) won a closely-fought election in the country's eastern-most state.

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 for almost 36 hours since results of the vote were announced late last 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 the personal pick of Mr Muhyiddin, who wanted the state's chief to come from PN. The Barisan Nasional coalition, the biggest among federal Malaysia's ruling parties, had wanted the post for one of its candidates, Sabah BN chief Bung Moktar Radin.

Despite insisting till late on Sunday that Bung, who faces corruption charges in court, should be given the post, BN chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday 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 yesterday evening. The ceremony will take place at 10.30am today.

GRS won 38 seats out of 73 in the state assembly, while rival Parti Warisan Sabah and its allies won 32. Independents won 3 seats, but the trio have since aligned with GRS, giving it 41 seats.

Earlier yesterday, rumours were rife that some GRS lawmakers could lend their support to Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal's Warisan, thus enabling him to return as chief minister. Mr Shafie later emerged from his house to thank his supporters and the media. Asked by reporters about the next move of his coalition, Mr Shafie said: "We will serve the people."

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, has been treated for food poisoning at the National Heart Institute and been advised to remain there for follow-up treatment. The national palace said in a statement that the ruler will return to Istana Negara soon after undergoing the various treatments.

Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor is from Malaysia's ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition.
Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor is from Malaysia's ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition.

The King was admitted to hospital last Monday, a day before his scheduled meeting with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to discuss the opposition chief's claim that he had majority support to form a new government.

Yesterday's palace statement did not say anything about Mr Anwar's claim that he has "formidable" support from the country's lawmakers and that Prime Minister Muhyiddin's government has "collapsed".

•Additional reporting by Nadirah H. Rodzi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Muhyiddin's pick for Sabah chief to be sworn in today'. Subscribe