Anwar praises Hajiji for ‘political silat’ to stay in power, keep Sabah govt intact

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 28 — Even with the vision of a Sabah “unity government” to mirror the federal government no longer on the cards, prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has today praised chief minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor for out-manoeuvring his political nemeses.

Anwar, on his first official visit to Sabah as prime minister, said he was impressed with the soft-spoken Hajiji’s political astuteness that has stabilised the state’s political landscape with his two-thirds majority in the state government.

“Hajiji, even though he is known to be mild-mannered, has used some ‘silat’ moves and stayed in power and even has a majority now,” said Anwar during his address to the state’s civil service here.

Later, when asked about his desire to form a similar coalition government in Sabah, Anwar said that it was at the end of the day, the prerogative of the state government to decide.

“Our position is that we invite everyone. But based on the state’s peculiar experience, I leave it to Sabah to decide,” he said.

The Anwar administration is a coalition between Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, which is leading the state government.

On January 6, Hajiji’s position as chief minister was undermined when Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin pulled the plug on their relationship with the GRS government, which caused Hajiji to lose the majority he had to form the state Cabinet.

Bung Moktar also claimed that Hajiji is not legally fit to stay as the chief minister because he had become “party-less” after he and a number of politicians left Sabah Bersatu en masse to join the unity government last year.

The coup, however, did not come to pass when Hajiji managed to get support from 44 assemblymen including GRS (29), Pakatan Harapan (seven), Umno (five), Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, PAS and an independent with one each to form the new state Cabinet.

Hajiji then cobbled together a majority with the Pakatan Harapan assemblymen and several Umno dissidents to retain control of power, before Anwar and Umno president Datuk Zahid Hamidi flew to Sabah to try and resolve the situation.

Anwar, although endorsing Hajiji as chief minister, said that he hoped the state would come to a consensus that was similar to a unity government.

Hajiji now leads Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah, also known as Gagasan Rakyat, ending his “party-less” status.