Kuala Lumpur’s Pakatan sword hangs over Hajiji’s head

Did the Prime Minister give Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor his blessing to continue as Sabah’s chief minister, or did Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim give Hajiji a conditional blessing?

(MSN) – On Monday (Jan 10) night, Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi flew separately to Kota Kinabalu to resolve a plot to oust the Chief Minister.

For some Sabahans, the presence of Kuala Lumpur’s big guns was unwelcome as the matter was resolved when 43 assemblymen pledged their support for the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman.

For the record, Hajiji has 44 assemblymen – 30 from GRS (ex-Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia 16, Parti Bersatu Sabah seven, Sabah Star six and SAPP one), Pakatan Harapan seven, Umno rebels five, PAS one and Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah one.

The political crisis started when Umno pulled out from the state government on Friday and withdrew their support, causing Hajiji to lose his majority.

The plan was for Parti Warisan helmed by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, Sabah Umno led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, Parti Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat headed by Datuk Peter Anthony, and Pakatan to form the next government.

With Warisan’s 19 assemblymen, Umno’s 18, Parti KDM’s three and half of Pakatan’s seven lawmakers, they thought they had more than the minimum 40 (out of 79-seat Sabah assembly) for Shafie to be chief minister again.

But it failed.

Five Umno rebels and seven Pakatan assemblymen did not agree to oust the CM – they supported Hajiji.

After meeting Hajiji at the chief minister’s official residence in Kota Kinabalu for 40 minutes, the media asked Anwar if he gave his blessing to the Sulaman assemblyman to continue as chief minister.

“Yes, I’m giving him the blessing; he is the Chief Minister. We give space to the CM to discuss and find a good formula for the benefit of Sabah,” he said.

Anwar and Ahmad Zahid had proposed a good formula; to accept Bung and Umno back into his government.

Anwar wanted a three-day cooling-off period and for Hajiji to not swear in the Pakatan leaders to his cabinet.

However, this “good formula” came with an implicit threat; Pakatan would order its assemblymen to withdraw their backing for the chief minister if he did not accept it.

If they did so, Hajiji would lose his majority.

The chief minister consulted the 43 assemblymen. They said they supported him and did not want Bung back in government.

They also planned to swear in new ministers to replace the three Umno assemblymen, including Bung, who either quit or were sacked from the state cabinet.

It is rare for Sabah politicians to defy a political order from the powers in Kuala Lumpur.

However, their defiance might come with a price. There might be an order for the Pakatan assemblymen to quit the government.

That threat hangs over the Sabah chief minister’s head.