Cabinet reshuffle looms after Soon Koh’s resignation

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, August 2: With the resignation of Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh from the State Cabinet on July 15, a reshuffle is now inevitable to fill up the vacant posts left by him, namely as Second Minister of Finance and Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce.

According to sources, the Cabinet reshuffle is now imminent and will be done sooner than expected.

“We will see a cabinet reshuffle soon. It has to be done to fill the vacant posts,” the source told DayakDaily here today.

The question now is, who will fill the shoes left vacant by Wong, who has been one of the key cabinet members in the past 15 years.

Traditionally, the finance minister’s post has been allocated to a Chinese from Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP).

Before Wong was appointed to the post, the Finance portfolio was held by former SUPP president and deputy chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam from 1991-2004, when the then chief minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, assumed the finance minister post in a Cabinet reshuffle.

However, Dr Chan had said recently that the post should be allocated to a Chinese from SUPP, as it was somehow a tradition in the State Cabinet and it would be good for the community.

Under Taib, he created the post of Second Finance Minister and appointed Wong, who was then with SUPP.

Wong retained the post despite his sacking from SUPP in 2014 following a leadership crisis, and formed United People’s Party (UPP) which was later renamed as Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), early this year.

SUPP’s current assemblymen are its president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian who is the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Assistant Minister of Community Well-Being Datuk Francis Harden, Secretary-General Datuk Sebastian Ting, Batu Kitang Assemblyman and Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lo Khere Chiang, and Sarikei branch chairman Datuk Seri Huang Tiong Sii.

Among them, Dr Sim is a cardiologist; Lee, a Social Science graduate; Ting, a lawyer; while Lo is an engineer and Huang, a businessman.

If indeed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg would prefer to keep the so-called ‘tradition’ to appoint a Chinese for the post to replace Wong, then most probably it would be Lee, who has been an assistant minister since 2004.

But if Abang Johari prefers to appoint someone according to the hierarchy in SUPP, then Ting might get the nod as he is third in line in the party.

But as they say, politics is the art of the possibility, then all the current Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) assemblymen, will have equal chances to get the prestigious post.

Recently, when asked to comment on the matter, Dr Sim said he would leave it to the Chief Minister to decide, as it is his prerogative.— DayakDaily

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