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By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Mar 12: The setting up of the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs portfolio showed sincerity in the new Perikatan Nasional-led federal government to look after the rights of the two Borneo states.
Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state was content with the setting up of the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Ministry, which was deemed in respect to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)
He described the new special portfolio under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s cabinet as something that had been discussed between Putrajaya and the state-ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president and Kota Marudu MP Datuk Seri Maximus Johnity Ongkili was appointed minister, while Mukah MP Datuk Hanifah Hajar Taib of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) the deputy minister.
Abang Johari said the state was satisfied with the new federal cabinet line-up, where Sarawak has four full ministers and six deputy ministers.
“We are content with the representation. Even the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs portfolio was set up in respect to MA63. The implementation was something that has been agreed upon,” Abang Johari told reporters after officiating at the state-level fatwa seminar at the Sarawak Islamic Complex here today.
GPS parliamentary whip chief and Petra Jaya MP, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, was appointed Works Minister. He was also made one of the four senior ministers in the new cabinet line-up after Muhyiddin opted not to appoint a deputy prime minister.
Other Sarawak ministers included Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, GPS secretary-general and Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, as well as Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (Batang Sadong).
Wan Junaidi will lead the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry, while Nanta is Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister. Nancy completes the full ministerial list following her appointment as Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.
All the Sarawak ministers are from PBB.
Sarawak was offered seven deputy minister posts but Bintulu MP and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, rejected the National Unity portfolio.
According to PDP secretary-general Datuk Nelson Balang Rining, it was the party’s decision for Tiong to turn down the appointment. PDP felt that Tiong, a five-term MP and president of a party, should not be given such a portfolio or be made deputy minister.
The six deputy ministers from Sarawak are Kanowit MP Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang, Datuk Henry Sum Agong (Lawas), Ali Biju (Saratok), Willie Mongin (Puncak Borneo), Hasbi Habibollah (Limbang) and Hanifah.
Aaron, from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), was appointed Deputy Health Minister, while Ali and Willie, both from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), were appointed deputy minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and deputy minister of Primary Industries and Commodities respectively.
Henry and Hasbi, both PBB, were appointed deputy minister of Rural Development and Transport respectively.—DayakDaily