Will it be a minor Cabinet reshuffle or a major overhaul?

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Aug 21: News of imminent State Cabinet reshuffle finally surfaced today after the Chief Minister’s Office issued a notice of a press conference tomorrow at 2pm.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is expected the make the announcement after chairing the monthly Cabinet meeting. 

According to some reliable sources, the reshuffle could be just to fill up vacant posts left by former Second Finance Minister and Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh who had resigned on July 15.

“But under the present circumstances, nobody knows what the Chief Minister has in mind. It could be just a minor Cabinet reshuffle or it could be a full blown overhaul exercise so as to streamline the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government machinery to face the coming state election which is due in 2021,” a source told DayakDaily today.

Last Monday, Abang Johari had told reporters that a Cabinet reshuffle will be announced soon but he was not specific about the date.

But political pundits believed that the vacant slot left by Wong would be filled by a party leader from Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) as Wong was formerly from SUPP but left to form United People’s Party (UPP) which was renamed as Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB).

“So, in all probability, SUPP will have two full ministers and two assistant ministers,” said the source.

Currently, only SUPP president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian is a full minister, while two of its assistant ministers are Datuk Lee Kim Shin and Datuk Francis Harden Holis.

Speculations have been rife that Dr Sim may take over the post left vacant by Wong, while his current portfolio will either be taken over by Lee, who has been an assistant minister since 2004.

“However, if we follow party hierarchy, then SUPP secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting will be appointed to the post,” added the source. 

It was also speculated that the Chief Minister may announce the appointment of Sibu Municipal Council (SMC)’s new chairman to replace Datuk Tiong Thai King.

Meanwhile, a source revealed that Chief Minister is also expected to announce the new State Secretary to replace outgoing Tan Sri Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani.

However, it will be no surprise as who the new person helming the state civil service as Datu Jaul Samion has been acting State Secretary for the past two months.— DayakDaily