Statutory declarations being signed at caretaker Sabah chief minister Shafie's residence as speculation grows he's eyeing minority govt

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Sabah Cultural Board chairman Ismail Bungsu, who is also a Parti Warisan Sabah leader, has revealed that statutory declarations (SD) are being signed by assemblymen gathered at caretaker chief minister Mohd Shafie Apdal’s residence.

Following the defeat of the Shafie-led Warisan Plus campaign in the Sabah state election on Saturday (Sept 26), Datuk Seri Shafie has kept out of the media spotlight.

Party sources have told The Star that Mr Shafie is still eying to form a minority state government as his Parti Warisan Sabah, having clinched 29 state seats, is the single largest party with the most number of seats.

Under the state Constitution, the “first choice” for chief ministership will be given to the party with the most number of seats.

Together with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (two seats) and Upko (one seat), the Warisan Plus coalition has a total of 32 seats against the 38 held by the informal coalition of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, as the coalition is not a registered political entity with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).

Legal observers have said that Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional coalition was “second” with 17 seats (Bersatu 11 and Sabah Star six), followed by Sabah Barisan Nasional (14) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) seven.

Met by reporters who asked whether there are SDs being signed by assemblymen, Datuk Ismail merely answered “yes”.

Asked how many assemblymen signed the SD – believed to be in support of Mr Shafie’s candidacy as chief minister – Mr Ismail said he was unsure as it was a confidential matter.

He also nodded when quizzed on whether there were negotiations ongoing.

Asked if the SDs involved GRS assemblymen, Mr Ismail said, “That is their own matter”.

Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, who won the eight-cornered fight for the Segama seat in Sabah, when approached by reporters on whether his presence at Mr Shafie’s house was to sign the SD, refused to divulge further information.

“I cannot say anything at the moment, ” he said briefly before entering Mr Shafie’s house.

It is believed that the signed SDs will be handed over to Istana Negeri sometime around 4pm later on Monday (Sept 28).

Assemblymen were seen coming in and out of the residence, as it is believed that a high-level meeting is taking place at Yayasan Sabah.

The mood is sombre as curious journalists and party supporters were seen gathering at the garden outside Mr Shafie’s residence.

Cars were also tightly parked along Jalan Tenejai outside of Mr Shafie’s residence.

Under Article 6(3) of the state Constitution, the King shall appoint as chief minister a member of the legislative assembly whom in his judgment is likely to command the majority of members in the assembly.

Around 11.30am, PBS secretary-general Jahid Jahim arrived at Istana Negeri to hand over what he said were 41 SDs in support of the candidate for chief minister.

Two independent assemblymen are believed to have pledged allegiance to GRS, which bumped up its 38 assemblymen to 41.

Earlier on Monday, GRS nominated Sabah Bersatu chief Hajiji Mohd Noor as its candidate for chief minister and the swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday (Sept 29).

However, it is learned that GRS leaders were still insisting for the swearing-in ceremony to be done on Monday.

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