KOTA KINABALU: The question on almost everybody’s lips these days is: Who is the next deputy chief minister to represent the Chinese community in Sabah?
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman will mak e his choice known this week as political observers remain divided over the possib le candidates to fill up the vacuum after Sabah Progressive Party left Barisan Nasional last year.
Musa could retain incumbent Datuk Raymond Tan, who quit SAPP following the party’s Se pt 17 pullout of Barisan. He has now joined low-profile Sabah Gerakan which is seeking to boost its “fortunes” in the state and Sarawak. Observers note that Musa could also elevate Liberal Democratic Party vice-president Datuk Peter Pang, who is state Youth and Sports Minister.
However, he is widely seen as a junior first-term assemblyman.
Also on the list is Parti Bersatu Sabah deputy president Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai, the state Resource Development and Information Technology Minister, as well as Sabah MCA chairman Datuk Edward Khoo, who is assistant minister to the Chief Minister.
Some political observers believe that Musa m ight be keen on retaining the status quo in his state Cabinet as he wants to focus on the economy. As such, he might be reluctant to make any changes mids tream.
They say Musa might simply retain Tan as state Infrastructure Minister and appoint either Dr Yee or Pang as deputy chief minister without disrupting the overall state Cabinet portfolios.
Musa’s decision, they say, would also depend on pressure from component parties.
Some of them feel that Tan had failed to stir a major rebellion within SAP P and might not be an effective leader for the state’ s Chinese community.
“Pang could be a choice even though he is not senior enough. Remember, his party (LDP) is among the oldest in Sabah Barisan,” said a senior Barisan leader, who declined to be identified.
LDP deputy president Datuk Chin Su Phin said the DCM post should be given to MCA as the party would be able to work with their federal counterparts to bring about much needed development to the state.
However, PBS treasurer Datuk Chong Ket Wah says that in terms of seniority and exper ience, Dr Yee wo uld be a better choice.
But other Barisan detractors say that it would not be fair for PBS to hold two DCM posts as party president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan is already the deputy chief minister for the non-Muslim bumiputra slot.
Others say that Tan’s move to join Sabah Gerakan together with Elopura assemblyman Au Kam Wah, the former SAPP Youth chief, was in itself a boost for him to retain his position as Sabah DCM