Mahathir is being most unfair to the Kadazandusun and Chinese communities in Sabah in introducing a “3:1:1” Sabah Chief Minister rotation system in favour of UMNO and not a “2:1:1” system

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday: For more than a week, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has not been able to explain why he had breached the pledge given by the Barisan Nasional in two state general elections for a two-year rotation of the Sabah Chief Minister’s post among the three main communities and shortchanged the  Kadazandusun community in  refusing to allow the post of Chief Minister to be held by a Kadazandusun for full two years before introducing a so-called new “2:1:1” rotation formula.

In actual fact, Mahathir has introduced a “3:1:1” rotation formula in favour of UMNO and not a “2:1:1” system.

This is because Datuk Osu Sukam’s term as Chief Minister cannot be considered as part of the first rotation cycle of “1:1:1” for the post of Sabah Chief Minister which was first implemented in 1994.  UMNO had its first two-year stint as Sabah Chief Minister when the post was held by Tun Sankaran Dandai and later Datuk Salleh Tun Said, which was followed by Datuk Yong Teck Lee of Sabah Progressive Party representing the Chinese in Sabah.

The Kadazanduzun community, however,  had a chief minister for only 10 months in the person of the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun-Murut Organisation (UPKO) president, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, when Sabah state general elections were held in early 1999.

Although Bernard failed to defend his Moyog seat in the 1999 state general election, there was no reason why another Kadazandusun Chief Minister could not be appointed to take up the remaining 14 months of the two-year slot for a Kadazandusun Chief Minister - as an election pledge must remain an election pledge to be honoured.

Instead, UMNO denied the Kadazandusun community the opportunity and right to have a two full-year term as Sabah Chief Minister in the first cycle of the rotation of the post and appointed Osu Sukam as Sabah Chief Minister  to start a second rotation cycle - with the implicit understanding that after the completion of Osu  Sukam’s term, the uncompleted 14-month term for a Kadazandusun Chief Minister in the first cycle of the rotation system would be honoured.

When Mahathir announced a new formula dubbed “2:1:1”, with Chong Kah Kiat succceeding Osu Sukam, then to be followed by UMNO, then a Kadazandusun and then reverting to an UMNO leader as Sabah Chief Minister,  this is in fact a “3:1:1” formula which is not only most unfair to the Kadazadusun and Chinese community but also makes a complete mockery of Barisan Nasional’s commitment to fair and equitable “power sharing” in Sabah.

I am surprised that there had been no strong objection in the Sabah Barisan Nasional to the double injustices of reneging on the completion of the first  “1:1:1” rotation formula by shortchanging the Kadazandusun community of 14 months as Sabah Chief Minister and the “3:1:1” new formula which is so unfair to the Kadazandusun and Chinese communities in Sabah.

Instead of speaking up and demanding the redressing of these two double injustices,  the Kadazandusun and Chinese leaders in Sabah Barisan Nasional are presently obsessed as to how the new spoils of office of a new Sabah State government is going to be distributed - who is to become Deputy Chief Minister, Minister and Assistant Minister.

In fact, the pressure for distributing  another round of the spoils of office in Sabah politics has become so intense that constitutional proprieties, conventions and niceties are being trampled upon so that the new Sabah Chief Minister and his Cabinet members could be sworn-in  on the same day at the Istana Negri  on Tuesday.

Invitations have  not only been sent out for the oath-taking ceremony by Chong Kiah Kiat as the  new Chief Minister before the Sabah Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Sakaran Dandai at the  Istana Negeri on Tuesday, invitations for the swearing-in of Chong’s Cabinet later the same day had also been sent out.

This is most improper and indecent haste as well as humiliating to the office of Sabah Yang di Pertua Negeri, as the new Chief Minister can only request for an oath-taking ceremony for the State Cabinet after he had been sworn in as Chief Minister and properly assumed the office as head of the government and submitted a list of his new Cabinet to the Yang di Pertua Negeri - and not to short-circuit constitutional rules, conventions and proprieties by  treating  the Yang di Pertua Negeri as a mere puppet.

As Mahathir is currently on a two-day visit to Sabah, he should reconsider the double injustices he has done to the Sabah people and Sabah politics and take immediate steps to undo them by:

I am no supporter or defender for the Barisan Nasional’s rotation system for the post of Sabah Chief Minister, but where there are manifest injustices, they should be the concern of all justice-loving Malaysians.

*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman