Formation of shadow cabinet unconstitutional — DUN Speaker

DRAWING A DISTINCTION: Mohammad Asfia being interviewed by the media as he was about to leave the new DUN yesterday. — Photo by Jeffery Mostapa

KUCHING: Opposition parties in Sarawak have every right to form a shadow cabinet but at the end of the day it will not be recognised by any state law.

State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Dato Sri Mohamad Asfia Awang Nasar said in Sarawak neither the State Constitution, Standing Orders of the DUN nor the DUN Privileges and Powers Ordinance 2007 give the opposition parties any recognition to be an alternative government.

“Unlike in England where the opposition party is being recognised as an alternative government and has the political standing of being a government during certain part of the political history of Britain, the position in Sarawak is entirely different.

“Here, the relevant laws that we have only recognise the constitutional status of the state government comprising the ministers and assistant ministers.

“I want to draw a distinction between the position in the UK and Sarawak. In Sarawak there is no recognition accorded by the State Constitution, Standing Orders of the DUN and the DUN Privileges and Powers Ordinance 2007 to the opposition parties to be an alternative government. This is the difference between the UK and Sarawak,” he said.

He told reporters this, when asked to comment on the shadow cabinet to be set up by the opposition parties after the Democratic Action Party (DAP) secured 12 seats, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) won three and one seat went to an independent in the recent election.

He was met after the swearing-in ceremony for 12 assistant ministers who were reinstated to the portfolios they held prior to the April 16 polls.

Two other former assistant ministers — Datuk Dr Abang Rauf (Industrial Development) and Larry Sng (Youth Affairs and Training of Youths) — were also not in the list, after they were not re-nominated to contest in the election.

On 18th of last month, eight cabinet ministers took their oaths of office, two days after Barisan Nasional (BN) was given a fresh mandate by the people in the election.

They include Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who retained his Deputy Chief Minister; Minister of Agriculture, and Rural Development portfolios.

Seven other cabinet ministers were Dato Sri Dr James Masing (Land Development), Dato Sri William Mawan (Social Development and Urbanisation), Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg (Housing and Urban Development), Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh (Environment and Public Health), Dato Sri Michael Manyin (Infrastructure Development and Communication), Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan (Public Utilities) and Datin Fatimah Abdullah (Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office).

However, former deputy chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who also previously held two other portfolios, was not retained after he lost in the election.

His Industrial Development Minister’s portfolio was given to Taib, while the Tourism and Heritage given to Abang Johari.

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