KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is expected to get a bigger role in the central government when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak unveils the line-up of his Federal Cabinet today.
Before the dissolution of parliament on April 20, Sabah had four full ministers and five deputy ministers in the Cabinet. However, Upko president, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, and LDP president, Datuk VK Liew lost in Penampang and Sandakan respectively in the just concluded 13th general elections.
Reliable sources from BN reckoned that Najib will maintain the quota of full minister posts allocated for Sabah.
It is likely that the BN chairman will increase the quota of deputy minister posts for Sabah, in return for the state BN’s vital contribution of 22 of the 25 parliamentary seats.
Umno vice president Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal and PBS deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili is expected to be retained by Najib as will Umno Kimanis division head Datuk Anifah Aman.
Mohd Shafie will likely be re-appointed as the Minister of Rural and Regional Development in view of his excellent performance, particularly in bringing about development transformation in rural areas.
As for Anifah and Maximus, the sources said, they might be shifted to other portfolios. In the previous term, Anifah was the Foreign Minister and Maximus was the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
One of the three elected MPs from UPKO will likely be made a full minister as a replacement for Dompok.
They are Upko deputy president Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin (Ranau), secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau (Tuaran) and treasurer Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh (Putatan).
Meanwhile, speculation is also rife that PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who retained the Keningau seat at the request of the BN leadership, may be given a senior post in the Federal administration.
Apart from VK Liew, the other former deputy ministers were PBRS president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri, Puteri Umno chief, Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin and Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin. However, Lajim quit Umno before GE13.
The sources said Kurup, who successfully defended the Pensiangan seat will be re-appointed. Nevertheless, some leaders from his party have recently called on the BN leadership to promote him to a full minister which, according to the sources, is unlikely given the fact that Kurup is the sole elected MP from PBRS.
From Sabah Umno, the potential candidates for a deputy minister posts are Kalabakan MP Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun, who wrested Beaufort from Lajim, Sabah BN secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan (Kota Belud), Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan), Datuk Juslie Ajirol (Libaran) and Sabah Umno information chief Datuk Sapawi Ahmad.
From PBS, retired super principal Mary Yap who wrested the Tawau seat from incumbent Datuk Chua Soon Bui from SAPP stands a good chance of getting appointed to fill a vacant slot slated for the Chinese community in Sabah following VK Liew’s failure to defend the Sandakan seat. Also tipped to get appointment to the Cabinet is Batu Sapi MP Datin Linda Tsen, who is also from PBS.
One of the MPs from Upko will also be made a deputy minister, according to the sources, adding that the names of Wilfred and Marcus have been submitted to the Prime Minister for consideration of a full minister and deputy minister posts.