Thursday, August 22

Abang Johari: Respect Soon Koh’s decision to quit state cabinet

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KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today indicated that he had no objections to Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh’s decision to resign from all his State Cabinet posts.

He told reporters here that Wong had already made an appointment to see him in the next few days and he would consider if there was a need for a Cabinet reshuffle after the meeting.

Asked if he would allow Wong to stay on as minister, Abang Johari said: “You must respect his decision. That is his choice. I am sure being an experienced politician. He has his own reasons.”

Wong, who is Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president, had announced his decision to quit as Second Finance Minister and International Trade and E-Commerce Minister at a press conference here on Monday.

He said his resignation would take effect after he has personally tendered his resignation to Abang Johari.

Earlier, he had told PSB’s annual delegates conference on Saturday that he no longer has the locus standi to remain in the Cabinet because PSB leaders were excluded from the latest councillors’ list, the state statutory bodies and as community leaders.

He also said elected reresentatives from PSB had been deprived of Minor Rural Project and Rural Transformation Programme funds in the millions of ringgit since March or April this year.

Abang Johari also told reporters today that although the events affecting PSB recently were not “politically correct”, Wong had contributed significantly to the state as a member of the cabinet as well as the former Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly.

“Therefore we must acknowledge his contributions to the stability of the government and what he has done,” he said.

He did not deny the possibility that Wong could continue to contribute to the state through a non-ministerial position.

Wong, 77, who has been the Bawang Assan assemblyman since 1991, was the State Legislative Assembly speaker from 1994 to 1996 and was appointed a full minister in 2008.

He started his political career in the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).

Following a leadership crisis in SUPP, Wong and several party leaders left to form the United People’s Party in 2014 as a Barisan Nasional-friendly party. The party was rebranded as PSB last year.

PSB had harboured hopes of joining the state’s new ruling coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), after the general election last year but faced constant opposition from within GPS.

The challenges facing PSB came to a head last Thursday when its deputy president, Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, suddenly quit the party.

The Assistant Minister of Transport said he was convinced that progress could only come to his rural constituency of Mambong through GPS.