KUCHING: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian is confident that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will be selecting only the most qualified person for the Second Finance Minister’s portfolio.
The Local Government and Housing Minister said the appointment of members into the State Cabinet was still the prerogative of the chief minister.
He however did not reveal the person he thought would be the most qualified for the post.
The Batu Kawah assemblyman said he was also confident that Abang Johari will invoke the spirit and concept of ‘Sarawak First’ when making his selection since the chief minister was also chairman of the four-component Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which stands by the concept.
“The cabinet is the chief minister’s prerogative. I am very sure that he will select the most qualified person for the portfolio of Second Finance Minister and when he does so, it will be because of ‘Sarawak First’,” he told The Borneo Post when reacting to former SUPP president Tan Sri Datuk Patinggi Dr George Chan’s wish that the Second Finance Minister be allocated to SUPP as according to the “tradition” of the Sarawak ruling government.
For the record, when Dr Chan was the then Deputy Chief Minister, he also held the Finance Minister post from 1991 until 2004 following a major cabinet shake up where the then Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud took over the Finance Minister post and appointed Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh as Second Finance Minister.
Wong has held that post until he announced his intention to resign recently.
When contacted today, SUPP Youth chief Michael Tiang said youth members are of the opinion that as long as the Chief Minister gives SUPP another portfolio of full minister, that should be fine.
Tiang said: “As far as I know, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh’s resignation from his ministerial post from the Cabinet will make it inevitable for the chief minister to reshuffle it (cabinet) and to fill the vacant posts as well as to take the opportunity to restructure it.”
Traditionally, SUPP holds 20 state constituencies. However, they have only held seven after the last state election.
“We won seven. We lost 13 seats but not because we lost all 13 to the opposition as out of this 13, five are occupied by UPP (now PSB). But SUPP members are still active in these ‘lost’ areas,” said Tiang, who is also a political secretary to the chief minister.
SUPP won seven state seats through Dr Sim (Batu Kawah), Datuk Sebastian Ting (Piasau), Datuk Francis Harden Hollis (Simanggang), Datuk Lee Kim Shin (Senadin), Lo Khere Chiang (Batu Kitang), Ding Kuong Hiing (Meradong) and Datuk Seri Huang Tiong Sii (Repok).
Only Dr Sim holds a full minister portfolio while two other leaders, assistant minister posts and these two are Harden (Assistant Minister of Community Wellbeing) and Lee (Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture).