Sarawak leaders unhappy state loses full minister’s post in new cabinet lineup, accept PM’s prerogative in federal ministerial appointment
KUCHING: The federal cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday is a disappointment for the state, as the minister’s post vacated by Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas was not filled by a Sarawakian.
Uggah, who stepped down as Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister to take up the post as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister, said many had expected the replacement for his federal post to come from the state.
“I am very disappointed that no MP from Sarawak was considered to take over my former position. We believe one of our MPs is qualified enough to be appointed. I am speaking on behalf of Pesaka wing in Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).”
Uggah, who is PBB senior vice president and still the Betong MP, contested in the last state election in Bukit Saban constituency where he won by 4,599 vote-majority in a straight fight.
He was appointed Deputy Chief Minister in the new state cabinet lineup announced on May 13 and he was also given the portfolio of Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Economy.
Lawas MP Datuk Henry Sum Agong who was appointed Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism is the only appointment from Sarawak.
Prior to yesterday’s federal cabinet announcement, speculations were rife that Kapit MP and Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi or Saratok MP Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom would be appointed to take up the post vacated by Uggah.
Sharing Uggah’s disappointment was fellow Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, who said Sarawak has lost one full minister’s post in the federal cabinet.
However, Masing, who is also president of State Barisan Nasional’s second biggest component Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), accepted that appointment of the federal cabinet members is the sole prerogative of the prime minister.
“As a fellow Sarawakian, I’m disappointed that Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah’s position has been allocated to a West Malaysian politician. We’ve lost one full minister, and in compensation we are given a deputy minister for Datuk Henry Sum as a replacement. I wish all the new appointees all the best in assisting the Prime Minister in facing the coming 14th general election,” he said.
Masing, in a news report few days ago, had said he wanted the ministerial position left by Uggah to be filled by another Sarawakian in the cabinet reshuffle.
Meanwhile, PBB supreme council member Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah also lamented that the vacant federal minister post did not go to another Member of Parliament from PBB.
“Federal cabinet post appointment is the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. There is no question of State BN or PBB losing a full minister post. Of course, it would be good to see any cabinet post vacated by a PBB MP is replaced by another PBB MP.
“But the final say is the prime minister’s,” he said.
Najib, when announcing the cabinet reshuffle yesterday, said the new appointments was necessary following the resignations of several ministers including Uggah.
He hinted there could be another reshuffle, as he informed of restructuring of duties for ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department which will be announced soon.