KOTA KINABALU: The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-Barisan Nasional government has collapsed.
Barisan, with 17 assemblymen, has pulled out from the 27-month-old coalition state government.
This is set to trigger a race to obtain a simple majority of 40 seats in the 79-member state assembly, failing which, a snap election may be needed.
Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin announced the Sabah Barisan decision after chairing a two-hour meeting at the Sabah Umno headquarters here starting at 8pm on Friday (Jan 6) night.
GRS has 29 assemblymen, which includes 15 direct members who were formerly with Bersatu, Parti Bersatu Sabah (seven), Sabah STAR (six) and one from Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).
Prior to the announcement, the GRS-Barisan state government had a total of 46 seats.
It is understood that the state government also had the support of Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM), which has three seats, as well as PAS, Parti Bangsa Malaysia, with one assemblyman each and one Independent who were to the state government, meaning Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor previously had the support of 53 assemblymen.
In the Opposition bench, Parti Warisan has 19 assemblymen while Sabah Pakatan Harapan has seven, comprising four from DAP, two from PKR and one from Upko.
The announcement comes some 36 hours after Warisan called a press conference following speculation that there was a move to unseat the GRS government under Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
Barisan is expected to team up with Warisan and other smaller parties to make a bid to form the next state government.
GRS could also possibly team up with Sabah Pakatan’s seven state reps and other splinter parties and independents.
“We have lost confidence in Hajiji and he has lost his locus standi to remain as Chief Minister after he quit Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to become a direct member of GRS,” he told reporters.
Bung said the understanding was that Barisan would support Hajiji as Chief Minister who in return will appoint them as ministers and heads of state-owned government-linked companies.
He said the basis of cooperation under the loose umbrella of GRS was done between Sabah Barisan, Perikatan Nasional and Parti Bersatu Sabah in the 2020 state election when they defeated Warisan and Pakatan Harapan.
Hajiji was picked as the chief minister as he was Sabah Bersatu chairman under Perikatan, he said.
“When he decided to ditch Bersatu (on Dec 8), the whole cooperation ended,” he added.
Furthermore, he said Hajiji and GRS had breached the cooperation with Barisan by sacking Sabah Umno’s Usukan assemblyman Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak as chairman of state investment arm Qhazanah Sabah Berhad.
“Due to the breach towards the political understanding, Sabah Umno has decided that all its 18 assemblymen (including Parti Bangsa Malaysia’s Segama assemblyman Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi) will pull back their support and declare we have lost confidence in Hajiji as Chief Minister,” he said.
Referring to Article 6(3) and Article 6(7) of the Sabah constitution, Bung said that Hajiji was misleading the people and the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in saying that he was a direct GRS member.
“This is against the state constitution which requires the chief minister to be from a party with the highest majority in the state assembly.
“We are asking the Sabah Governor to look into his position as chief minister and its legality as per the state constitution,” he said.
Bung said Hajiji also did not discuss plans for a Cabinet reshuffle announced earlier Friday as required under the cooperation between GRS and Sabah Barisan.
The decision to pull out, he added, involved 17 assemblymen and Mohamaddin.
However, without naming anyone, he admitted that at least five assemblymen have yet to support the move.
“We are still talking to them as this is a decision involving the party and not the individual,” he said.
However, he said the party would not hesitate to take action against anyone who did not toe the party line.