Chief Minister hints at cabinet reshuffle soon

KUCHING - Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud hinted yesterday that there could be further news on the composition of the state cabinet after the state assembly sitting to be held from July 15 to 22.

"After the state assembly, then I will tell you," said Taib when asked if he would be reshuffling the state cabinet as the existing one was formed as a transitional cabinet.

This transitional cabinet was named on April 18, two days after the state election when all eight former ministers were sworn in.

The eight ministers included five from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and one each from its component parties of Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

SUPP lost 13 out of its 19 seats contested. Its president, Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, who was deputy chief minister 1, lost his Piasau seat in the last state election.

Rumours have been rife that SUPP's Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, the Bawang Assan assemblyman, might be appointed the next deputy chief minister.

However, there have also been calls from PRS that since the party was now the second largest, having won eight out of the nine seats it had contested in the April 16 election, its president Datuk Seri Dr James Masing should be appointed instead.

Apart from Wong and Masing, full ministers such as Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan might also have the chance to be appointed as Deputy Chief Minister II as PBB is the only party that retained all the 35 seats allocated and contested.

While PBB deputy president Tan Sri Alfred Jabu would be expected to remain as deputy chief minister II, SPDP president William Mawan, whose party lost two out of eight seats contested, is expected to remain only as a full minister.

-New Straits Times