KUCHING: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said a minor cabinet reshuffle would be announced before the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting which is expected to start on Nov 9.“A cabinet reshuffle will be announced, maybe just before DUN, but effective after the sitting,” he said after handing over the champion trophy to Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) for the 14th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup ITF World Junior Tennis Championship 2009 at his office at Wisma Bapa Malaysia in Petra Jaya near here yesterday.
“I will, however, not change (Sarawak cabinet) in a major way because until 2012 we should not embark on some major build-up of government organisations, otherwise it will affect our healthy financial decision,°± added Taib, who is the Sarawak Barisan Nasional chairman.
It is anybody’s guess what the actual reshuffle will be like although there are at least two assistant minister posts that have been vacant since the 2006 state election – the Assistant Minister of Culture and Urbanisation, and Assistant Minister of Urban Development. They were respectively held by Senator Datuk Sim Kheng Hui and Datuk Alfred Yap.
Sim and Yap were among the incumbents of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) who lost their seats to the opposition in the 2006 polls.
Another two assistant ministerial posts were made vacant following the death last Feb 24 of Parti Rakyat Sarawak vice president Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot. He was the Assistant Minister of Agriculture and Assistant Minister of Sports.
The posts in the state cabinet as well as those of assistant ministers are divided among the state BN parties.
As of now, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) has five full ministers and eight assistant ministers, SUPP has two full ministers and four assistant ministers, and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak each has one full minister and two assistant ministers.
After the 2006 major reshuffle, some minor changes were initiated within the cabinet, such as the swapping of posts between the Minister of Urban Development and Tourism and the Minister of Environment and Public Health. On the possibility of setting up an education ministry, Taib said education was a federal affair while the state already had an assistant minister (Datin Fatimah Abdullah) to ensure an adequate education system for Sarawak.
“We have education support policy, which means we have someone watching that in Sarawak. Fatimah is quite diligent in her job. The major ones I will deal myself, and the rest she is handling.
“She is doing quite well and the development of education system in the state is quite good now,” he said.
He added that the state could also have quality assurance from the federal government for its tertiary education.
Whether the future cabinet reshuffle would look into establishing other new ministries, Taib said: “Not now, maybe after election.” in a state election and since then it has been struggling to regain its footing, a task made more difficult with the controversy over the formation of a new branch, Dudong.
The Dudong branch controversy has persisted since 2008. Recently, the party finally decided to hold a Special Delegates Conference (SDC) scheduled for Oct 25 to resolve the issue. The SDC is called based on the requisition of 22 party branches.
In the final tally of the 2006 state election, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) retained all their seats contested, 35 and eight respectively. SUPP came away with 11 and PRS, eight.
Meanwhile, Taib, who is PBB president, firmly believes that Sarawakians are mature enough to decide on who to vote for in the next election.
“When the election comes, people will have a better idea what the claim of the opposition is like, whether credible or not,” he said with a broad grin.On the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday, Taib said: “It is a dialogue session for Sarawak BN to get guidance from the DPM on how to fix certain issues. It is only a routine, nothing very important. If there is something, I will tell you (journalists).