KUCHING, June 28 — Selangau member of Parliament Baru Bian today urged Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders to back Sabah’s Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal as the prime minister candidate for Pakatan Harapan (PH), as suggested by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said this would be an opportunity to show the rest of the world that Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia are equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.
“Sabah and Sarawak leaders, if given a chance to be a prime minister, will bring a refreshing change to the government of this nation.
“The leaders of GPS will surely agree that we have every right to contribute in this manner to the way forward in a significant fulfillment of the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” Baru said.
He was commenting on Dr Mahathir’s proposal for Shafie to be the prime minister with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir’s son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir as the two deputy prime ministers in the event PH wrests back the federal government.
He said having a prime minister from Sabah will be cause for much joy in the two Borneo states.
“It will finally be a sign of real inclusivity that our people have perhaps never felt and may go a long way in soothing the rising resentment of Sabahans and Sarawakians at the perceived unequal treatment of Sabah and Sarawak and the lack of attention to our needs by the federal government,” he said.
Baru stressed the long-standing disputes arising from the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will also be more likely to be resolved with Shafie heading the government.
“It would be in the interests of all parties to have these issues of state rights settled swiftly,” he said, adding that he is sure that Malaysians who truly believe in national unity will accept with open hearts a Sabahan as prime minister in the same way they have accepted Malaysians from other states of Peninsula Malaysia as prime minister over the last 63 years.
Baru, who is a former federal minister when Dr Mahathir was the prime minister before the collapse of the PH government in February this year, said Shafie is a seasoned politician and leader of a strong party in Sabah.
He said the Sabah leader is eminently qualified for the post, adding that PH leaders should give their support for the proposal as a way to end the impasse over the prime minister-candidate.
“The only requirement in the Federal Constitution is that the person eligible to be appointed as the prime minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong should be someone who is likely to command the confidence of the majority under Article 43(2)(a).
“There is, therefore, no impediment to the appointment of Shafie,” he said.