KOTA KINABALU, July 30 ― Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal today announced the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly to pave the way for a state election, which has to be held within 60 days.

He made the announcement today at the Sabah State Administrative Centre here after obtaining a signed letter of consent from Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.

“As the sitting chief minister, I have the right to request for a dissolution. And under the state constitution, the TYT has absolute power to decide, whatever the numbers are,” he said after addressing the elected representatives at the state administrative building today.

Shafie also said he believed he still commanded the confidence of the majority of the state’s lawmakers and consequently remained the legitimate chief minister. 

“I have 45 SDs (statutory declarations) but some of them, those less principled, may have been bought off. 

“They think Sabah [lawmakers] are like souvenirs, easily bought. But I think Sabahans have more integrity than that,” he said. 

The CM said he met Juhar last night and expressed his intention to dissolve the assembly.

He said they returned to Juhar’s residence at 8am today with the letter of consent for the dissolution, which the governor signed.

Juhar was then scheduled to meet with Tan Sri Musa Aman at 10am, he added.

Shafie said he was reluctant to call for an early state election as he was mindful that the state’s residents, along with the rest of Malaysia, were still under immense pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he said he concluded that one was necessary to resolve the continued harassment of the state’s assemblymen to try and secure their defections, adding that the ballot was the only way to ensure the people’s mandate was honoured.

“I still have the numbers and the right. I know I can persuade the assemblymen to stay by offering posts but do we want leaders who need to be persuaded? What is the meaning (of their service) then?

“We think it’s time to return the mandate to the people. We will face them there, and let the people decide. You can jump here and there but now it’s meaningless because we have dissolved the state assembly,” he said. 

Shafie will remain as caretaker chief minister until such time as the state election date is set by the Election Commission.

Shafie’s announcement today will frustrate the apparent attempt of his predecessor, Musa, to take over the state government by way of defection.

Musa was coincidentally acquitted of his corruption and money laundering charges last month.

Yesterday, he announced that he had secured the support of enough lawmakers to represent a simple majority in the state assembly and could consequently take over the state administration.

Musa needed the backing of at least 33 representatives in the 65-seat assembly, which he nominally possessed yesterday.

The Sabah state election will be a bellwether for the federal PN coalition that is rumoured to be contemplating an early general election by the first half of next year.