KOTA KINABALU, Oct 8 — The inclusion of Sabah PAS secretary Aliakbar Gulasan into the state assembly despite not even contesting the state election has not gone down well with Gabungan Rakyat Sabah ally Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku (STAR).
Its president Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan lauded the new state Cabinet but said that “unfortunately” the appointments also include Aliakbar as one of the six nominated assemblymen which has opened the state government to criticism and ridicule from the opposition.
“STAR remains steadfast in its principle that any party whose ideals are not compatible with Sabah’s multicultural values and sensitivity should be rejected and rebuffed,” he said.
“PAS leaders have time and again issued statements that upset the feelings and sentiments of multicultural and multireligious Sabah.
“Sabahans do not need a political party to teach them about unity between religions. Sabah is the shining example of multireligious unity together with our neighbour Sarawak,” he added.
He, however, acknowledged that the objection was not an attack on Aliakbar personally, noting that the latter had personally made public his disapproval when PAS’s Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh who recently made a controversial comment about the Bible in the parliament.
“The comment deeply offended Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and Aliakbar, as a Sabahan, is in touch with the reality of Sabah,” he said.
Kitingan, however, conceded that the appointment of nominated assemblymen is the prerogative of the chief minister, and Aliakbar at least had no ministerial portfolio, which was an early rumour.
“I would urge all STAR members and the public at large to remain calm and not give in to the taunts and insults thrown at them by the oppositions. Playing politics all the time would not get us anywhere.
“We have lots of work to do and politics should be put on the backburner for now or else, we would end up like the previous state government; no action talk only,” he said.
Earlier, the Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin swore in a new assembly speaker, five new state ministers, 18 assistant ministers and gave four nominated assemblymen, including Aliakbar, their letter of appointment.
Aliakbar’s appointment is controversial because of PAS’ brand of conservative religious politics which does not sit well with the multicultural Sabah.
Both STAR and Parti Bersatu Sabah who are under the current government, have voiced their objection to the inclusion of PAS into the state assembly. Kitingan also recently denied rumours that PAS would be included in the new lineup, specifically as the law and native affairs minister.
PAS also did not contest in the recent state elections, instead opting to support its Perikatan Nasional and Barisan Nasional allies.