KUCHING, Oct 24 — Creating a deputy prime minister (DPM) post for Sarawak must involve ensuring the position is one with power and not just to serve as a mere figurehead in the Cabinet, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said while Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) welcomed the suggestion by Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to create three DPM posts — one each for Sarawak, Sabah, and the Peninsula if BN wins the 15th General Election (GE15) — but the posts must not just be ceremonial.

“What we need is a post with certain powers, otherwise it becomes a ceremonial post with all the protocols of a DPM.

“This is not what we want. We want a DPM post with power,” he told reporters after attending a Deepavali luncheon hosted by lawyer Shankar RP Asnani here today.

Among those present were deputy premiers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Satok assemblyman Datuk Ibrahim Baki, Kuching South mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng, and Federation of Chinese Associations of Sarawak president Datuk Richard Wee.

When asked if he had a candidate in mind to serve as DPM from the state, Abang Johari replied, “A candidate ‘bila-bila’ (anytime) can be DPM.

“But what is important is if you are DPM without the power, then there’s no meaning to it for you only have protocols.

“Sarawakians don’t like protocols. They prefer power,” he quipped.

On whether GPS would be including the proposal for a DPM from Sarawak in its manifesto, the GPS chairman pointed out the suggestion was from BN and not GPS.

“GPS’ manifesto is more on ‘Sarawak First’,” he said.

Yesterday (Oct 23), Ahmad Zahid told a press conference in Kimanis, Sabah that three DPM posts would be created to represent Sarawak, Sabah, and the Peninsula if BN wins GE15.

He said GPS and BN Sabah could suggest to caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob for this proposal to be included in the BN and GPS manifestos for GE15.

He also said it was not impossible for the country to have three DPMs from Sarawak, Sabah, and the Peninsula respectively and that the prime minister would agree to this proposal. — Borneo Post