KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s Constitution should be used as the guide to appoint the Chief Minister and the practice of using statutory declarations for support should be discouraged, said Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) secretary-general Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun (pic).

The state constitution, he said, was drafted to promote stability.

“It is fundamental to Sabah’s constitutional order that the Tuan Yang Terutama is not dragged into ploys, disputes or power struggles.

“I hope that certain political leaders observe this and show respect to the TYT and his office,” he said, referring to the state governor.

Thus, the practice of submitting signed SDs as “evidence” of support should be discouraged, he said in a statement issued after the GRS government helmed by Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor collapsed when Sabah Barisan Nasional, led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, withdrew its support on Friday.

Masidi disputed Bung’s claims that Hajiji’s position as Chief Minister became untenable when he led Bersatu assemblymen out of the party and became GRS’ direct member on Dec 8.

The GRS Constitution provided for direct membership and not just for party membership, Masidi said.

He said that Hajiji, as GRS chairman, is the leader of the single largest party.

So there was no basis to say that Hajiji had no locus standi to remain as Chief Minister even after they left Bersatu to be direct members of GRS, he said.

“GRS has more than enough assemblymen and is the largest political party in the Sabah assembly,” he said.

Bung had cited Article 6(7) of the state Constitution in his argument that Hajiji was no longer the legitimate Chief Minister.

Article 6(7) of the Constitution reads: “For the purpose of Clause (3) of this Article, where a political party has won a majority of the elected seats of the legislative assembly in a general election, the leader of such political party, who is a member of the legislative assembly, shall be the member of the legislative assembly who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the assembly.”

GRS leaders were of the view that Bung’s announcement to pull back support for the state administration was proof that there was a Barisan-Warisan plan to topple the state government.

In a joint statement by GRS component leaders yesterday, they contended that Bung had hatched a plan with Parti Warisan, led by former chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, to destabilise the political situation.

They said that the withdrawal of support for the state government would not affect Hajiji’s position as the legitimacy of the Chief Minister is decided by the majority support of members of the state assembly.

“Hajiji remains as Chief Minister and any press statement by political parties does not influence (his position) from a legal standpoint,” they added.

The statement was jointly issued by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) chief Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, and the United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) president Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.