Former minister Zainuddin Maidin takes a swipe at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in defending Shafie Apdal’s purported ambition to be chief minister of Sabah.
“What is wrong with Shafie wanting to be chief minister when a person who is no longer popular continues to be prime minister?” he asked.
According to him, Shafie, who is the MP for Semporna, is qualified and capable for the task of administering the state.
Zainuddin, who is better known as Zam, said Shafie, who quit as Umno vice-president and was dropped from his position as rural and regional development minister, is a popular elected representative, with close ties to the grassroots nationwide.
He believes that Shafie, who now helms Sabah-based opposition party, Parti Warisan Sabah, can perform better than the incumbent chief minister Musa Aman.
“Musa is only known in Sabah. Outside of (Sabah), he does not have much (support).
“Musa is not a failure, he is just not as popular as Shafie. Wherever, he (Shafie) goes, he gets a fantastic reception,” he told Malaysiakini.
Shafie, he said, feels comfortable interacting with people from all levels.
“He does not come from a rich family, and finds it easy to mingle,” added the former Utusan Malaysia editor-in-chief.
Zainuddin was responding to Najib, who revealed that a former federal minister who now heads an opposition party had requested to be appointed as the chief minister of Sabah.
The prime minister said the request was to fulfil a personal ambition of that former minister.
“I feel personal ambitions should not override the struggle for the people,” he said during an event in Sandakan, Sabah, without naming the person.
However, Zainuddin said this was not a secret, and he had heard of such talk in the past where Shafie apparently compromised in order to avoid a power struggle in Sabah.
“He (Shafie) wants to take Sabah to a new level. He sees Sabah as not being given adequate treatment by Putrajaya. He wants to uplift the pride of Sabah, at least to be on par with Sarawak.
“This is not to demand secession, but to be treated with respect,” added the former minister.
Responding to a question, Zainuddin said he does not have the details to comment on whether Shafie’s party is capable of creating an upset in the next polls.
However, he pointed out that when Shafie meets the people, the reception is extraordinary.