Sarawak's new chief minister is expected to be sworn in tomorrow, as there is no provision in the state laws for an acting chief minister, reported The Borneo Post today.
Citing a reliable source familiar with the matter, the daily said the matter was urgent because according to the laws, the present cabinet is deemed dissolved with the death of its chief minister, Adenan Satem.
"The state is now technically governed by a caretaker government," wrote the Borneo English daily.
“Basically, there is no government governing the state when the chief minister has died until the new chief minister is appointed.
"While waiting for the new chief minister to be appointed, the present government is only a caretaker government.
“However, in a situation like this, by convention, the head of state could appoint somebody to administer the state as caretaker government so that there is somebody in charge while waiting for the governing party to find a successor,” the source was quoted as telling The Borneo Post yesterday.
The source cited the case of neighbouring Sabah, where a precedent was set when Pairin Kitingan resigned as chief minister in 1994 and then deputy chief minister Amir Kahar Mustapha attempted to have the court rule that he was still a state cabinet member, and failed.
"[…] The court in Sabah ruled that when Pairin resigns from his position, the rest of the cabinet must also be deemed to have been dissolved.
“This is so because the cabinet ministers were appointed on the advice of the chief minister who has resigned,” said the source.
PBB three likely candidates
The task of appointing Adenan's replacement falls on Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud, said the source further.
“Appointment of the chief minister is the absolute discretion of the head of state.
"The exercise of his discretion cannot be challenged in the court. That means, (Taib) is the one making the decision,” said the source.
Taib was the long-running Sarawak chief minister before he handed the post to Adenan in 2014.
Yesterday, Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) said it was in no hurry to choose its new president following the death of Adenan, aged 72, on Wednesday.
However, by convention the new CM will traditionally come from within party ranks as it is the dominant party in Sarawak BN.
This narrows Adenan’s potential successor to three: Amar Abang Johari Openg, Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Abang Johari is PBB deputy president, and Uggah and Awang Tengah are the senior vice presidents.- Mkini