List of Chief Ministers of Sabah

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Chief Minister of Sabah
Ketua Menteri Sabah
Coat of arms of Sabah.svg
Shafie Apdal

since 12 May 2018
Government of Sabah
Style Yang Amat Berhormat (The Right Honourable)
Member of Cabinet of Sabah
Reports to Sabah State Legislative Assembly
Residence Seri Gaya, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Seat Tingkat 17 & 18, Wisma Innoprise, Jalan Sulaman, 88502 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Appointer Juhar Mahiruddin
as Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah
Term length While commanding the confidence of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly
With State Elections held no more than five years apart
Constituting instrument Constitution of the State of Sabah
Inaugural holder Fuad Stephens
Formation 16 September 1963; 54 years ago (1963-09-16)

The Chief Minister of Sabah is the head of government for the Malaysian state of Sabah. From 12 May 2018, the post is held by Shafie Apdal from the Pakatan Harapan-Warisan coalition. As in other parts of the Malaysian federation, the Westminster Parliamentary system is adopted, whereby, the leader of the party with the most seats in the state legislature would usually become the chief minister of Sabah. In other words, it is the person commanding the support of the state legislature. The chief minister is appointed by the head of state known as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri. In comparison to other states in Malaysia, the office of the Chief Minister of Sabah has been held by a more diverse group of people in terms of ethnicity and religion. The post has been held by Kadazan-Dusuns, Bajaus, Malays, Chinese, Suluks, and other persons of mixed heritage as well as being Muslims, Buddhists and Christians.

Rotation system: 1994–2004[edit]

The rotation system was used in the state of Sabah as a means to divide and share power among the three main communities of the state—the Christian Bumiputras, the Muslim Bumiputras, and the Chinese people—represented by various political parties within the Barisan National coalition supposedly representing the interests of those communities. The system was introduced by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad[1] when the ruling coalition party, Barisan Nasional, formed government despite losing in the 1994 state elections. This occurred due to defections which took place by elected representatives of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), the party which won the election. Among the defectors were Bernard Dompok, who later became the chief minister himself and Joseph Kurup.

The system provided that the chief ministerial post will be held by a leader from one of the three communities for two years, and then the post will be passed on to another leader representing another community. The first chief minister under this system was Sakaran Dandai from the party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in 1994. Sakaran did not complete his two-year tenure and was replaced by Salleh Said Keruak, also from UMNO. In 1996, Yong Teck Lee from Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) became next chief minister. Bernard Dompok then became the next chief minister representing the Christian Bumiputra community in 1998. His tenure lasted until 1999.


Source: Constitution of the State of Sabah
According to the state constitution, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah shall first appoint the Chief Minister to preside over the Cabinet and requires such Chief Minister to be a member of the Legislative Assembly who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly and must not a Malaysian citizen by naturalisation or by registration. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri on the Chief Minister's advice shall appoint not more than ten nor less than four Ministers from among the members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Chief Minister and his cabinet ministers must take and subscribe in the presence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri the oath of office and allegiance as well as the oath of secrecy before they can exercise the functions of office. The Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly. The members of the Cabinet shall not hold any office of profit and engage in any trade, business or profession that will cause conflict of interest.

If a government cannot get its appropriation (budget) legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly, or the Legislative Assembly passes a vote of "no confidence" in the government, the Chief Minister is bound by convention to resign immediately. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri's choice of replacement chief minister will be dictated by the circumstances. Ministers other than the Chief Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, unless the appointment of any Minister shall have been revoked by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri on the advice of the Chief Minister but may at any time resign his office.

Following a resignation in other circumstances, defeated in an election or the death of a chief minister, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri will generally appoint as Chief Minister the person voted by the governing party as their new leader.


The power of the chief minister is subject to a number of limitations. Chief ministers removed as leader of his or her party, or whose government loses a vote of no confidence in the Legislative Assembly, must advise a state election or resign the office or be dismissed by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri. The defeat of a supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) or unable to pass important policy-related legislation is seen to require the resignation of the government or dissolution of Legislative Assembly, much like a non-confidence vote, since a government that cannot spend money is hamstrung, also called loss of supply.

The chief minister's party will normally have a majority in the Legislative Assembly and party discipline is exceptionally strong in Sabahan politics, so passage of the government's legislation through the Legislative Assembly is mostly a formality.

Caretaker Chief Minister[edit]

The legislative assembly unless sooner dissolved by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri with His Excellency's own discretion on the advice of the chief minister shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting. The state constitution permits a delay of 90 days of general election to be held from the date of dissolution and the legislative assembly shall be summoned to meet on a date not later than 120 days from the date of dissolution. Conventionally, between the dissolution of one legislative assembly and the convening of the next, the chief minister and the cabinet remain in office in a caretaker capacity.

List of Chief Ministers of Sabah[edit]

The following is the list of Chief Ministers of Sabah since 1963:[2]

Colour key (for political parties):
  Barisan Nasional   WARISAN (allied with Pakatan Harapan)

# Portrait Name
Political party[a] Term of office Electoral
1 Tun Fuad Stephens.jpg Fuad Stephens
MLA for Kiulu, 1976
Sabah Alliance (UPKO) 16 September 1963 31 December 1964
2 Peter Lo Sui Yin.jpg Peter Lo Sui Yin
(b. 1923)
Sabah Alliance (SCA) 1 January 1965 12 May 1967
3 Mustapha Harun.jpg Mustapha Harun
MLA for Bengkoka-Banggi, 1967–1976
MLA for Banggi, 1976–1981
MLA for Usukan, 1985–1986, 1987–1994
Sabah Alliance (USNO) 12 May 1967 1 November 1975

1967 (3rd)
1971 (4th)

Said keruak.png
Mohammad Said Keruak
MLA for Usukan, 1967–1982
1 November 1975 18 April 1976 – (4th)
5 Tun Fuad Stephens.jpg Fuad Stephens
MLA for Kiulu, 1976
BN (BERJAYA) 18 April 1976 6 June 1976 1976 (5th)
6 Harris salleh.jpg Harris Salleh
(b. 1930)
MLA for Sipitang-Ulu Padas, 1967–1971
MLA for Tenom, 1976–1985
6 June 1976 22 April 1985

– (5th)
1981 (6th)

3 Mustapha Harun.jpg Mustapha Harun
MLA for Bengkoka-Banggi, 1967–1976
MLA for Banggi, 1976–1981
MLA for Usukan, 1985–1986, 1987–1994
BN (USNO) 22 April 1985 22 April 1985 – (7th)
7 Penampang Sabah Joseph-Pairin-Kitingan-02.jpg Joseph Pairin Kitingan
(b. 1940)
MLA for Tambunan, since 1976
PBS 22 April 1985 7 May 1986

1985 (7th)
1986 (8th)
1990 (9th)
1994 (10th)

BN (PBS) 7 May 1986 15 July 1990
GS (PBS) 15 July 1990 17 March 1994
8 Sakaran .jpg Sakaran Dandai
(b. 1930)
MLA for Semporna, 1967–1985
MLA for Sulabayan, 1985–1990, 1994
BN (UMNO) 17 March 1994 27 December 1994 – (10th)
9 Salleh17.jpg Salleh Said Keruak
(b. 1958)
MLA for Usukan,1994–2004
27 December 1994 28 May 1996 – (10th)
10 Yong Teck Lee.jpg Yong Teck Lee
(b. 1958)
MLA for Likas, 1985–2004
BN (SAPP) 28 May 1996 28 May 1998 – (10th)
11 Bernard Dompok.jpg Bernard Giluk Dompok
(b. 1949)
MLA for Moyog, 1986–1994
BN (PDS) 28 May 1998 14 March 1999 – (10th)
12 Osusukam.jpg Osu Sukam
(b. 1949)
MLA for Sulaman, 1986
MLA for Kawang, 1994–2004
BN (UMNO) 14 March 1999 27 March 2001 1999 (11th)
13 Chong-kahkiat.jpg Chong Kah Kiat
(b. 1948)
MLA for Kudat, 1981–1985, 1999–2004
MLA for Tanjong Kapor, 2004–2008
BN (LDP) 27 March 2001 27 March 2003 – (11th)
14 Penampang Sabah Musa-Aman-during-Kaamatan-2014-01.jpg Musa Aman
(b. 1951)
MLA for Sungai Sibuga, since 1994
BN (UMNO) 27 March 2003 12 May 2018[note 1]

– (11th)
2004 (12th)
2008 (13th)
2013 (14th)
2018 (15th)

15 ShafieApdal.jpg Shafie Apdal
(b. 1956)
MLA for Senallang, since 2018
WARISAN 12 May 2018[13] Incumbent – (15th)
  1. ^ This column names only the Chief Minister's party. The state government he heads may be a complex coalition of several parties and independents; those are not listed here.

Living former Chief Ministers[edit]

Name Term of office Date of birth
Peter Lo Sui Yin 1965–1967 19 May 1923 (age 95)
Harris Salleh 1976–1985 4 November 1930 (age 87)
Joseph Pairin Kitingan 1985–1994 17 August 1940 (age 77)
Sakaran Dandai 1994 15 April 1930 (age 88)
Salleh Said Keruak 1994–1996 9 July 1958 (age 60)
Yong Teck Lee 1996–1998 3 October 1958 (age 59)
Bernard Giluk Dompok 1998–1999 7 October 1949 (age 68)
Osu Sukam 1999–2001 19 February 1949 (age 69)
Chong Kah Kiat 2001–2003 2 June 1948 (age 70)
Musa Aman 2003–2018 30 March 1951 (age 67)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Musa stressed that he is still the Chief Minister despite his position has been disputed since 11 May 2018 in the aftermath of 2018 Sabah state election after losing majority seats following the crossover of Barisan Nasional (BN) party state seats members to Sabah Heritage Party (WARISAN).[3][4][5][6] Article 7(1) of the Sabah State Constitution also expressly stipulates that if the Chief Minister ceases to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, then, unless at his request the Head of State (TYT) dissolves the Assembly, the Chief Minister shall tender the resignation of the members of the Cabinet. In the present situation, WARISAN had more assemblymen than BN after six BN assemblymen agreed to join the WARISAN coalition. Hence, by virtue of the said Article 7(1), Musa has ceased to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly and should have tendered his resignation.[7][8] Furthermore, according to Shafie, the TYT had requested for Musa to step down but still did not doing so.[9][10] He was then issued a letter from the TYT that he is no longer the Chief Minister effective from 12 May 2018 that was delivered into his residence on 14 May 2018.[11][12]


  1. ^ "Rotation discontinued after landslide BN election victory". Daily Express (Malaysia). 1 January 2005. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Sabah". Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Katrina Khairul Azman (11 May 2018). "Disappointed Sabahans Stage Protest After Jeffrey Joins BN To Form State Govt". Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  4. ^ Alyaa Azhar (10 May 2018). "Despite protests, Musa Aman sworn in as Sabah CM". Malaysiakini. Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  5. ^ Alyaa Azhar (11 May 2018). "Shafie: We don't recognise Sabah government's legitimacy". Malaysiakini. Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  6. ^ Avila Geraldine; Norasikin Daineh (11 May 2018). "Warisan now has 35 seats, enough to form state government: Shafie [NSTTV]". New Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  7. ^ Suraini Andokong (13 May 2018). "Shafie's appointment constitutionally valid – lawyer". The Borneo Post. Retrieved 13 May 2018. 
  8. ^ "Constitution of the State of Sabah [LIST OF AMENDMENTS]". State Government of Sabah. Retrieved 13 May 2018. 
  9. ^ Rodelio Junjun Taucan (12 May 2018). "Tun Juhar arah Musa letak jawatan" (in Malay). Utusan Malaysia. Retrieved 13 May 2018. 
  10. ^ Ruzaini Zulkepli (13 May 2018). "Warisan tidak akan sama dengan UMNO - Shafie Apdal" (in Malay). Astro Awani. Retrieved 13 May 2018. 
  11. ^ "Istana serah surat kepada Musa" (in Malay). Berita Harian. 14 May 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  12. ^ Samantha Khor (14 May 2018). "[BREAKING] Musa Aman Is No Longer Chief Minister Of Sabah". Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  13. ^ Sadho Ram (12 May 2018). "Sabah Musical Chairs To End With Shafie Swearing In As Chief Minister Tonight". Retrieved 12 May 2018.