Datuk Anifah Aman sprang a surprise tonight by turning down his appointment as Deputy Transport Minister in the new Cabinet line-up announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi earlier today.

Anifah told Bernama: “I have already been a Deputy Minister for two terms and I feel it’s time for me to make way for a younger person to hold this post.”

This is believed to be the first time that someone appointed a deputy minister has declined the appointment after it was publicly announced.

Anifah, 54, refused to state other reasons for his decision.

“I thank the prime minister for appointing me but I have decided not to accept it,” said Anifah, who was previously deputy minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities.

Anifah is the younger brother of Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Musa was not available for comments tonight on this latest in a series of political developments in the country following the March 8 general election when the Barisan Nasional (BN) retained power but lost its two-third majority in Parliament.

The BN also lost four states — Penang, Selangor, Perak and Kedah — to the opposition while failing to recapture Kelantan from PAS which has been in power in the state since 1990.

Anifah was first elected Member of Parliament for Beaufort in the 1999 general election.

He was re-elected in the 2004 election, this time in the Kimanis constituency.

In the March 8 election, Anifah retained the Kimanis seat in a four-cornered fight.