KOTA KINABALU: The Kitingan brothers, Joseph Pairin and Jeffrey, are set to lock horns again for contest of the Kadazandusun and Murut heartland of Keningau parliamentary constituency.
Pairin, who is the president of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), one of the members of the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN), is expected to defend the Keningau seat in the coming 13th general election.
In the last general election in 2008 he defeated his younger brother Jeffrey who contested on a PKR ticket in a three-cornered fight that included an independent candidate. Pairin polled 14,598 to Jeffrey’s 10,334 while independent Peter Kodou managed 560 votes and lost his deposit.
Jeffrey is also contesting for the state seat of Bingkor again. In 2008 he polled 4,418 votes, narrowly losing to BN candidate Justin Guka who won with a 171 majority by polling 4,589 votes. Two independents, Thomas Anggan and Victor Leonardus, lost their election deposits.
The STAR chairman has expressed confidence that the STAR’s pact with two other Sabah-based political parties, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Usno could pull a surprise out of the bag against the ruling BN and the opposition front Pakatan Rakyat that comprises PKR, DAP, PAS and the Pakatan friendly groupings APS and APPS.
He believes the failure to reach a pact with the opposition coalition will not affect the state-based parties and will in fact complement their Borneo Agenda vs Malaya Agenda approach.
“It will be difficult to ensure a one-to-one fight because there will be independent candidates and so on. Anyway, Pakatan intends to take it all so it is better to know it now than later,” he said.
The maverick politician, often criticised for frequently switching allegiances and parties, based his confidence on the encouraging response received from voters who he claimed wanted to see drastic changes in Sabah’s role and position in Malaysia.
He said this fitted well with local opposition parties’ agenda of restoring Sabah’s economic and political autonomy.
“We have not seen a negative response. We have seen only enthusiastic response everywhere we went. If this is a reflection of the voting behaviour, we can expect to be given the mandate to take over the government,” Jeffrey was quoted as telling a local daily this week.
He said his party has been vigorously campaigning on the ground the past few years and that the party’s election machinery was ready to tap the sentiment of Sabahans.
Seat distribution between STAR, SAPP and Usno has also been sorted out, he claimed, adding that there would be “friendly contests” in certain areas.
Malaya Agenda vs Borneo Agenda
STAR, is sticking to its initial plan of focusing on mostly Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) areas in the west and interior part of the State, while SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party) will go for urban areas.
Usno is entrusted to tackle the mostly Muslim-majority seats now controlled by Sabah Umno in the east coast.
“Of course, we have been campaigning all this while. The focus now is to get more support, by ensuring the people understand our agendas,” said Jeffrey.
“We may not agree 100% on everything but we are trying to negotiate these minor differences. The important thing now is to get the people to understand and support our objectives.
“Our strategy is that one-to-one means Malaya Agenda versus Borneo Agenda, meaning voting for Pakatan Rakyat or BN is voting for Malaya Agenda and voting for us is voting for Borneo Agenda. This is what we are trying to do, together with SAPP,” he said.
STAR, he said, is targeting “at least 41 seats” and confirmed he would contest the Bingkor state seat as well as the parliamentary seat of Keningau.
The party’s list of candidates is almost completed and will be announced next week, he added.
“We are still looking at who are the best options,” he said.