STAR chairman Jeffrey Kitingan is resigned to the fact that his party will face multi-cornered fights 'everywhere' they contest in the 13th GE.
KOTA KINABALU July 5, 2012: Veteran politician Jeffrey Kitingan is bracing his team for a multi-cornered fight in Sabah, now that Upko deputy president Wilfred Bumburing has denied rumours of him joining PKR.
Returning home after yet another ‘fruitless’ meeting with Pakatan Rakyat officials in KL recently, Kitingan, who heads the Sabah chapter of the State Reform Party (STAR), said this would be the “logical” road for them to take.
“We will keep trying to negotiate and discuss, but we will prepare for a multi-cornered fight. I feel this will be a logical road for STAR,” he told FMT.
Following his meeting last week, Kitingan was left with having to deal with a thorny issue of Bumburing’s ‘neither here nor there’ stand.
Bumburing together with Umno’s westcoast warlord Lajim Ukin have for months kept speculators on their toes.
Both were tipped to join PKR having allegedly met with party de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim over their much touted plans to quit their respective parties.
But recently both have declared that they will not move. But more importantly, they’ve indicated that they want to contest.
Lajim has said that he’s been dropped from Sabah Umno’s candidate list and Bumburing may have to give up his Tuaran seat to Upko secretary-general Wilfred Madius Tangau who’s wanting it back. Tangau’s deal with Bumburing in 2008, was for one parliamentary term.
SAPP still a headache
Meanwhile PKR it appears is no longer interested in Bumburing and Lajim, leaving Kitingan to ‘deal’ with Bumburing.
Said Jeffrey: “PKR has given DAP here leeway to deal with negotiations…Now we know the game so we must decide our path.
“I’ve spoken to Bumburing, he does not understand our agenda. He says our proposal to be kingmaker is confusing.
“He doesn’t understand that we need the numbers to leverage Sabah’s position to negotiate for higher royalties and others.
“But I have not given up yet.. I am still giving Bumburing and group a chance.
“If we cannot convince Bumburing, we are confident of convincing others in his group.”
Kitingan was alluding to speculations that some nine MPS and assemblymen are ‘ready’ to ditch ruling Barisan National the moment Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak dissolves parliament.
Bumburing aside, Kitingan is also ‘sorting’ seats with DAP and PAS, a meeting with the latter leadership is scheduled to take place in Kota Kinabalu soon.
“We do not see a problem with DAP. They are clear about where they will contest. PAS is also not a problem for us. It’s SAPP (Sabah Progressive Peoples Party) that bothers me.
“They want to go into KDM areas but I think it is better left to us,” Kitingan said.
Earlier this year STAR, reportedly fueled by its overzealous ‘young turks’, announced that it would contest all 60 state and 25 parliamentary seats, but a pragmatic Kitigan is now saying that may not happen
“We will focus on seats that we can win. We are looking at perhaps half the numbers.
“We will contest in all the KDM seats for sure and some mixed seats.
“I am not worried about the multi-cornered fights… we will rely on our rising support,” he said alluding to STAR’s 175,000 and rising members.
The bulk of STAR’s members are young educated Sabahans, who understand Kitingan’s struggle and vision for Sabahans who’ve allegedly suffered under Umno-BN’s unjust policies.
The party already has 90% of its candidates sorted and expects to put the shortlised ones through Transparency-International Malaysia’s one day ‘training’ programme.
Majority of them are professionals and teachers who are under 40 years of age.
‘I’m in the process of sorting out the candidate list. It should be ready by July 14.
“All our shortlisted candidates will undergo Transparency International’s full day training,” course,” said Kitingan.
He added that potential candidates would also be required to sign a loyalty pledge to ensure its candidates remain loyal if they win in the 13th general election.
“The grassroots are wanting an assurance that the leaders they choose will not jump to another party if they win in the election.
“For this reason we will make sure all of them agree and sign a pledge, including the Integrity International Pledge so that they will not abuse their powers, ” he said.
He said the pledge will also ensure that these leaders focus on serving the people and not on feathering their own respective nests.
To that end, Kitingan said that all STAR’s elected representatives will have an equipped service centre to do their work and sufficient allowance to carry out their duties smoothly.
“They will receive allowances so they can survive. We want them to understand that being a people’s representative means they have to give and serve and not just take.
“Only by having such attitude will we be able to have a new breed of quality leaders.
“And that is what STAR is fighting for,” he said.