Jeffrey Kitingan hopes to reset the political equation in Sabah and Sarawak by empowering the young with the true spirit of the Malaysia Agreement.
KOTA KINABALU August 13, 2012: Maverick politician Jeffrey Kitingan is doing his best to drum home his mantra that the people of Sabah and Sarawak are the political ‘kingmakers’ in the future of the nation.
The Sabah STAR chairman wants Sabahans and Sarawakians to capitalise on this unique position in the coming general election to regain their semi-autonomous state within Malaya and be a partner in the federation rather than just two of 13 states.
Sabah and Sarawak, he said has a unique opportunity to reinstate themselves as independent nation and equal partners in the federation of Malaysia, in accordance to the true spirit of Malaysia Agreement.
“We need to leverage this for the good of the country, not for the party or for the good of individuals.
“I would like the leaders and the people to understand this. Don’t play around with the concept of kingmaker.
“Although the two states are already the kingmaker, particularly during the 2008 general election, they have yet to capitalise or benefit from this potential.
“Even sadder, a lot of people are not just suspicious but politicised the negative aspects of being the kingmaker,” Jeffrey, the younger brother of Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) chief who is also a deputy chief minister, added.
He pointed out that leaders in Sabah and Sarawak have been in the politics of divide and rule for so long that most them seemed no longer able to see beyond this particular arena.
“I notice that the leaders are unable to see things anymore, their mind is not thinking. So, it’s faster to get to the people first, to get them to understand and then the leaders will catch up.
“If you begin with the leaders, first of all they will shut their mind and not be receptive.
“That’s why we begin with the people, the young people especially, and from there we will be able to influence the leaders,” said Jeffrey.
‘We want to be independent’
Sabah and Sarawak, he stressed, must appreciate and fully leverage their potential as the kingmaker comes the 13th general election to regain their status as equal partners to Malaya.
Towards this, he said, the people of Sabah and Sarawak should understand that this time around they have to unite outside the existing political frame controlled by peninsular-based parties.
“Sabahans and Sarawakians must start to think from outside the box to take charge of their future in Malaysia.
“Inside the box of Barisan, Umno controls you and inside the box of Pakatan Rakyat, PKR may control you.
“So we need to be outside the boxes, we want to be independent to make our own stand and to work with them, not under them.
“This means that if we have a choice, we should choose the right one, the right one being those who restore our rights, give back our oil and solve our problems.
“If both of them (BN and Pakatan) are 50-50, both of them offer the same thing. We shall choose for change, most likely Pakatan, to work with them not as as subservient but equal partner to change the country,” he said.
Jeffrey said Sabah and Sarawak should push for more parliamentary seats to have more decision making power in the parliament, as currently they are at the disadvantage with about two thirds of the parliamentary representation are currently concentrated in Peninsular Malaysia.
“It is so unfair now. For example, Keningau, my area, is almost 4,000 sq km. I can put three Semenanjung states, namely Perlis, Penang and Malacca inside Keningau with still plenty of room left.
“But Keningau consists only one parliamentary seat, two DUN (state seats), one district officer while in the three states on the other hand, there are 83 DUN seats, 26 parliaments, there Menteris Besar, two Sultans and one governor.
“If it is not even fair to compare the three states with Keningau, how do you imagine the whole of Sabah being compared to say Perlis.
“The service in Sabah is the same as in Perlis because they regard Sabah as just one of the 13 states.
“So, this is what I mean we need to do justice to Sabah. Don’t downgrade Sabah. Sabah is equal to the whole Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak, not just the states in Peninsular,” he said.
Give local parties a chance
In this regards, he said it is also important for the people to understand why Pakatan or other Semenanjung-based parties should concentrate in Peninsular Malaysia and leave Sabah seats to local-based parties.
National parties must give a chance to local parties to contest seats meant for representing Sabah and Sarawak, otherwise it would mean they were not sincere in respecting the autonomy of the two states.
“They already have 165 parliamentary seats to contest, about 75 percent of what is available. In Sabah there is only 25 seats. Why do you want everything?
“We don’t want them to operate in the same manner like Umno, in the name of national politics you want to grab everything for your own agenda.
“We want genuine cooperation, working side by side as partners, not as subservient partner but equal partner,” he said.
On Sabah STAR’s preparation for the coming general election, Jeffrey, who is expected to contest Keningau seat currently held by his elder brother Pairin, said Sabah STAR has been confirmed as one of the registered political parties recognised by the Election Commission (EC).
He has prepared a long list of qualified candidates to be fielded, although the final names will only be finalised by Sept 6.
Sabah STAR candidates will be mostly new, young and fresh individuals who will identify with the young voters.
“We are eyeing 22 to 36 state seats and seven to eleven parliamentary seats. Of course we will be negotiating with other political parties and we are hoping at the end, we can contest 25 to 26 of the state seats,” he said.
Jeffrey said the United Borneo Alliance (UBA) headed by him will be organising a meeting on Sept 13 for all the opposition leaders to discuss common grounds.