SakSaMa: Failing PBS tottering on brink of irrelevance

Photo credit: FMT

Outgoing PBS President Joseph Pairin Kitingan, “the Lion of Tambunan”, was all about how a political party should not be run in Sabah .
PRESS STATEMENT We can dismiss the changing of the guard at the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) on Friday as coming too little, too late. If the Opposition gets its act together, it will be tough for PBS unless the latter delivers at least on the RCI Report to stay relevant.

PBS doesn’t even mention the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). There could be no greater indication of its failure and irrelevance.

If PBS is not about RCI and MA63, we want to know, what’s it about?

PBS was never itself again after the Sabah Government it led was toppled in 1994 through defections. The party, in hindsight, should have stayed together after two Assemblymen defected, but it didn’t.

Let’s go through the toll.

After Akar broke away earlier and Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) just before the 1994 state election, two other breakaway groups were also formed viz. Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS), the latter now known as United PasokMomogun KDM Organisation (Upko).

PBS President Joseph Pairin Kitingan should have resigned when his government fell in 1994. That’s what a democratic leader would have done.

Instead, he stayed around too long and degenerated into a toothless old tiger. In 1984, he was hailed as the “Lion of Tambunan”.

Pairin wasn’t even staying around long enough now to see some progress on the RCI Report on Illegal Immigrants. There’s speculation that he’s gave up the PBS Presidency on Friday because his proposal for a Sabah IC was rejected.

Two other speculation is that Pairin was “ailing”, but the more “credible” theory is that he’s “sick of it all” in the wake of the RCI Report. Whatever the speculation, the RCI Report means the last rites for PBS.

Since Pairin is leaving after outstaying his welcome, Acting President Maximus Jonity Ongkili will witness the last rites for the PBS. Ongkili should not even bother taking over the PBS presidency.

PBS would be riding high today if it did not make that fateful decision in 2002 to re-join the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and compound its earlier strategic errors. Then BN Chairman Mahathir Mohamad, after having thundered that the BN’s doors were closed forever, re-admitted PBS.

Mahathir waited until PBS had been whittled down from 25 state seats to 13 before re-admitting it into the coalition. Mahathir knew that PBS outside BN would be far more dangerous than if it were to be inside. Earlier, he declared that not only were the doors to BN closed forever to PBS, even the keys had been thrown away.

All the huffing and puffing by Mahathir on Sabah clearly came to naught when PBS was re-admitted into the BN. Pairin should not have patched up with a man who stands accused of padding the electoral rolls in Sabah with illegal immigrants armed with MyKads. PBS was truly lost that day.

If PBS continued to win seats in elections after that, it was by default, as the opposition was virtually non-existent.

Now that the Opposition in Sabah was finally getting its act together, PBS’ days are numbered.

PBS also lost a great opportunity to re-invent itself when it failed to bring back Akar, Sapp, PBRS and Upko into its fold. Akar merged with Umno.

There would also have been no Upko if Pairin had resigned in 1994 and allowed Bernard Giluk Dompok to take over the PBS Presidency.

Instead, Pairin may have even encouraged Dompok to form PDS/Upko just to get rid of him.

Pairin encouraged Jeffrey, his younger brother to join PBRS and later Akar, even Umno, before he went back to PBRS and got sacked. He was sacked from Akar as well.

There’s no reason either to keep Jeffrey Kitingan outside PBS. He would have made a far better leader than Ongkili who is only taking over because he’s a Kitingan nephew.

Jeffrey was incarcerated under the draconian ISA in the 90s for flogging MA63. He was also blamed for PBS’ pullout from BN on the eve of General Election in 1990.

Ongkili was pulled in under the ISA at the same time as Jeffrey, allegedly also for the pullout, but released after two months. The latter was given two two-year terms but released early to prevent the detention being an issue in the 1994 state election.

 

Jack Giau

Secretary-General

Gabungan Rakyat SakSaMa (SakSaMa), Kota Kinabalu

 

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