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‘PKR will pull down opposition’

 | February 11, 2011

The yet-to-be consolidated Borneo Alliance is confident of wresting 56 parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak in the 13th general election.

KOTA KINABALU: Controversial politician Jeffrey Kitingan is unperturbed by soothsayers and pundits who dismiss him as “unreliable” and “a political has-been”.

“When I joined PKR, I created a momentum here and drew in the membership… then things changed in Kuala Lumpur. We didn’t like what was happening with the leadership. I left.

“They thought that when I left, the situation will be better… but now you can see for yourself,” he said, referring to the chaotic state Sabah PKR is in.

Last Saturday, newly appointed Sabah PKR chief Pajudin Nordin quit the party and in a shocking move joined Umno.

Pajudin, who joined the party in 1999, said he had lost confidence in the party leadership headed by Anwar Ibrahim.

On Feb 6, party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail took over the state as Sabah’s interim chief, replacing Pajudin. She set up a Sabah presidential council to replace the beleaguered Sabah PKR liaison committee.

In an exclusive interview with FMT recently, Jeffrey, a former PKR vice-president, said: “If election were to come now, PKR is in no position to mobilise its members.

“The people who supported PKR are no longer there. Those who are still there are in two minds…

“I think it is not just here but also in Sarawak. I don’t think PKR can capture Sarawak either.

“At this point PKR will drag down the opposition (in Sabah and Sarawak).”

Sarawak on threshold of change

In contrast, Jeffrey is upbeat about his fast materialising political baby, the “Borneo Alliance”.

The Borneo Alliance, which will be a coalition of Sabah and Sarawak parties, champions Jeffrey’s Borneo Agenda.

The agenda calls on the federal government to honour the terms of the 20- and 18-point agreements signed with Sabah and Sarawak respectively in 1963.

According to Jeffrey, the Borneo Alliance will “capture most of the 56 parliamentary seats” at stake in Sabah and Sarawak in the coming general election.

His confidence “comes from the ground” and the mood among the peoples in Sabah and Sarawak, he said.

“In Sarawak, there is a better understanding of the Borneo Agenda. When I went to Sarawak last year, I realised that a majority of the Dayaks were keen on change.

“In fact, I was surprised at their reception. In my second visit to Sarawak, they talked more than I did.

“Sarawakians are actually more Borneon than I am, only that they have not gone through what we have gone through in Sabah. In Sabah, the shift is slower,” he said.

Jeffrey said Sarawak was on the threshold of change.

“Most analysts are predicting a 50:50 (seat ratio) win in the Peninsula. They say the 166 seats in Peninsula this time will be split between BN and Pakatan.

“So together, Sabah and Sarawak can decide who will go to Putrajaya,” he said.

“We realise this and want to make sure we are heard this time,” he said, adding that his UBF (United Borneo Front) has been on the road in Sabah and Sarawak talking to communities about this “window of opportunity” to consolidate the 56 seats in the two states.

Muslim seats a challenge

Jeffrey, who is less concerned about the state seats, believes that no matter how strong Sabah and Sarawak governments are, “Putrajaya will not care to listen” to them unless the 56 MPs are from Borneo Alliance.

“If we do our job to mobilise our campaign, then the Borneo Alliance can pick up most of the seats in Sabah.

“In Sabah, the urban areas are ready for change; the Kadazandusun and Murut areas are all for the Borneo Agenda.

“We are getting the same support in the mixed areas.

“But we are still weak in the Umno stronghold (Muslim seats) but we will try our best to get as many seats here as possible,” he said.

Only solution

After 47 years of being manipulated by Kuala Lumpur, Jeffrey sees the Borneo Alliance as the only solution for Sabah and Sarawak.

His currently faceless Borneo Alliance is steadily taking shape.

In the Entilibon district last week, he told 250 excited villagers that a new party will come to birth in March.

Later in Kota Kinabalu, he quelled curiosity when he disclosed that he was in discussions with the currently dormant Sabah Democratic Peoples Power Party or Setia (Parti Demokratic Setisehati Kuasa Rakyat Sabah).

In Sarawak, the re-emerging Sarawak National Party (SNAP) has already subscribed to Jeffrey’s Borneo Agenda.

And in Sabah, Jeffrey is hoping to anchor the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) which has also been championing a “Sabah for Sabahans” call.

“Ideally, all the opposition parties should rally together… UBF is open to working with anyone on the Borneo Agenda,” he said.

Asked how he would convince Sabah DAP (which is historically at odds with SAPP) to support his agenda, Jeffrey said: “We will do strategic positioning… Borneo Alliance will work with Pakatan and whichever party is  capable of winning, but we would want to hold the majority…”


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