Rattled by a surging State Reform Party (STAR) led by his brother Jeffrey, Sabah deputy chief minister Pairin Kitingan has sent Najib Tun Razak an SOS.
KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who had been to Sabah twice this year, is coming again to this state most likely at the end of this month to help steady “paramount chief” Joseph Pairin Kitingan and his under threat Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).
Najib will travel to Tambunan and Keningau. Security protocol is already busy preparing for the “important one-day trip”, party insiders claim is at the request of the ageing and embattled Pairin, the long-serving Huguan Siou of the Kadazandusuns in Sabah.
Pairin who is a deputy chief minister under Musa Aman, has been under pressure to turn the tide against his once mighty PBS and the Barisan Nasional.
All PBS seats, including Pairin’s Tambunan and Keningau, are now said to be under serious threat from a surging State Reform Party (Star), led by his younger brother Jeffrey.
Sources said local organisers have been busy preparing for Najib to officiate at the ground-breaking of the PBS-initiated KDM College in Tambunan. They are also preparing for Najib’s possible visit to the iconic Rumah Besar OKK Sodomon in Bingkor, Keningau which once hosted his father Razak Hussein.
The Rumah Besar, the home of OKK Sedomon Gunsanad, a revered interior leader, hosted Razak in 1962 when he came to Keningau to explain the proposal to create a new nation called Malaysia to the native chiefs and community leaders in the Sabah’s interior.
At that time the “interior” meant the whole areas of Keningau, Tambunan, Pensiangan, Nabawan, Sook, Ranau, Tenom, Sipitang, Beaufort and even Labuan.
The Gunsanad family gave Sabah one other great leader in Samson Sundang, Sedomon’s younger brother, who is more popularly referred in books as GS Sundang. Sundang went on to become Sabah deputy chief minister in the early Malaysia years.
Both of them represented the overwhelming view of the interior and other parts of then North Borneo, who rejected the Malaysia proposal and instead opted for a different path to independence and possibly create a new federation with other states.
They were eventually won over by assurances and pledges that Sabah was to be a sovereign nation within the new Malaysian federation with the 20 Points laid out as “conditions” for Sabah’s agreeing to federate.
Razak also made several pledges at the Rumah Besar in 1962, trying to convince the skeptical interior leaders of the Malaysia idea. The 20 Points is still considered the very foundation of all “agreements” that culminated into the signing of a simple one-page Malaysia Agreement in London in 1963 that paved the way for the birth of a “new” federation.
Initially Najib’s visit was to be carried out sometime next week but top political players in the state have now planned for it possibly during the Harvest Festival or “Tadau Kaamatan” which climaxes at the Hongkod Koisaan, the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association building in Penampang near here on May 30 and 31.
PBS leaders would see it as a coup if they could get Najib to go on his popular handshaking walkabout at the various stalls in the compound of the building on Kaamatan day which would be filled with revelers.
They believe it would be the perfect opportunity for Najib to belatedly announce the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the issuance of MyKad to thousands of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Time is running out for Pairin as well as his ‘2012 solve-by-date’ deadline to the federal government to solve the issue of thousands of illegal immigrants having been allowed to make the state their home by being offered citizenship and voting rights.
Any concession by Najib and the federal government would allow Pairin to bask in a pyrrhic victory on the state’s illegal immigrant issue and raise the fortunes of his doddering party.
But any concession will come at a cost as Najib is also expected to reveal some insight into the term of reference (TOR) for any such RCI which skeptics say would castrate it.