The growing groundswell for change in Sabah has compelled Jeffrey Kitingan to review his decison to stay out of the political race.
“He’s my brother but this is not about family, it’s about politics. The ground swells for change.
“As much as I wish not to stand, I must do so now,” he said explaining his decision to contest in Keningau, where Pairin is incumbent.
Jeffrey believes that this time round he is on firmer grounds.
Following his defeat in the 2008 general election against Pairin in the Keningau parliamentary constituency, Jeffrey had decided to stay out of the political race.
But the political landscape in the country and in Sabah has changed since the 2008 tsunami.
Jeffrey himself is now seen as a beacon of change amongst the younger Kadazan Dusun and Murut community with whom his Borneo Agenda resonates well.
Jeffrey helms the Sabah chapter of the State Reform Party (STAR) ,an opposition group which is pushing for the reinstatement of the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Since its launch six months ago, the party has chalked a membership of 165,000 people, 60% of whom are below 45-years-old. The bulk this group comprise educated and professional youths.
Asked if Pairin is supportive of his party and Borneo Agenda, Jefffey said: ‘I don’t know… but he once told me ‘buat yang terbaik’ when I thanked him for letting us use the KDCA (Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association) hall for the STAR launch.
Jeffrey’s a visionary
In the coming election STAR has said that it will contest in all 60 state seats and 25 parliamentary constituency. Whether or not this pledge materialises is left to be seen
Pairin is the MP for Keningau and the state assemblyman for nearby Tambunan constituency.
“I will contest in Keningau again. I’m hoping he (Pairin) will not go for the seat anymore.
“He (Pairin) has served the constituency for 30 years,” Jeffrey said who is also planning to contest the state seat of Bingkor.
In the last election, Jeffrey lost the seat in a four-cornered fight. He lost the seat to BN’s Justine Guka by 171 votes.
A Harvard graduate, Jeffrey remains an enigma to many. His political history is littered with shifts and jumps.
He was formerly a member of his brother’s Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS). Unhappy here, he later joined Parti Angkatan Keadilan Rakyat (Akar Bersatu). Then he moved to Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).
But this too did not last as he joined Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR and was later appointed as party’s vice-president until his resignation in October 2009 over differences with the leadership.
But looking at Jeffrey’s growing legion of supporters, it appears that he may have the support of the people in Sabah.
Said STAR youth chief Hasmin Azroy, a teacher: “Dr Jeffrey is a visionary. We are educated, we understand his thoughts and his ideas for Sabah.
“Our job now is to educate the people about the Malaysia Agreement and the 20-points. The people must know this first. The winning will eventaully come, ” he said.