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Political frogs: Jeffrey under attack

 | June 28, 2012

A veteran politician opined that it is more important what a 'political frog' did during his leadership in a particular party than the jump itself.

KOTA KINABALU : State Reform Party (STAR) Sabah chairman Jeffrey Kitingan’s statement that “all Sabah politicians are frogs” in Bingkor last Sunday seems to have poked right into the hornet’s nest.

Politicians across the divide and coffeeshops are abuzz with arguments over who is or is not a “frog” in Sabah.

A barrage of defensive attacks against Kitingan by Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders made the local newspapers today, with vehement denials that Chief Minister Musa Aman and his deputy Joseph Pairin Kitingan ever were “frogs”, a term often used to demean politicians who ‘hopped’ from party to party.

Sabah BN secretary, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, said Kitingan’s accusation that Musa was also “frog” was both wrong and laughable.

“Musa changed party because there was an understanding that Usno was being dissolved for Umno to take over its functions.

“Even Pairin ditched Berjaya to form Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) because of fundamental principles,” said Abdul Rahman who is also MP for Kota Belud.

He refused to delve into the fact that Pairin also had joined Pasok briefly before his PBS was registered in time for the 1985 general election in Sabah.

Sabah’s Assistant Finance Minister, Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan, who is close to Musa meanwhile said it was a sad day for politics in Sabah when a politician used words such as “to look for solutions for Sabah” as an excuse to defend his hopping six times from one party to the next.

“Musa did not jump from Usno to Umno. He joined Umno when the party was the opposition in Sabah at that time but more importantly he did not party-hop as an elected representative unlike Dr Jeffrey (Kitingan),” Tawfiq said.

PBS information chief, Johnny Mositun meanwhile, accused Kitingan of hopping into another party every time he failed to secure the top leadership post in a particular party he was in.

“Sabahans know his background and will judge him accordingly,” Mositun said.

Blogs in favour of Kitingan

Meanwhile, another Umno leader who is also the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Masidi Manjun, said Kitingan’s excuse was lame.

“Jeffrey’s (Kitingan) favourite game is hop, step and jump”, Masidi said.

In his speech at the launching of STAR Bingkor, Kitingan said that all Sabah politicians are “frogs” and that he was not the only one who switched parties.

He also said that while he hopped “seeking” for solutions for Sabah, others were selfish enough and only stayed with a party that gave them comfortable positions and lucrative benefits, sometimes sacrificing their true struggle for Sabah and its people.

“They are actually ‘fat frogs’ now, so they don’t jump anymore..,” he said describing his past moves as principled and based on a ‘struggle’ to regain the independence and autonomy of Sabah.

Meanwhile a random check of comments posted on blogs and websites over the issue leaned in favour of Kitingan.

Many postings defended him as a true fighter and seeker of justice for Sabahans, while others were merely doing it for their own self-interest.

The local grapevine and coffeeshop natter meanwhile are abuzz with names of those who had leapt before and speculations of who will do it now and for what purpose.

The auditing by the laymen revealed that Musa was once a member of Berjaya party which was led by Harris Salleh. He later joined Usno and is now with Umno.

There’s also rumours that Pairin, the Huguan Siou of the Kadazandusun, was once linked to the now defunct Pekemas in 1970s and another party USAP or BUNAP.

‘Jumping not the issue’

Others also claimed that Pairin was instrumental in the setting up of Upko even while Bernard Dompok was still in PBS. Dompok now leads Upko.

“Can we say Pairin encouraged party-hoping then?” asked a man during a friendly coffeeshop discourse in Kota Belud, 70 km from here.

Veteran politician, Fredoline Edwin Lojingki, 72, however is of the view that ‘jumping’ is less of the issue than what a politician does during his leadership.

“In Sabah, actually all are frogs, but who among these frogs are really fighting for the state rights and the people?” he argued.

Lojingki, who was with Unko in 1960s and then with PBS until he quit the party recently to join STAR also opined that there is a great difference between what Kitingan is trying to achieve and that of his other contemporaries in Sabah’s politics.

“Yes Jeffrey (Kitingan) jumped parties, but clearly he was not doing it for his own self interest, otherwise he could have just stuck with a ruling party, kept his mouth shut and enjoyed all the perks and leisure time, no need to travel to the remotest places in Sabah just to tell them what their rights are…” said the veteran activist.

Meanwhile Kitingan has yet to respond to the barrage of attacks by BN leaders on him.

When contacted Kitingan declined to respond but said that ‘issue’ would continue to reverberate among the grassroots here ahead of a looming general election that ultimately would decide all the leaders’ future.


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