Political maverick Jeffrey Kitingan is disappointed in Lajim Ukin and Wilfred Bumburing's decision to align themselves with Pakatan Rakyat.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan has likened Lajim Ukin and Wilfred Bumburing’s decision to align themselves with PKR instead of state-based parties to that of “subconsciously perpetuating a subservient political mentality” in Sabah.
“I would have preferred them to be with me in State Reform Party (STAR) as it is better for us Sabahan leaders to be in our own strength to correct the situation we are in,” he said here.
Bumburing and Lajim had on July 29 officially aligned themselves with Pakatan Rakyat, especially with PKR, in a move many see as a selfish effort to prolong their respective stay in politics.
Both leaders were openly known to be on Barisan Nasional’s drop-list as candidates in the impending general election. Lajim had openly accused Sabah Umno head and Chief Minister Musa Aman of dropping him.
Bumburing, in his speech at a function in Tuaran, which was attended by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, tried to defend his stand.
He said that Upko president Bernard Dompok had asked him to stand in the coming elections but he had declined.
“I told him… ‘not this time as BN candidate, brother’.
“The blogs said I was ditching BN because I was not going to be a candidate but this is not true…,” Bumburing said in Tuaran, trying to ignore an openly known Upko arrangement in 2008 in which he was to give way again to his immediate predecessor, Madius Tangau.
Jeffrey in an interview with FMT said that Bumburing failed to understand the role of kingmaker in the event of a hung Parliament.
“In fact, I did ask Bumburing prior to his joining Pakatan why he was not joining STAR, and he said he was not very clear with the kingmaker role STAR is advocating, and that it could mean we could go for either BN or Pakatan.
“I explained to him that the kingmaker role is not a thing we look for but it is already there for us to take up. We need to have this king-making role in order to pursue our rights…” he said.
‘We don’t want to be subservient’
He also said that STAR stood for change “but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are bargaining with BN and Pakatan but it means we will be in a position to leverage”.
“Obviously, we are for change but it is not going to be automatic in the Pakatan field; we have to be independent and work together later with Pakatan in order to correct the situation,” he said.
The situation he was referring to was the predicament of Sabah and Sarawak where they have little bargaining power with Putrajaya.
Many here had suspected that Anwar and Pakatan are only interested in eight MP seats in Sabah and at least 10 in Sarawak. This will be enough to tilt the equation to Pakatan’s favour at the coming election.
This is what is worrying Jeffrey, who has been pursuing the reinstatement of an independent sovereign state of Sabah within the federation.
“If they [Lajim and Bumburing] are already inside Pakatan’s playing field, what are their leverage to advocate for Sabah’s rights?
“We, and the people in Sabah, do not want this state to be just subservient to another Malaya-based party (Pakatan).
“In fact, when I asked Bumburing what would happen if Pakatan disagrees with his struggle for Sabah rights, he told me he would leave [Pakatan], but then leave to where? To BN?
“My idea is for Sabahans to be united in pursuing their rights. Yes, we can work with them [Pakatan] but definitely not work under them.
“I want Sabah and Sarawak to be free in determining their own matters as long as we do it right,” said Jeffrey.
Anwar not sincere
Jeffrey was once jailed for almost three years under the now-repealed draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly trying to get Sabah out of Malaysia.
The maverick politician also had a bitter experience with Anwar when he was in PKR, where Anwar became annoyed with Jeffrey’s call for a review on many matters pertaining to Sabah, including the Malaysia Agreement itself.
In 2007, Anwar, during a PKR political talk in Putatan, where Jeffrey was present, said while he would agree to many changes in Sabah, he would never agree to reviewing Malaysia Agreement.
When Jeffrey tried to ink an accord of sorts with Anwar and PKR on several pertinent points regarding Sabah and Sarawak’s autonomous rights and the perennial issue of illegal immigrants, Anwar flatly refused.
Anwar, who had asked Jeffrey to refine the accord, called the Tambunan Declaration, later refused to sign it due to pressure from his Malayan colleagues.
Eventually they even blocked Jeffrey from leading Sabah PKR, though the majority of PKR members in Sabah wanted him for the post.
Most of the points in the Tambunan Declaration are now contained in the eight-point Borneo Agenda that STAR is promoting.