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History may judge Pairin more kindly

 | August 1, 2016

The jury may still be out on the Huguan Siou, and if anything, it may be the people being torn between love and empathy.



Huguan Siou Joseph Pairin Kitingan is an enigma of a man. He’s reputedly the best political chess player in Sabah. At the same time, he’s a leader who reportedly doesn’t like to make mistakes, a contradiction in terms.

Pairin’s solution, according to insiders: just don’t take decisions. Let nature take its course and the situation would resolve itself. There’s a “method in madness” element in this: que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera, what will be, will be . . .

Yet, the “take no decisions” man has taken some major decisions in his life, ending in unmitigated disasters. The disasters appear to support his primordial belief that the best way to avoid mistakes was not to take decisions.

However, not taking decisions in itself is a decision. In any case, let’s not go there. It’s not the done thing to kick a man when he’s down. The historians would no doubt wrestle on Pairin the man. The jury may still be out on him. It’s certainly not a love-hate phenomenon at play. If anything, it may be the people being torn between love and empathy.

Pairin did not go out on Friday with a bang, as he came in some 32 years ago on 29 December 1984 in Tambunan, but with a whimper. It will be a long goodbye. Except for handing over the party leadership to nephew and Deputy President Maximus Jonity Ongkili, he will serve out his term as Keningau MP, Tambunan Assemblyman, and Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.

Many will remember Pairin more for the bouquets that he received.

One will suffice to set the recent record straight.

It’s an open secret that his public warnings, during two consecutive PBS Annual General Assemblies, eventually forced the Federal Government on 11 August 2012 to set up the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah.

There’s little doubt that had the Federal Government failed to set up the RCI, Pairin would have quit as PBS President before GE13 in 2013.

Now, he’s quitting as the party chief, having run into a deadend as Chairman of the Technical Committee on the RCI Report. He was supposed to have publicly released, last year, the Committee’s report. It has now been delayed, probably until it can report some real progress. The talk is that the Committee wants the Sabah IC implemented to weed out the dubious MyKad phenomenon in the homeland. It may have been stymied here by the powers that be. Pairin, hence, may have had no choice but to vacate the party leadership.

If Ongkili is to at least maintain the seven state and four parliamentary seats that PBS won in 2013 under Pairin, his Huguan Siou needs to report substantial progress on the RCI Report by GE14 in 2018.

Otherwise, PBS will be at a crossroads as in 1990 when it pulled out from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) on the eve of a General Election. In any case, no one seriously expects PBS to quit the ruling coalition once again, not even over the RCI Report.

PBS has no doubt placed greater priority on the RCI Report, under Pairin, than the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). However, it would have to eventually get there (MA63) as well or risk Pairin’s place in history.


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