8 Parti Cinta Sabah supreme council members quit

Paul Voon (centre) says he and the others who quit are disappointed over PCS’s choice of allies.

KOTA KINABALU: Eight supreme council members of Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) quit the party today, citing ideological differences and concerns over the party’s choice of allies for the coming election.

The exodus, led by PCS deputy president Paul Voon, also included two other PCS deputy presidents Nicholas James Guntobon and Richard Gunting.

Others are the party’s vice-president and Youth chief Hasmin Azroy Abdullah, information chief Ramdi Indang and supreme council members Melvin Jaikul, Lai Yun Thiam and Pinus Gondili.

Speaking at a press conference, Voon said they had submitted their resignation letters to the party and cancelled their membership with immediate effect.

“The party declared a covenant between itself and the people of Sabah, particularly the ‘firstborn’, in July last year.

“This means, the party should have an ‘inclusive’ identity based on the concept of the firstborn and family.”

He explained that the term “firstborn” referred to the indigenous people of Sabah while “family” referred to Sabahans with legitimate rights of citizenship.

The “firstborn”, Voon said, should be neutral and secular and therefore more inclusive as the party had always believed it would be the unifying factor for Sabahans.

He pointed out that in order to achieve self-determination, the firstborn and the family should be institutionalised as the “people of Sabah”.

On the other hand, he said minorities would have certain “minority rights” but not the right of self-determination as the “people of Sabah” would have.

“The party’s supreme council has agreed to this identity and direction.

“Unfortunately, recent moves, such as forming a pact with race-based Parti Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN), showed that PCS is moving towards ‘minority rights’.

“This decision does not reflect what we have worked hard for in PCS.

“We wanted the party to be more than just a Kadazandusun Murut and Rungus (KDMR) party. It should be an indigenous party,” he said.

Otherwise, Voon said, the party would just be another player in the current government’s tactic of divide-and-rule, where the people of Sabah were separated based on their respective racial groups.

He also voiced his frustration over the party’s reluctance to work with other mainstream opposition political parties, saying that this had effectively rendered the party irrelevant.

“If anything, PCS will be seen as a spoiler and will be splitting the votes. We want nothing to do with that.

“We want to work with the political parties that have the potential to change the current government.”

Voon did not say what the group’s next move would be and whether they would remain as independents or join other political parties.

It is understood, however, that some of those who left PCS are seriously considering joining Parti Warisan Sabah.

PCS president Wilfred Bumburing had, in recent weeks, accused Warisan of trying to monopolise state seats in the coming election, leaving PCS with marginal seats which were difficult to win.

The party’s vice-president Kalakau Untol even implied that a certain party was trying to entice PCS leaders into joining them by offering them money.

Meanwhile, PCS confirmed it had received the resignation letters from the eight and a few others but did not reveal who the others were.

“Bumburing will explain the matter tomorrow at the PCS-PAN rally in Tenghilan,” said the party in a statement.

PCS was one of the founding parties of the local opposition coalition, Gabungan Sabah, but left the alliance in 2017 after a falling-out with Star president Jeffrey Kitingan.

Bumburing had said that he left Gabungan in favour of a grand alliance which would see all opposition political parties under one umbrella, including national-based parties such as PKR and DAP, and not just Sabah local opposition parties.