KDM reunification not anytime soon, says Upko leader

 

KDM unity remains elusive due to political differences, says Upko’s Albert Bingkasan.

KOTA KINABALU: Deeply differing political ideologies among Kadazandusun Murut parties in Sabah will hamper any reunification in the near future, says a United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) leader.

Upko information chief Albert Bingkasan said a recent call for a merger of his party, Parti Bersatu Sabah and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah was not new.

“Everybody is saying we should be united but the fact is that we are so established in our own little cubicles that at the moment it is almost impossible,” he said.

However, a joint presidential council for the three parties, formed this week, was a leap forward.

He said unity remained elusive because of differences in political backgrounds and upbringing, personal egos and deeply differing political ideologies.

“But the good thing is that we are all part of Barisan Nasional and that is the closest we can be united for now,” he told FMT.

“I am optimistic we will be there some day, hopefully sooner than later,” he added.

Upko, previously known as Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS), and PBRS have both grown in stature and support base since they were founded by former PBS leaders in 1994.

PBS deputy president Maximus Ongkili had recently said the formation of the presidential council could one day lead to the KDM parties’ reunification under one symbol.

Bingkasan said the three parties had previously cooperated in organising the “Tataba operation” to provide assistance to churches in Sabah, and hold other activities to benefit and unite the community.

“However that was more of an action-oriented initiative but this (reunification under one symbol) is more ideological, which is more difficult,” he said.

He said any unification must be built on the solid foundation of the community’s origins.

“The basic ingredient for a nation or a bangsa (race) is that the people must first appreciate who they are and their roots as it is God-given,” he said.

Upko and PBRS were formed as splinters of PBS following the 1994 state election where PBS narrowly won but still failed to form the state government.

This was due to a series of defections from PBS to BN. Some of the leaders included Joseph Kurup who formed PBRS and Bernard Dompok who founded PDS which was later renamed Upko.

Support among the KDM community has since been split among the three parties, but some political observers contend that they could form a powerful bloc if they were all under one special entity.

PBS, Upko and PBRS members will contest in 20 state and 10 federal seats in the general election on May 9.

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