KOTA KINABALU: Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan will move from his Bingkor state seat to stand in Tambunan, currently held by his older brother and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Joseph Pairin Kitingan, as the two parties square up to go head-to-head for the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) vote.
In announcing his party’s candidate line-up today, Jeffrey also said he would contest again for the Keningau parliamentary seat, which is also held by Pairin who defeated his brother there twice in 2008 and 2013.
Altogether, Jeffrey said STAR would contest five parliamentary and 17 state seats in the coming election.
Besides Tambunan, STAR will defend Jeffrey’s Bingkor seat and field candidates for Liawan, Sook, Matunggong, Tandek, Tempasuk, Kadamaian, Kiulu, Tamparuli, Paginatan, Kuamut, Kiulu, Kundasang, Moyog, Kapayan and Melalap.
In addition to Keningau, the other federal constituencies it will contest are Ranau, Pensiangan, Penampang and Papar.
Most of the seats STAR will contest in are KDM majority seats and allocated to PBS by Barisan Nasional (BN).
STAR is one of four parties that make up the local opposition coalition Gabungan Sabah. The other components are Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (PHRS) and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS).
Both SAPP and PHRS will announce their candidates later today.
In his speech, Jeffrey acknowledged it was not easy for the party to agree on the seats and the candidate list as it had to get the consent of the other parties in Gabungan.
“It took us a long time to discuss. We didn’t get all that we wanted but we are happy with the outcome.
“We are glad we managed to compromise. Be supportive of one another, because in the end we are all in one team,” he said.
Jeffrey also said it was never the intention of the party to pursue the idea that the seats be distributed equally between the four parties.
Instead, he said, he had negotiated on the basis of suitability and the party’s confidence of support in the particular seats.
It would be unfair to take all the easy seats and leave only the harder ones to the others, he said.
“It doesn’t mean our seats are easy and we can rest on our laurels. No seats are easy. We want to win, that’s why we are flexible,” he said.
The STAR slate will feature four candidates who are members of SAPP.
They will be fielded in Kundasang, Kapayan, Melalap and Moyog.
Jeffrey said this was because Gabungan is not allowed to use a common symbol. In these areas, the STAR symbol is also more well-known and better supported compared to that of other parties.
Jeffrey warned candidates to be wary of dirty tactics used by other parties against Gabungan.
“It has started now, hasn’t it? You all know about the bankruptcy notice issued against me and which has been made viral here and there. I am sure it will become an issue. But worry not because I will still be eligible to stand,” he said.
He congratulated all those selected as candidates and urged those who were not selected to continue their struggle with the party.
A prominent feature of the STAR list of candidates is the absence of women although there are three young candidates including its Youth chief Terence Sinti, who will stand in Kiulu.
Jeffrey’s Bingkor seat will be defended by Bingkor STAR chief Robert Tawi while local artist Baritus Gungkit @ Everitus will contest in Sook, the cultural heart of the Muruts.
Former STAR Youth chief Feddrin Tuliang will once again contest in Paginatan while SAPP’s Japiril Suhaimin is set for another go in Kundasang.
STAR will field a Chinese candidate in Liawan, an Umno seat within the Keningau federal constituency, which will make Kong Fui Seng the first Chinese to contest the seat.
Jeffrey said it was more important for the party to focus on candidates’ ability to perform than anything else.
“Liawan is a mixed seat, partly Chinese, partly KDM. We are confident of the people’s support. We have met several groups on the ground and we think our candidate will do well,” he said.
The other candidates for state seats are Marunsai Dawson (Matunggong), Joel Masilung (Tandek), Suwah Bulleh (Tempasuk), Samin @ Jasmin Dulin (Tamparuli), James Ait (Kuamut), Rainus Awang (Labuk), Danim @ Aloysius Siap (Moyog), Chong Pit Fah (Kapayan) and Jaineh Juata @ Jimmy Jawara (Melalap).
For the federal seats, the candidates other than Jeffrey in Keningau, are Soudi @ Sami Andang (Ranau), Kustin Ladi (Pensiangan), Cleftus Stephen Spine (Penampang) and Jamil William Core (Papar).
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