Jeffrey confirms talks on Sabah-based coalition

KOTA KINABALU: Jeffrey Kitingan of Parti Solidariti Tanahairku (STAR) has confirmed that plans are being made for Barisan Nasional supporters and allies to form a local coalition “independent of control from Kuala Lumpur”.

He said today he was not joining” Barisan Nasional or its rival Parti Warisan Sabah. The two parties were deadlocked at 29 seats each in the 60-member assembly.

However, Kitingan and another assemblyman from STAR had pledged their support for Sabah BN chairman Musa Aman, giving BN control of 31 seats, for a two-seat majority.

Musa is expected to be sworn-in for another term as chief minister later tonight. Kitingan was reported to have been offered the deputy chief ministership.

Kitingan said all the newly-elected BN state assemblymen and their allies would form a coalition of local (Sabah) parties.

He said Umno assemblymen would be leaving the coalition and because BN was no longer in power at the federal government there was every likelihood that Umno might be declared an illegal entity.

“Sabah will then be totally independent of any control from Kuala Lumpur,” he said. “From now on, we are free to plan the future of Sabah in accordance to our own aspirations, culture and spirit.”

FMT earlier today reported that Sabah assemblymen allied to BN are discussing plans to come out from under Umno’s shadow and gather under a Sabah-based party or join Parti Bersatu Sabah.

Ewon Benedick, newly-elected Kadamaian assemblyman, revealed these plans to reporters today.

He is one of five assemblymen from Upko, the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation, who have agreed to throw their support to Barisan Nasional in forming a new state government.

Benedick said all the 31 assemblymen who support BN had thought the idea to be “interesting”, for them to become members of a local based party, either a new one or PBS, which draws its support from the Kadazandusun community.