KOTA KINABALU: PBS is still bitter with its former BN partner Upko’s decision to link up with BN’s rivals and says the latter’s claim that the majority of Sabahans wanted a change was a “lame excuse”.
PBS secretary-general Johnny Mositun said Upko’s reason for teaming up with Parti Warisan Sabah, DAP and PKR was merely an afterthought.
“Such reasoning is valid only before an election, not after. Up to the last minute, Upko acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau was going around condemning Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan.
“He praised (former premier) Najib Razak for doing more for Sabah than any other prime minister, he defended the goods and services tax (GST) and his men on the ground were even hurling racial slurs against Warisan and party president Shafie Apdal.
“And all these were conveniently forgotten two days after the election?” he said after a meeting of the PBS Liawan division in Keningau today.
Mositun said the people should recall the confusion about the Upko assemblymen who had at first backed Musa Aman as the chief minister with support from Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) president Jeffrey Kitingan.
“They were all there all night till the next day, ready to go to the Istana Negeri. It was much later that their (Upko) acting president came up with another tale of his YBs (assemblymen) being prevented from leaving Seri Gaya (the chief minister’s official residence).”
Mositun said up to the time when Parliament was dissolved, Upko was part of the discussions among the BN’s Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) parties that decided to support each other in the 14th general election (GE14).
“Ask Upko’s Ewon Benedict, who won in Kadamaian (state seat). PBS made way for him, gave him their support based on an agreement among the presidents of the KDM parties.
“This is another instance of Upko betraying the trust and support PBS gave them,” Mositun said.
As such, he said it was not correct to equate Upko’s departure from BN to PBS doing the same.
“Yes, PBS has left the BN, just as Upko did. But the reasons for doing so are different. BN, for all practical purposes, is finished in Sabah.
“It is only Umno, or whatever is left of it, that remains, so PBS decided that for now we will revert to being an independent party on our own and pursue the goals on which the party was founded in 1985,” he said.
On the contrary, Mositun said Upko betrayed not just the BN but also the voters who supported it in GE14 by teaming up with Warisan, DAP and PKR to form the state government.
“It was pure political opportunism for self-preservation despite claims to the contrary.”
He said this was the reason PBS deputy president Maximus Ongkili described Upko as a party with a history of betraying its friends and allies.
Upko leaders had accused PBS of having done the same when it had once left BN to join Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Gagasan Rakyat and again, now after GE14.
“What would Nelson Anggang (Upko legal affairs bureau head) know about the political turmoil of those years, the might of the federal government then, the pressures and persecutions that (PBS president) Joseph Pairin Kitingan and PBS faced?
“(Also) the suffering and injustices on our state and people in that dark period of Sabah’s history? And he wants to judge PBS, just like Upko secretary-general Donald Mojuntin who should know better,” Mositun said.
He noted PBS left BN for Gagasan Rakyat in 1990 for a good reason.
“BN was unfair in the distribution of seats to contest. Seats that PBS could easily win were allotted to others. Obviously Umno was out to weaken PBS, even unseat the PBS government.
“Ask the former PBS leaders who are now in other parties, including Upko, and they will tell you.”.
Mositun said PBS would not close its doors to those from other parties who wanted to become party members nor would it reject cooperation with other parties like STAR.
“But that’s as far as it goes. We’ll accept cooperation, but on our own terms,” he said.