Joseph Kurup losing support in PBRS, says source

PBRS president Joseph Kurup.

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) Supreme Council members are divided on the proposal by the party president to join Pakatan Harapan (PH), according to a source close to the party.

The source told FMT although PBRS president Joseph Kurup had now stated that the party would rejoin Barisan Nasional (BN) after leaving the coalition on May 12, the decision had never been unanimous among the party leadership.

“For instance, Sook assemblyman Ellron Angin and Pensiangan MP Arthur Kurup are not onboard with the proposal as both are more comfortable with Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS),” the source said.

Despite Joseph being the party’s founder, the source said the veteran politician, who did not contest in the May 9 general election, was slowly losing his influence within the party.

Besides, the source said, many of the PBRS Supreme Council members were upset after Joseph brought his son, Arthur, who is PBRS deputy president, to meet Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad after PH won the election.

The Supreme Council members felt Joseph should have consulted them first instead of making that decision himself.

“Mahathir initially agreed to accept PBRS into PH but the decision was opposed by PKR leaders, including PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli and Sabah PKR chief Christina Liew.

“That is why now Joseph has no choice but to go back to BN.

“But in Sabah, PBRS will be the only local party in the coalition because the rest will be in GBS,” the source said.

Last month, Sabah Umno chief Hajiji Noor endorsed the establishment of opposition bloc GBS, which is set to see the end of BN in the state.

GBS was to consist of Sabah Umno, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), although other local opposition parties were also invited to join.

While PBRS has not stated whether it will join GBS, both Angin and Arthur have been seen at functions organised by STAR and PBS since the election.

There has been talk that many Sabah Umno leaders are keen to form their own local party and that Umno will leave Sabah for good because the current trend in both Sabah and Sarawak is that the people are in favour of local-based parties.

However, the majority of Sabah Umno members are still loyal to the party, blaming certain leaders in Sabah Umno for the plan to form a local party.