Hamzah ‘surprised’ STAR accepting independents from PBS as members

STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan pinning a party badge on Anita Baranting in Kota Marudu yesterday (STAR pic).

KOTA KINABALU: Perikatan Nasional (PN) secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin is “surprised” that two independent candidates standing in seats contested by PBS have joined STAR.

Hamzah said he was not aware of such developments when asked about Kenny Chua and Anita Baranting, who are standing as independents in the Inanam and Tandek seats, respectively, against candidates from PBS.

“What? It’s a surprise to me, I haven’t heard anything,” he told reporters after a Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) ceramah last night.

On Tuesday, Hamzah had managed to convince PBS to drop out from contesting the Bingkor and Tambunan seats while STAR, in return, would “withdraw” two independent candidates linked to the party in Bengkoka and Api-Api and campaign for PBS instead.

The candidates will still technically be standing in their respective seats but have agreed to campaign for the other party instead following the consensus brokered by Hamzah.

But just hours after PBS and STAR signed the deal, STAR handed Chua his party membership card, and Baranting submitted her membership form to STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan at a ceremony in Kota Marudu yesterday

Although Chua and Baranting remain as independents on the ballot papers, their association with STAR means the party will, without taking into account the other contesting parties, go head-to-head with PBS in six seats.

In total, the three GRS partners – PN , Barisan Nasional and PBS – are clashing in 17 seats.

PBS secretary-general Jahid Jahim, who was also at the GRS ceramah, declined to comment on the independents joining STAR, saying it was a “new development”.

Jahid, who is defending his Tamparuli seat, said he needed time to check what was going on.

He said PBS will still honour the agreement struck earlier for the party to pull out from the race in the Bingkor and Tambunan seats.

Jahid had earlier shared the stage with Jeffrey in delivering speeches in the ceramah, billed as GRS’s biggest rally so far in this election campaign. Also present were Prime Minister and PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.

Click here for the latest on the Sabah polls