PETALING JAYA: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) have mutually agreed to start formal negotiations focused on building understanding and cooperation, the parties said in a statement released today.
PBS secretary-general Julita Majungki and STAR secretary-general Edward Linggu said discussions between the parties will focus on three main principles: addressing grassroots demands for robust cooperation to unite Sabah’s diverse population, following up on a pre-2020 election proposal, and enhancing support to strengthen the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah coalition.
Party leaders met last night to discuss the move, the Borneo Post reported. PBS was represented by Majungki, information chief Joniston Bangkuai, women’s chief Malianah Ugau, and youth chief Christoper Mandut.
Linggu led the STAR team, alongside vice-president and strategic director Paul Porodong, information chief Jalumin Bayogoh, women’s movement chief Flovia Ng, and youth chief Kong Soon Chai.
Leaders said the initial official meeting is scheduled to happen in due course.
On July 1, STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan revived the idea of a merger with PBS, saying it was one way to strengthen the two Kadazandusun Murut-based parties. Kitingan said that the idea of a merger had been floated since the 2020 state elections.
PBS was founded by Jeffrey’s elder brother Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who led the party into power from 1985 to 1994. However, after the 1994 state elections, he failed to regain power when almost all PBS assemblymen defected to Barisan Nasional.
Jeffrey was among those who defected. He was later in and out of several parties before forming STAR in 2016. The party won two seats at the state elections in 2018, and helped to keep BN in power. In the 2020 state elections, the party won six seats, and he became a deputy chief minister.