KOTA KINABALU, Oct 28 — Despite a rocky relationship, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Sabah STAR) President Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan has asked Barisan Nasional’s Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah to give up contesting the Pensiangan seat in the 15th general election (GE15) in what he said would be a gesture of goodwill.
Kitingan, who is also Sabah deputy chief minister, said that the time had come for Sabah leaders to unite under their own brand of politics and that the gesture would demonstrate to the grassroots that the two coalitions could live with their differences.
“The Pensiangan parliamentary seat should be considered as given to Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in accordance with the wishes of the grassroots for a ‘friendly contest’ as PBRS is not part of the Sabah government,” he said in Pensiangan here today while launching the party election machinery.
Later, at a function in the state capital when asked to elaborate on his stance, Kitingan said it could extend into a swap instead.
“Yes, we asked for it, but whether we get it or not that is the question. So we are just asking for their consideration. It might end up as a seat swap between BN and GRS,” he said.
Kitingan declined to mention how many seats Sabah STAR was getting out of the 25, saying that there was still room for changes.
“It is an open invitation, so we will see how they respond,” he said.
He said that the intention this time was to reduce the possibility of clashes “as much as possible”.
“Remember last time, we had an agreement, but nothing happened. They all ended up clashing. So this time we want to minimise that as much as possible,” he said.
Recently, PBRS had challenged the precarious synergy between the GRS-BN alliance by supporting BN chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s statement that BN is to enter GE15 on its own.
PBRS wanted Sabah to follow suit, despite GRS and BN leaders’ reassurance that they will come up with an amicable seat-sharing formula that all nine parties in the alliance could agree to.
However, the situation remains unresolved, with a week left to Nomination Day on November 5.
Political talk suggests that negotiations have hit a snag as several seats are tussled over.
GRS currently comprises Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) Sabah chapter, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and United Sabah National Alliance (Usno) while Sabah BN comprises Umno, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), MCA and MIC.