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Published: Tuesday April 30, 2013 MYT 6:08:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 30, 2013 MYT 6:09:41 PM

GE13: Kitingan brothers put all on the line for final showdown in Keningau

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's Kadazandusun paramount leader or Huguan Siou Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan is asking for one last opportunity to serve as the MP for Keningau.

His younger brother Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan, who is trying to wrest the parliamentary seat for the second time, is asking voters there to say no.

Pairin, 72, rose to prominence in 1984 when he stood in defiance against the then-powerful Parti Berjaya chief minister Datuk Harris Salleh whose state government was eventually topped by Pairin's Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

In active politics since 1975, the trained lawyer is one of the country's longest-serving MPs as well as assemblyman for the Tambunan state seat which he is also defending.

Jeffery, 66, the State Reform Party (STAR) Sabah chapter chief, took on Pairin for the Keningau seat in 2008 but lost with a 4,624 vote majority in a three-cornered contest.

The siblings from one of Sabah's most renowned political families are once again involved in a three-cornered fight along with PKR's Stephen Sandor for Keningau, where some 64% of the 43,691 voters are non-Muslim bumiputera.

With just days to go before they head to the polls, Keningau voters remain uncertain how this tussle will pan out.

Keningau businessman Rosli Mohd Yakin said Pairin had been performing well as the area's MP.

"He has done much for Keningau in terms of ensuring better infrastructure such as roads and water supply. I feel confident with him as my wakil rakyat (representative)," said Rosli.

However, housewife Mary Perimus felt that Keningau needed a stronger voice in parliament.

"I want a leader who is more vocal. Jeffery lost in 2008. Maybe he can do better this time," she added.

On his campaign trail, Pairin said Barisan remained the best choice for Sabah with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak the right person for the Prime Minister's job.

Najib told Keningau folk that he had tremendous respect for Pairin as was confident they felt the same for their Huguan Siou.

For Jeffery, his campaign trail took him to remote farming communities such as Kampung Kuangoh, about 30km from Keningau town where he told the mainly Kadazandusun audience they were not obliged to back his brother just because of his Huguan Siou status.

He pointed out that they should judge Pairin on his performance as MP instead.

Jeffrey told the largely middle-aged audience at a late night ceramah that Pairin is part of a ruling coalition that has gone awry.

To back up his claim, Dr Jefferey pointed out the occurrence of yet another black out in the village and accused Barisan of short-changing Sabahans.

But Dr Jeffery is also aware Kuangoh is also one of the voting streams where he lost to his elder brother five years ago.

Whether his fortunes in Keningau will change this time around will be known on May 5.

For more election stories, please visit The Star's GE13 site

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