KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has congratulated its two “rival” Kadazandusun-based Barisan Nasional components – Parti Upko and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) – on their agreement to merge.
PBS president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is paramount leader to the Kadazandusun, said the merger would strengthen the Barisan and help improve understanding among the people.
The two parties joined the Barisan when PBS was in the opposition.
The leaders of the two parties, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok of Upko and Tan Sri Joseph Kurup of PBRS, were once rivals within PBS and later in Barisan.
Pairin had proposed during the May Harvest Festival of the Kadazandusun community that there should be a united party for the indigenous group.
PBS, headed by Pairin and with Dompok and Kurup as deputy president and secretary-general, ruled Sabah for nine years until 1994 when it was toppled by the Umno-led Barisan.
On Sunday, the delegates of Upko and PBRS gave their supreme councils the mandate to work out the details of the merger.
The merger comes amid moves by Dompok and Kurup to consolidate their base with PBS’ return to the Barisan.
Under the proposed merger, the new party to be known as Parti Upko Bersatu, is expected to be led by Dompok, with Kurup as his deputy.
The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
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