KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s maverick politician Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan is set to unveil his latest political venture when he launches the Sabah chapter of the Sarawak-based State Reform Party (STAR) today.
The 65-year-old Dr Jeffrey will head Sabah STAR after flitting in and out of at least six political parties in less than two decades.
Dr Jeffrey, whose move to join STAR ahead of the general election comes after his failure to register his pro-tem United Borneo Front, is describing the move as a historic and ground-breaking milestone for the political landscape of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia.
He believes the time is right for the political groups of Sabah and Sarawak to unite and safeguard their rights under Malaysia.
“There is no better time to be assertive and persistent than now when the political situation in the country is in favour of Sabah and Sarawak as kingmakers.
“Sabah and Sarawak leaders should therefore unite and leverage their positions to resolve outstanding issues with the Federal Government, including the restoration of the states’ lost rights and autonomy,” he said here yesterday.
Dr Jeffrey, who is politically estranged from his elder brother, PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, will launch Sabah STAR with STAR president Dr Dripin Sakoi at the Kadazandusun Cultu-ral Hall in Penampang near here.
In 1994, Dr Jeffrey, whose departure from PBS in that year’s state election eventually led to the fall of Pairin’s PBS government, joined the then newly-formed Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).
However, he left within 24 hours after a tiff with Tan Sri Joseph Kurup over who should be president.
Dr Jeffrey joined the now defunct Parti Akar but left a few years later after a leadership tussle with Tan Sri Pandikar Amin to return to PBS, which he deserted again to rejoin PBRS in 2000.
After a failed attempt to unseat Kurup a few years later, he quit.
Dr Jeffrey then unsuccessfully contested as an independent in the 2004 general election.
He was said to have applied to join Parti Upko, headed by Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, but withdrew his request.
He also applied to become an Umno member but the application was withdrawn after the party realised that it had accidentally approved his membership.
He then went on to join PKR and was made vice-president. However, with the position of Sabah PKR chief remaining elusive to Dr Jeffrey, he quit in early 2009 after a long-drawn fight with the party’s central leadership.
Subsequently, he started the United Borneo Front, which was supposed to be an alliance of Sabah and Sarawak-based parties.