KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s longest serving elected representative, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, has decided to defend his Tambunan state seat for a final term.
The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president, who has been a lawmaker since 1976, said he had some unfinished business.
However, the 78-year-old Pairin will not defend his Keningau parliamentary seat, which will instead be contested by his brother-in-law and PBS vice-president Datuk Daniel Kinsik.
“There are many reasons, apart from sentimental reasons, there is still the question of responsibility and unfinished business.
“So, at the request of the people in my division, I have to continue one part of my responsibility and that is for Tambunan.
“I will continue to serve the people and this is definitely my last service for the people as a representative,” he said.
Pairin, who first won the Tambunan seat in 1976 under the now defunct Parti Berjaya that toppled the Usno state government the same year, became known as the Lion of Tambunan when he led a fledgling PBS to topple the powerful Berjaya state government in the 1985 state elections.
Pairin’s popularity grew on the back of the party state rights campaign that eventually led to the party pulling out of Barisan midway through the 1990 general election.
PBS managed to win the 1994 elections but a spate of defections to Sabah Barisan left the party in opposition.
PBS eventually returned to Barisan in 2002.
Pairin, who is Deputy Chief Minister in the Cabinet of Tan Sri Musa Aman, had publicly said he wanted to retire but had been asked by Barisan and his party to stay on to ensure victory for the coalition in Sabah’s interior.
His party deputy Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, 64, will defend the Kota Marudu seat for the sixth term since 1995. The party is fielding six new faces in five parliamentary and 13 state seats.