KOTA KINABALU: A move to accept leaders from politically-friendly parties should not be construed as "pinching" members, says Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
The Deputy Chief Minister said Sabah STAR could not stop members from "friendly" parties from joining as they were coming in on their own free will.
"Sabah STAR should not be seen as stealing members from politically-friendly parties. At the same time, we cannot stop anybody from joining us," he said when receiving members from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), a member of the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) state government.
Three senior PBS members from the Sepanggar division, led by its former supreme council member Kapitan Stephen Teo, crossed over to Sabah STAR.
With Teo were former PBS Karambunai vice-chairman Charles Arab, who is the district native chief, as well as former committee member John Kaltus Jintuil.
Teo said they made a decision on their own as they believe in Sabah STAR's political ideology under Jeffrey.
Teo, who handed over their application forms to Jeffrey on Thursday (April 2), said their decision was to assist PBS members who they alleged were not taken care of by the party.
Jeffrey appointed Teo as Sabah STAR's protem Karambunai division chief and urged them to ensure that members were not left out in the various government assistance programmes.
Reacting to the crossovers, PBS vice-president Datuk Johnny Mositun said Teo was free to make his own decisions.
"We practise democracy, we wish him good, we (PBS) are hoping for quality support, while we let other people choose support for quantity," he said.
Sabah STAR, a member of the four-party Sabah Perikatan Nasional, is part of the GRS coalition.
PBS and Sabah Barisan Nasional are also partners in the coalition that toppled the Warisan Plus-led state government in last year's snap state election.