KOTA KINABALU: Two political allies in Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) - Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Sabah STAR - are not holding back their punches amid a war of words between them.
PBS Youth chief Christopher Mandut told Sabah STAR's Jovilis Manjami to stop meddling in PBS' affairs in an ongoing tit-for-tat quarrel between the two allies in the ruling GRS-led state government.
In calling Jovilis a "rookie" politician, Mandut said he should mind his own business and leave PBS to handle its own matters.
"We do not need his opinion. PBS has always been in communication with the GRS leadership, so there is no need for him (Jovilis) to remind us of our strength," Mandut said.
Jovilis, who is Kota Marudu Sabah STAR coordinating secretary, said they were ready to contest in the PBS held Tandek and Kota Marudu seats after PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili hinted that they were ready to take back PBS' birth seats of Keningau and Tambunan.
Hitting back at Jovilis, who claimed that PBS' glory days had passed, Mandut said that he (Jovilis) must first study the history of PBS before coming to such a conclusion.
"PBS has been around for 36 years and is one of the oldest multi-racial parties in the country. Even after more than three decades, PBS is still relevant and people praise and honour the party for being consistent, loyal and firm. We are senior enough to handle our own matters.
"Our leaders are loyalists. Our president has been with the party since its inception, not like fickle-minded politicians who jump from one party to another for personal gains," he said, in apparent reference to Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan's past.
"Jovilis has no locus standi to mock our president. Better take care of your own home first," said Mandut, who is also political secretary to Ongkili, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs).
"Our president's (Ongkili) statement was a general comment, just like any other party under GRS. We are allowed to voice out our views. Eventually, it is the top leadership who would decide on the outcome.
"So I would like to consider Jovilis as voicing out his views on behalf of his party. It's normal because I am also doing the same to defend my party's honour.
"But if Jovilis is serious about Sabah STAR contesting in Kota Marudu, I promise that PBS will work hard and ensure victory is on our side," Mandut said, adding that Sabah STAR had interfered in Kota Marudu by supporting two independent candidates in the Tandek and Matunggong seats in the last state election, which were eventually won by PBS.
He said PBS would continue to work with its partners in GRS and find solutions to existing problems while continuing the good rapport among the parties at the state and federal levels.
"For now, what's important is to strengthen our ties within GRS. We need to work on our strengths and help each other in overcoming our weaknesses.
"That's how we can have a strong footing in Sabah. We need to fight our common enemy, not each other," he said.