KOTA KINABALU: A shadow political fight is brewing between two Kadazandusun-based parties in the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Sabah STAR appear to be engaging in political one-upmanship as they try to gain a stronger foothold in the Kadazandusun and Murut areas.
The cold war is believed to have started when Sabah STAR, led by Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who is also one of the state’s three deputy chief ministers, took in PBS strongman Stephen Teo and made him a Sabah STAR division chief for the Sepanggar parliamentary constituency.
Though PBS did not directly respond to the pinching of its member, PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and senior members have gone across the state to strengthen the party at the divisional level.
For many observers, a clear sign of PBS’ displeasure was when Ongkili said that Tambunan was the birthplace of PBS and the party would reorganise the three divisions – Tambunan, Bingkor and Liawan – under the Keningau parliamentary constituency.
For many, it was a signal to Jeffrey, who is Tambunan assemblyman and Keningau MP, that PBS could be gunning for the two seats which were held by former PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, his elder brother.
Sabah STAR’s coordinating secretary for Kota Marudu division, Jovilis Majami, in an apparent tit for tat, said they would wish to contest the Kota Marudu parliamentary seat and Tandek state seat if PBS wanted to stand in Tambunan.
Ongkili is the current Kota Marudu MP and the Tandek state seat is held by his party’s Hendrus Anding.
Asked about the developing tensions between PBS and Sabah STAR, Jeffrey told reporters yesterday that it was normal to have different opinions and priorities among parties in politics.
“But we are in the same federal and state governments, so we need to focus on how to work together and increase our synergy instead of issuing statements on how to divide us.
“This is my personal view, ” he said.
Jeffrey did not comment on the Kota Marudu issue.