Ongkili moves to unite members after divisive PBS party polls

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (pic) has moved quickly to close ranks among his members after a divisive party polls, particularly over the race for the deputy presidency.

Following Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam’s victory over the deputy president’s post for the non-Muslim bumiputra quota, Ongkili immediately announced that losing challenger Datuk Joniston Bangkuai will assume the role of the PBS information chief.

Bangkuai, who is the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, is actually returning to the role which he had previously served before he was named the PBS secretary-general during a minor party reshuffle in January last year.

He takes over the role from Datuk Julita Majungki who in turn will replace him as the secretary-general.

Julita, who is the State Community Development and People’s Wellbeing Assistant Minister, will become the first woman leader to helm the powerful position in PBS’ history.

Speaking after party election results were announced early Friday (July 1), Ongkili said the race for the deputy presidency between Dr Joachim and Bangkuai was extremely close, with the former winning by only five votes.

Dr Joachim had amassed 339 votes to Bangkuai's 334 votes.

“I congratulate Joachim (for his win). And to Bangkuai, he can still play a role in our party, thus, I have made the decision to appoint him as our information chief,” he said, to loud cheers from party members.

He explained that Bangkuai’s experience in the role was vital, moreover with the general election just around the corner.

“Matters involving the media, internet war and communications about the party and our struggles are all part of his expertise,” said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs).

As for Julita, Ongkili said he was confident the Matunggong assemblyman will be able to shoulder the heavy responsibility of being the PBS secretary-general.

“We are doing something we have never done before which is to appoint a secretary-general from the Wanita wing,” he said.

He added that Julita had sufficient experience serving as his political secretary in Kuala Lumpur as well as having a Masters degree in management.

Meanwhile, Ongkili also announced that Lu Kim Yen will be retained as the party’s treasurer-general.

“All these appointments will enable us to continue working and functioning properly.

“We will make other appointments after I receive suggestions and feedback during the Supreme Council meeting in two weeks’ time,” he added.

On the other results, Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai has also retained the deputy presidency for the Chinese quota after collecting 481 votes against former Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah who obtained 222 votes.

Ongkili and Datuk Jahid Jahim were earlier returned as the president and deputy president for the Muslim bumiputra quota respectively uncontested.

Besides that, five vice presidents and 15 Supreme Council members, some of whom included new faces, were also voted in by over 700 delegates present at the PBS polls which was held on June 30.

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