Ongkili moves to unite PBS members after bruising polls

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (pic) has moved to soothe ruffled feathers after a particularly divisive race for his party’s deputy presidency.

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

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

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

Majungki, who is state Assistant Community Development and People’s Well-being Minister, will become the first female leader in the party’s history to helm the position.

Speaking after the results were announced yesterday, Ongkili said the race for the deputy presidency between Dr Gunsalam and Bangkuai was extremely close, with the former winning by only five votes (339 votes to Bangkuai’s 334).

“Bangkuai can still play a role in our party; thus I have made the decision to appoint him our information chief,” he said to loud cheers from party members.

Ongkili added that Bangkuai’s experience in the role was vital, 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 Majungki, he said he was confident the Matunggong assemblyman would be able to shoulder the heavy responsibility.

“We are doing something we have never done before, which is to appoint a secretary-general from the Wanita wing,” Ongkili said, adding that Majungki had sufficient experience serving as his political secretary in Kuala Lumpur and also has a Master’s degree in management.

He 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 at the supreme council meeting in two weeks,” he added.

In the party polls, Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai also retained the deputy presidency for the Chinese quota after collecting 481 votes against former Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah, who got 222 votes.

Ongkili and Datuk Jahid Jahim were earlier returned uncontested as the president, while the latter stood as deputy president for the Muslim bumiputra quota.

Five vice-presidents and 15 supreme council members, some of whom are new faces, were also voted in by over 700 delegates at the PBS polls on Thursday.

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