KOTA KINABALU: Support for the first non-Muslim native governor is gaining more traction with incoming Upko president Datuk Ewon Benedick supporting Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan as a potential candidate.
"Kitingan has the credibility and experience to be appointed as Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah," he said in a statement Thursday (Sept 29).
He said that Kitingan had formed and led a multiracial Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in 1984 before his retirement in 2018, and as such, he would be able to reflect Sabah's multi-ethnic and multi-religious people.
"The position of TYT is the symbol of unity for multi-racial and multi-religious people of Sabah," said Ewon, who is taking over as president of Upko during the Oct 15-16 Upko congress with its incumbent chief Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau deciding not to defend his position.
Ewon said this in support of the call of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) for the government to consider Kitingan as the next governor for the state when the four-year term of the current Governor Tun Juhar Mahiruddin expires on Dec 31, this year.
Ewon, who is Kadamaian assemblyman, said there was nothing in the state constitution to stop Kitingan from being appointed as governor.
"I fully support the state government to recommend to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint TYT Sabah," he added.
On Wednesday (Sept 28), KDCA secretary-general Suman Yasambun said the 82-year-old Kitingan, who is the Kadazandusun Huguan Siou (paramount leader), was best suited for the position of governor.
Incumbent TYT Juhar is on his third term since his appointment in 2011.
The state government under Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has not yet indicated if they would extend his term or replace him.
Several other names speculated for the governor position were former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and former Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.