KOTA KINABALU: Former members of Sabah Bersatu who left the party last December have officially joined Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah.
The move finally materialised after Chief Minister and ex-Sabah Bersatu chief Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor officially took over the helm of the local political outfit following an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Sunday (Feb 5).
Hajiji, who is also Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman, said that they now have a political platform that is 100% local to continue with their struggle for the people and the state.
"The two main characteristics of Gagasan Rakyat that attracted my colleagues and me is that it's a multi-racial party symbolising inclusivity and it represents the voice of Sabahans.
"These were also factors that convinced partners in GRS to accept Gagasan Rakyat as a component party.
"Moreover, they (GRS component parties) have long expressed their wish for GRS partners to be local parties. Now we are 100% local," he said.
The other parties in GRS are Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Sabah STAR, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and the United Sabah National Organisation (Usno).
Hajiji said he would explain Gagasan Rakyat's direction in detail at the party's forthcoming launch on March 2.
The Sulaman assemblyman said this in a statement after a closed-door Gagasan Rakyat EGM attended by more than 150 members at the Sabah International Convention Centre here on Sunday (Feb 5).
Elaborating on the takeover of Gagasan Rakyat, Hajiji said the party's agenda was also in line with the four pillars of GRS' struggle – Sabah First; Sabah Forward; Sabah Prosper; and Sabah United.
"Being a local party does not mean we reject the national agenda nor ignore national interests – Malaysia is our homeland.
"Nonetheless, the original goal of the formation of Malaysia was to bring progress to the people and Sabah," said Hajiji.
Sabah, he added, wanted a more valuable and meaningful implementation of the system based on the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
"We will work with any quarters that accept this and put Sabah's interests first.
"What is more important is to get the recognition and the implementation of the rights, powers and special position of Sabah as enshrined in the highest law of the country, which is the Federal Constitution and the law which gave birth to the Federation of Malaysia which is MA63. There is no Malaysia without the MA63," he noted.
Hajiji thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for being committed to fulfilling Putrajaya's responsibility to implement the MA63. He said although Anwar had yet to hold office for 100 days, significant progress could already be seen.
"We will continue to enhance cooperation with the Federal Government to build a progressive Sabah and Malaysia Madani," he said.
Hajiji also announced the Gagasan Rakyat supreme council line-up, with several more to be appointed later.
Among them were Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun who is now Gagasan Rakyat deputy president; vice-presidents Datuk Mohd Arifin Arif, Datuk Rubin Balang and Datuk Masiung Banah; Datuk Mohd Razali Razi was named as secretary-general as well as Stephan Jacob Jimbangan, Gagasan Rakyat's previous immediate president who is now deputy secretary-general.
Gagasan Rakyat will now establish the party's organisation structure in all 73 state constituencies including the formation of the women, youth and women's youth wings.
Respective annual general meetings for branches and divisions are scheduled for July and September respectively, which will then culminate in the annual congress in November.