KOTA KINABALU, Aug 19 ― Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) stalwart Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan hopes that the Tambunan state seat, currently held by his younger brother Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan, will be given back to the party to contest in the coming state election.
Jeffrey is president of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), which was previously at odds with his older brother’s party, but is currently on the same political side.
Pairin, who held the Tambunan state seat from 1976 until the last election in 2018, said PBS ought to be able to contest the seat which has been the party’s stronghold for decades.
“I would like PBS to win back the seat… but it is up to the leadership, I’m not the president. PBS started there and it has long been a PBS seat, even though my younger brother broke that streak, what to do,” he told a news conference here today.
Pairin, a former chief minister from 1985 to 1994, indicated that he does not plan to come out of retirement to run in the upcoming state election and said he is not aware of his brother’s plans either.
The Tambunan state seat is seen as a largely indigenous constituency due to its majority Kadazan Dusun and Murut population.
Pairin was its assemblyman since 1976, which he won on the then ruling Berjaya ticket. He left Berjaya in 1984 and contested the seat in the Tambunan by-election as an independent, which he won by a significant margin. He later formed PBS.
Pairin failed to defend Tambunan in Election 2018 against Jeffrey, who was his political rival at that time.
While still in different parties, the two Kitingan brothers are now on the same side with the Perikatan Nasional coalition, which is government federally but which was the Opposition when the state assembly was dissolved on July 30.
Pairin, who has been laying low since his retirement in 2018, said that he is pleased with PBS’ decision to contest the coming state polls using its own logo for the first time in 16 years.
“I like the idea of PBS using its own logo. I think a lot of people still love PBS. We will attract a lot of positive response from people using our own symbol, he said.
Pairin said that PBS was synonymous with Sabahans for being pro-Sabah throughout generations and well known for its consistent struggle.
“They have put their hopes and trust in us all this while because we have been here with them all this while,” he said.