KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said his decision to contest in Keningau should not be interpreted as him having a personal issue with his brother, incumbent member of parliament Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
The State Reform Party’s (STAR) Sabah Chapter chairman slammed the media for continuously trying to pit him against his brother, saying Pairin would always be his family despite their political differences.
“If I contest the seat, it is not because I am against my brother, but because I am against Barisan Nasional (BN),” he said when asked to comment on Pairin’s sharp criticism against him reported by local dailies yesterday.
Pairin, Deputy Chief Minister and president of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), was quoted as saying that Jeffrey had always been against him from the beginning and no longer had any consideration or love for him.
Responding to an earlier report that Jeffrey wanted to send him into retirement by contesting Keningau, Pairin also said that the younger brother had kept changing parties because he could not work with anyone.
Jeffrey, who was met after launching the STAR Sabah Youth Symposium here yesterday, refused to fan the flame of Jeffrey-Pairin saga any further, saying the media should not mix his family matters with politics.
“It’s just politics, nothing personal. You cannot change the fact that he is still my brother,” he said.
He, however, reiterated his call for Pairin to consider not defending his parliamentary seat but instead focus on his role as a State Minister, to enable him to serve his constituents more effectively.
Meanwhile, commenting on his party’s election preparation, he said STAR Sabah’s candidate list was almost 90 per cent completed, with a third of those already selected were from among the party’s youth movement.
As for seat allocation, he said the party was still in negotiation with fellow state-based opposition parties, including Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).
He also rejected reports that STAR Sarawak had declared allegiance to Barisan Nasional (BN) and was ready to assist the Coalition if needed.
The party’s youth leaders must strengthen their will to fight for an autonomous Sabah, Jeffrey said after officiating at the symposium earlier.
He said the future of the State and the country was in the hands of the younger generation, in particular the young voters, as they were the ones holding the power to change the status quo in Putra Jaya in the next election.
“It was the youth who brought the political tsunami in Semenanjung that washed away BN’s two-third majority in 2008. They are united, more motivated and have a clearer objective now, they can do it again, and do it better this time.
“The youths in Sabah too have joined the struggle, you have risen and this is what we all have been waiting for. It is time for change,” he said.
He stressed that STAR’s objective was to emerge as the “third power” in Putrajaya to balance the two existing dominant power groups, namely BN and Pakatan Rakyat, in Putrajaya.
He said the party would work with the two as equal partners, not to work for them as a docile subordinate, to ensure the rights of Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia are respected and safeguarded.