KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Jospeh Pairin Kitingan wants the party to further strengthen its position as a multiracial party representing all ethnic groups in Sabah.
Delivering his keynote address during the PBS 29th anniversary dinner here on Wednesday, he said nurturing unity among the people of Sabah should remain the main agenda of the party, apart from encouraging a more active political awareness and participation from among the younger generation.
“Our struggle that is centered on the interest of all races must be continued and strengthened, especially in today’s environment where racial frictions and conflicts are a growing problem everywhere except in Sabah.
“People in Sabah have long been united; we can sit together in one function, celebrate together our every festival in a family spirit. This is the reality of our everyday life in Sabah and this is what we should continue fighting for,” he said.
Pairin said PBS must be forward looking and fully appreciate that its struggle would not be without challenges and obstacles.
Close ties and cooperation between leaders and members from different racial backgrounds were vital in order for PBS to overcome these challenges, he stressed.
“We must also touch base with our youth, as only by doing this can we ensure that our party remains relevant and accepted. We need to explain to them the issues facing our country, especially in terms of economic development and get them on board in implementing necessary measures.
“At this juncture, I would like to call on all of us to make full use of each and every machinery at our disposal to strengthen PBS’ presence and contribution towards youth development and the betterment of our community.
“I hope PBS will continue to be an important party that is supported by the people until its 100th anniversary and beyond. Let the message be loud and clear that our struggle will continue for Sabah and all its people,” he said.
Pairin also stressed on the importance for PBS to continue pushing on security-related matters, saying the bloody incursion in Lahad Datu early last year should serve as an important lesson for leaders and the people in Sabah.
Earlier, secretary general cum organizing chairman Datuk Johnny Mositun, in his welcoming remark, said PBS had since its inception nearly three decades ago managed to position itself as a multi-racial party accepted by all.
He said the party had recorded many important political milestones for Sabah and continued to be accepted by all ethnic groups despite its changing allegiance to the Barisan Nasional (BN).
“PBS was once in the opposition side before it rejoined BN. Because PBS is a good party, we were invited to rejoin the coalition by the country’s leadership then. In the interest of Sabah and its people, we accepted the invitation without making any demand or conditions.
“So, don’t fall for the lies and propaganda by certain parties that PBS could no longer do anything for Sabah under BN. Just look at the constituencies under PBS that have been taken over by the opposition – the opposition leaders could not bring about development nor address the problems faced by the people in the area, unlike when they were under PBS,” he said.