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PBS, Sabah STAR to sign MOU of cooperation on April 18

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Sabah STAR are set to formalise their cooperation on April 18.

Party presidents Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili (PBS) and Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (STAR) will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with PBS adviser Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan expected to be present for the signing.

The pact aims to foster cooperation between PBS and STAR in the state elections and beyond.

It also marks the end of tensions between the two parties that broke out during 2020 Sabah elections.

Sabah STAR assistant secretary-general Arduino Diris hinted that the MOU could include the formation of a joint-party council to set the direction of the pact.

“It will be akin to two parties with a shared direction,” he said.

Last November, it was reported that PBS and STAR had agreed to start formal negotiations focussed on building understanding and cooperation.

Dr Jeffrey Kitingan had revived the idea of a merger with PBS, describing it as one way to strengthen the two Kadazandusun Murut-based parties.

Invitations were sent out this morning to the media to attend the MOU signing, which will be held the same day as the opening of the Sabah Assembly.

The pact comes following a proposal from Kitingan for both parties to merge last year.

The idea was shelved but both sides have committed to collaborate and in December, they formed a special committee to oversee the effort.

Dr Jeffrey had revived the idea of a merger with PBS, describing it as one way to strengthen the two Kadazandusun Murut-based parties.

Kitingan said the idea of a merger had been floated since the 2020 state election.

The panel has met several times since, the latest meeting being held early this month. 

The pact will likely see PBS and Sabah STAR agreeing to a seat-sharing formula and consolidating their machinery.

The agreement is also poised to address the bad blood stemming from the 2020 Sabah elections where both sides clashed over designated seats.

PBS had decided at the last minute to contest for 22 seats instead of its allotted 15, clashing with Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional (PN). 

Sabah Star was a component of PN at the time. But it is now part of the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah coalition, as is PBS.

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