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PBS and STAR sign MoU to strengthen political cooperation

KOTA KINABALU: The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation between Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and STAR on Thursday is geared at ensuring a victory for Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in the state election.

PBS deputy president and acting president, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Joachim Gunsalam stressed the importance of being united and said that if they were divided, they would not be as strong.

He cited the result of the last election and said they would have gotten more than 13 seats.

Joachim also said that he does not see the merger between PBS and STAR as a threat to other parties (in GRS).

“The ultimate aim to join together is to win more seats in the next election (for GRS),” he said at the ceremony which saw the MoU, which he described as a commitment to bridge political divide, signed at Hongkod Koisaan near here on Thursday.

He also said that their goal was for the GRS government to consolidate the power in Sabah and to make Sabah First, Sabah Prosper, Sabah Forward and Sabah United.
With regards to seats allocation in the coming election, he said the 13 seats that they have were not negotiable, while the rest are up for discussion.

He also said that prior to the merger, which he likened to a marriage, there is the “merisik” and “engagement”.
“Before the merge, it is important to understand each other,” he said.

Meanwhile, STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan elaborated the MoU between both parties was an understanding to work together with the realisation that both have the same aspiration, the same purpose and the same struggle.

He added that there is an awareness that to achieve the aspiration of the people and their objectives, they have no choice but to work together, be united and in solidarity.

“Because we have learned from history that when we fight with each other, it is not just us who lose, the party, and the leaders but also the people also suffer from loss.

“As long as we lack understanding or fight among ourselves. It is with this awareness, we have learned from our mistakes. We want to be able to meet the aspirations of the people,” he said.

He added that both STAR and PBS wasted resources in the past, and vowed not to repeat the same mistake and win three times the 13 seats they acquired in the last election.

Jeffrey also agreed with Joachim concerning the merger and said that they don’t want to rush to become one.
“Like Joachim said, we get engaged first. In this MoU, we do not want to rush to become one,” he said.

“We will learn how to work together, form a joint council as the mechanism to form policies … we will sit together, two bodies with one purpose, such as our direction and our stance concerning politics and delegate to our respective bodies. We should be able to move forward,” he said.

He also said that there’s no need to compete because they are together.

“We will identify the areas we would like to contest at. We will identify together,” he said.

Jeffrey also urged other GRS component parties to not worry because this would further strengthen the GRS rule.

He added that the Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji Noor, has given his 100 percent support towards their cooperation.

PBS founder, Huguan Siou Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan described the ceremony as a special day and said that he was invited to witness the event.

“I did not think twice because this MoU between the two parties shows their determination towards unity and cooperation,” said Pairin.

“I hope the result of the MoU will be continued with detailed discussions. I am sorry to say but there will not be much time to sleep well because you need to work with focus, with seriousness,” he said.

He added that it was important to follow up and follow through, and said that they must work hard, not just for the election next year but their thinking must be followed through, right to the end result.

Pairin also urged for the cooperation to continue on until it attained their joint ambitions.

“Please don’t disappoint us again,” he said.

In the 16th Sabah State Election, STAR and PBS each won six and seven seats in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), respectively.

The GRS coalition consists of Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan Rakyat), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), PBS, STAR, United Sabah National Organisation (USNO), Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (PHRS) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

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