Many parties but One Struggle

Reproduced from article published on 11 September at Sabahannewsonline.com

Nautilus Star

The above viralled memes which has been making its round in Social Media is both unfair and misleading as it is done without giving any explanation behind Datuk Dr Jeffrey G. Kitingan’s (DDJK) actions. Therefore, will lead to misperception and taken out of context.

Those who are borned after 1970 will not know or understand DDJK’s cause. Much less those who are borned in the 80s and so on. What we have today in the public domain (social media) is the end product of years of demonising DDJK by his detractors.

In the 90s when DDJK started his political career, the internet was but a fledgling technology. There was no Whatsapp, Twitter or Facebook. So news travelled slowly via ‘kopi tiam’ talk and it picked additional fabrication as it snowballed. 

Rumours to discredit him were planted by his opponents on the paper (print media) and they would just take a life of its own from there. To this day we still hear old timers claiming DDJK did this and that. When pressed for proofs, most of the time they could only say, ‘I heard this from my brother in-law who has a friend who knew someone who knew him.’ Invariably, these are their answers.

And they would pass their misperception and prejudice to the younger generations. Then it would be, ‘My father told me so.’ Repeat a lie often enough, it would become the truth. Repeated, amplified and validated by heresay.

DDJK started his political career in 1990. Prior to that he was a civil servant.
• 1969 – Lahad Datu. Rural Administrator, Sabah Department• 1969 – Kota Kinabalu. Chief Clerk, Sabah Department• 1975 – Lahad Datu. Executive Officer, Sabah Department.• 1977 – 1978 – Kota Kinabalu. Principal Assistant Director, Sabah Establishment Department.• 1978 – Kota Kinabalu. Director, Sabah Administration Management and Modernisation.• 1985 – Kota Kinabalu. Founder/Executive Chairman, Institute of Development Sabah.• 1985 – Kota Kinabalu. Director, Sabah Foundation

It was while serving in his various roles that DDJK observed the inequity and started delving into fixing it. He had done research and these were published prior to him entering politic.

In 1987, he published The 20 Points : Basis for Federal-State Relations for Sabah. It was the precursor to MA63. Soon DDJK decided that a political platform was needed to right the wrongs, his academic writings would only go so far. So he plunged head first into the world of politics in 1990 and started his lone journey in the wilderness of politic, preaching The 20 Points.

In those days, 20 points was almost unknown or forgotten as it was drafted almost 3 decades ago when DDJK started his crusade. Nearly all of our Founding Fathers from Sabah whom were privy to the formation of Malaysia were no longer with us then. 

The Federal government under then Dr Mahathir Mohammad tried to silence DDJK in every way they could. DDJK was called ‘gila’. Corruption charges were brought upon him. When they could not silence DDJK by legal means, they locked him up. On 13 May 1991, DDJK was arrested under the Internal Security Act accused of subversive political activities.

In January 1994, DDJK was released. Almost 2 years and 8 months from the date of his arrest. During the same month, the High Court in Hong Kong dismissed the application from the Malaysian government to use the Court in Hong Kong to collect evidence in Hong Kong to be used in DDJK’s corruption trial in Malaysia.

THE Malaysian Government cannot collect evidence from Hong Kong to use against a Sabah politician accused of corruption because it is a politically motivated prosecution, the High Court ruled yesterday.

The court heard that a long-standing bitter dispute existed between the Malaysian Government and the state government of Sabah about assurances given to Sabah in 1963 over protection of people’s religious and immigration rights. 

Mr Justice Jones was told of claims that, from 1976 to 1985, these rights were eroded by the Government with the connivance of Sabah’s state government.

In 1984, Kitingan’s brother Datuk Seri Joseph Kitingan led a new political party, the Parti Bersatu Sabah, to victory on a promise to restore state rights and reform the timber shipment industry.

He became chief minister of Sabah in 1985 and Jeffrey Kitingan was appointed chief executive of the Sabah Foundation, a charitable body set up to distribute income from timber exports.

A commercial arm was established and earnings rose rapidly. In 1988, Kitingan tried to break a Japanese cartel’s monopoly on the shipping of logs from Sabah. He failed, but the court was told commercial interests with links to the Government in Kuala Lumpur were antagonised.

Source here.

That same year in 1994, DDJK contested in the 12th DUN General Election and won the seat of N25 Bingkor. Defeating BN’s candidate by a wide majority. Support for PBS and Sabah’s rights was still very strong. PBS had their fresh mandate albeit being in the Opposition and formed the Government.

And then the mass exodus of PBS’ Asseblymen happened. It is an open secret that the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad knew about the clandestine move, if not being the one who oschestrated it. The caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal assumed office as MP of Semporna on 25 April 1995 and had been a member of UMNO Supreme Council until his falling out with former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

By then, the dissenting voices in Sabah had been beaten to submission by the Federal government’s superior machinery. The core leaders in PBS had parted ways and established their respective political parties. Most alligned themselves with BN. Chastened, most decided to work from within for Sabah’s development sake. Most had lost their appetites for a fight.

DDJK like the rest of them tried the same approach but still unwilling to yield. He briefly joined AKAR, was appointed Senator and made a Federal Deputy Minister of Housing & Local Government on 21 August 1994 but stepped down on 7 May 1995. You can hardly call that an action of someone who is only interested in positions. Why leave when you are already in the threshold of power?

DDJK left because he was looking for a platform to further his cause. To do that, he needed to be in the driver’s seat or at least have support from the top leadership on the course of their party’s struggle. However, he found none as fighting for Sabah’s rights or MA63 had become a taboo then and a political suicide. It was considered ‘gila’, a fool’s errand.

Eventually, after numerous attempts in getting into the corridors of power to effect change, he recalibrated his strategy and worked with one of the premiere oppositions, PKR. He was made Vice President. 

Soon, he found that the leadership was not really interested in championing MA63. They were only interested in National Issues and MA63 was not one of it.The top leadership in PKR was hesitant to ratify the Tambunan Declaration. The Declaration was of course among other things called for increase in our oil Royalty. 

DDJK again exited as his struggle with that of PKR had run its course and they had come to a fork in the road.
After many years of being blocked from forming a party, he found a loop hole in which he could exploit. After getting a nod from State Reform Party of Sarawak (STAR), DDJK set up a chapter of the Party in Sabah, Sabah STAR.

In 2016, STAR Sarawak underwent rebranding and Sabah STAR was no longer considered a local chapter. Hence, DDJK and Sabah STAR did not hop but instead they lost their benefactor. 

Sabah STAR re-emerged as Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku or STARSABAH and would go on to capture the Keningau Parliamentary Seat, Tambunan DUN and Bingkor DUN.