By : LUKE RINTOD
THE SABAH chapter of Star was launched here today with the announcement that it has managed to gain 60,000 new members in just three weeks.
A crowd of about 4,000 mostly men, received the announcement at an almost packed Hongkod Koisaan Hall in Penampang near here, with a burst of applause.
All ardent supporters of maverick politician Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, they greeted the news as confirmation that their hero would once again be catapulted to new political heights in the up-coming general election.
“Todate, we have received about 60,000 applications forms to become members of Star in Sabah,” said Jalumin Bayogoh, the master of ceremonies for the event.
“Out of the 100,000 forms distributed we have received back 60,000 forms,” Jalumin said as an afternoon shower started, threatening to put a damper on the proceedings.
A check with one of Kitingan’s lieutenants, Daniel John Jambun, confirmed the figure.
“Yes it is a fact we already received about 60,000 applications out of the 100,000 forms distributed through our men and coordinators throughout Sabah,” he told FMT.
The forms were understood to have been distributed soon after the first anniversary of United Borneo Front (UBF) on Dec 16.
The heavy rains failed to dampen those who turned in droves in cars and buses, some all the way from districts as far as Tawau, Kudat and Nabawan.
Jambun believes the crowd would have been much larger if the event had been held either on Saturday or Sunday. Organisors had to settle for Friday afternoon as the hall had been booked for most weekends until May this year.
“Nevertheless it was a huge success,” he said adding that more members as well as influential opinion leaders are expected to join the Sabah chapter of Star.
Apart for Kitingan and Star president, Dr Dripin Sakoi, also present were representatives of various organisations including Amdee Sidek, deputy president of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) who came with his colleagues, Monggoh Orow, the deputy state chairman of Amanah as well as leaders of Sabah People Front (SPF) which is expecting to get a boost from senior state Umno leaders soon.
Former president of Setia (now renamed Bersama), Henry Sabagong Rumpit handed in his membership application form on the spot.
Newly-installed State Reform Party (Star) Sabah Chapter Chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan has warned Pakatan Rakyat today ‘not to be greedy’ and to focus on their challenges in the peninsular.
He also said that it would not be of any good to Sabah if peninsular-based parties are allowed to “dominate and control” Sabah like what Umno is doing.
“Enough is enough. We cannot depend on outsiders to lead us. Let Pakatan Rakyat parties concentrate in Peninsular. They control already four states, why must control Sabah and Sarawak too? Don’t be too greedy.
“If they (PR parties), like Umno also want to dominate and control over us, then there is not much difference between them and Umno or Barisan Nasional.
“A takeover by any Malayan-based party will result in us in the same situation under Umno. You can take from me,” said the maverick Kitingan who was once jailed for speaking up for Sabah rights during former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rule.
He was speaking at the launching of the Sabah chapter of the Sarawak-based party at the Hongkod Koisaan hall near hear Friday.
Kitingan, who was a a vice-president of PKR before this, said the time had come for Sabah-based political parties to take charge and responsibility again in the state matters.
During his 50 minutes speech, Kitingan explained the conditions of Sabah and Sarawak in at the onset of Malaysia formation in 1963 and the dashed hope of the people in both the successive governments as well as the current and previous leaders of the two large states.
The Harvard scholar also explained why he finally chose Star instead of other state parties as his vehicle.