There no longer exists any Sabah politicians who can claim that they were not 'frogs', says political maverick Jeffrey Kitingan.
KENINGAU: Maverick politician Jeffrey Kitingan, often accused of being a political frog, launched a stinging attack on Sabah politicians for lacking integrity and being unable to fight for the state.
He rebuked those who claim he was a “political frog” for jumping from party to party, saying unlike him, all local leaders had switched allegiances and had forsaken their political principles.
Now the Sabah chairman of the State Reform Party (STAR), he said there were no Sabah politicians who could claim they were not “frogs” as it was well known that they had switched allegiances a number of times to gain or remain in power.
“We are all frogs; even Chief Minister [Musa Aman], even Parti Bersatu Sabah president [Joseph Pairin Kitingan] lack political integrity.
Jeffrey, the younger brother of Joseph Pairin, however, said at the launching of the party branch in Bingkor on Sunday that he had switched parties several times in order to look for solutions for Sabah and “not for my own interest”.
The Harvard University-trained scholar said he had done so because other Sabah leaders had failed to resolve the state’s perennial problems despite joining the government.
With a broad sweep of the brush, he painted all Sabah politicians with the same label they had tarred him with as they had “all in one way or another switched sides to further their political careers” and that they only stopped “hopping” the moment they got positions and personal comfort.
He said among Sabah politicians, sacrificing the aspirations of the people was nothing new.
For now, he said, these “selfish leaders” would stick with the ruling Umno as long as the party is in government or as long as they have their own position but would jump to other parties if Umno is no longer ruling.
“They are actually fat frogs now so they don’t jump anymore,” he said.
‘STAR has its perjuangan’
Likening Sabah BN component parties to “buffaloes led by their nose”, he accused them of being traitors to Sabahans and puppets of Peninsular-based Umno and that they have no choice but to sing Umno’s tune to remain in power.
“We in STAR have our ‘perjuangan’, but they have lost theirs. They have forgotten because they are full now, because they are intoxicated by projects,” he said in one of his most stinging attacks yet against Sabah leaders working in cahoots with Umno, including his own brother Pairin.
Chiding those who ridiculed his party hopping, Jeffrey said none of the parties he joined would carry his struggle to regain the independence of Sabah.
He said everyone fell for lucrative positions and self-comfort.
“Sabah is an independent country by itself. Whoever subscribes to a vision of an independent Sabah should join us in STAR now and make sure Umno’s stooges are defeated in the coming general election,” he told an appreciative crowd of more than 400.
He also warned Sabahans that they would be getting “out of the frying pan and into a fire” by supporting other opposition parties such as PKR as they were peninsular Malaysia-based parties who would only weaken Sabah and strengthen Malayan hegemony over Sabah.
“Don’t be disheartened as the coming election is another opportunity God gives us to change the situation. As long as we are alive, we still have hope and it is this hope that makes the people support STAR,” he said, adding that STAR had registered 175,000 members in six months.
He promised that if STAR formed the next state government, it would double the monthly welfare aid to all qualified senior citizens from RM300 to RM600 and also RM500 would be placed in a savings account for each Sabahan baby born.
Jeffrey was later proclaimed by the organiser as the “Father of Struggle to Reclaim Sabah Rights” at the function and a group of children presented a plaque of a symbolic seven-pointed star to him to mark the launching of the Bingkor branch of the party.