Shake-up in Sabah STAR leadership

Jeffrey Kitingan has dropped all his five deputies and is rumoured to have appointed an ex-Umno leader as Sabah State Reform Party’s vice-chairman. 

Luke Rintod, FMT

The Sabah chapter of Sarawak-based State Reform Party (STAR) top leadership has appointed its new state line-up in a presidential-decree style, shocking reform-minded leaders in the party.

With the absence of a clear proviso in the party constitution, Sabah STAR chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan, is apparently left with absolute power ‘to hire and fire’ in the party here.

He began his bid to overhaul the party following its shocking defeats in the recent 13th general election, by not reappointing all his five deputies.

The five who were dropped are Daniel John Jambun, Awang Ahmad Sah Awang Sahari, Paul Voon, Dr Nicholas James Guntobon and Jacob Sadang Chang.

Except for Jambun, the rest, it is understood, have not indicated their intention to stop serving in their capacities.

Jambun has since told FMT that he wanted to concentrate on the activities of his UK-based NGO, Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BOPIM).

FMT learnt that Kitingan only consulted a few Sabah STAR leaders on his new line-up, notably its secretary Guande Kohoi, leaving even some senior leaders who had stood in the just-concluded general election, in the dark until last minute.

Paul Voon, Awang Ahmad Sah and Dr Guntobon however were among the 60 party divisional leaders summoned to Sunflower Restaurant in Penampang near here to hear the announcement.

Dr Guntobon when contacted said he is now one of the vice-chairmen in the party and has been retained as Kitingan’s deputy head for Keningau.

Dr Guntobon however has been “stripped” of his post as coordinator of Liawan state constituency where he had stood in the recent election.

Keeping genuine leaders

Jambun when contacted only said: “I refused reappointment. I wanted to focus on my NGO that seeks to restore the sovereignty of Sabah as nation”.

He refused further comment on STAR and surfacing rumours of disappointment among the party’s second-echelon of leaders on the new line-up which they claimed included a fresh former Umno leader. The ex-Umno leader has apparently been appointed as vice-chairman.