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FOR a person who has often been called a "political frog", State Reform Party (Star) chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan's intention to compel his party's candidates for the coming general election to sign the international integrity agreement obviously sounds hypocritical.
A local newspaper quoted Jeffrey, who had flirted in and out of at least six political parties before joining Star, as saying that the move was "to prevent cross-overs".
A closer scrutiny of Jeffrey's colourful political journey would reveal that in 2001 he hopped to Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) after winning the Bingkor state seat on a Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) ticket.
PBS was then in the opposition, while PBRS was a component member of the state Barisan Nasional (BN).
He also successfully enticed five other PBS assemblymen -- Datuk Johnny Goh (Inanam), Datuk Louis Rampas (Kiulu), Edward Linggu (Tamparuli), Karim Adam (Kundasang) and Atong Magabis (Matunggong) -- to join him in PBRS.
It was then speculated that Jeffrey's move to get the five PBS assemblymen to "jump" to PBRS was to strengthen his chances of being appointed chief minister under the then BN's unique system of rotating the post every two years.
However, the five assemblymen made an about-turn and returned to the PBS a few weeks later, perhaps after learning of Jeffrey's real motive and realising that he would not be appointed chief minister.
Going by Jeffrey's party-hopping penchant, his move to get Star candidates to sign such a letter of undertaking raised more questions than answers.
Many would perhaps still remember that Jeffrey was a strong advocate of the anti-hopping law introduced by the PBS soon after it took over the state government in 1985.
He, however, made a mockery of his so-called opposition to party-hopping, when he, too, switched political allegiance following the collapse of the PBS government in 1994 after several of its assemblymen crossed over to the BN.
Over the last 18 years, Jeffrey's political journey had, among others, seen him joining the PBRS, the now defunct Angkatan Keadilan Rakyat (Akar), United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Organisation (Upko), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and now Star.
In between, he had also rejoined the PBS only to leave again for reasons best known to him. He had also reportedly attempted to join Umno, which he now detests to the core, in 2003 although his application was rejected.
Some of Jeffrey's supporters, including a teacher I met recently, argue that there are advantages to hopping from one political party to another in terms of gaining experience "through trial and error".
But to some, Jeffrey's dubious record of frequently changing political affiliations has raised a big question mark over his sincerity and integrity as a leader. Jeffrey will have to erase the negative perception cast on him as an "unprincipled politician" in his attempt to resurrect his political fortune.
He will also have to deal with the question of being ungrateful to his elder brother and PBS founding president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan who paved the way for whatever success he had achieved in politics.
The question of being an ingrate arose after Jeffrey was reported to have confirmed that he would take on Pairin, the Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the Kadazandusun, for the Keningau parliamentary seat in the coming general election.
Jeffrey may insist that his decision was purely politics and had nothing to do with family ties, but to a great many Sabahans, especially the Kadazandusuns, it is an act of betrayal.