PBS, Star merger success hinges on sincerity, says Pairin

PENAMPANG: The sincerity of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) is key to a successful merger, said PBS founder Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

"Is it not good when we say, 'let's be friends, let's work together to build a big house or develop land for the common good?' Indeed, it is good.

"But what is important is the sincerity in wanting to shake hands, be friends, and work towards a common goal," he said during a press conference at Hongkod Koisaan, here.

Last month, in a joint statement, PBS and Star had said that they would sign an agreement to seal the cooperation between the two Sabah-based parties before the coming Chinese New Year in February next year.

They said discussions centred on the formulation of details on the cooperation between the two political outfits that could contribute towards strengthening the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition ahead of the 17th Sabah elections, which is due in 2025.

When asked whether the future merger would be something that he envisioned when Pairin formed the party in 1985, he said that he could not comment further as he was not in the committee of the merger.

"(As for their sincerity), the negotiation hasn't been completed, right? Let them discuss, hold meetings, shake hands, exchange greetings, drink together and enjoy food with other friends so that the results of the meeting, the gathering, will emerge. So, let's wait. The important thing is the intention.

"Many talk about wanting unity, wanting to be friends, wanting to cooperate, not only these two, but there are others too.

"But our hope is that we pray that the discussions will result in goodness for the state of Sabah. This is important. So when they discuss, they should discuss seriously, not just for show."

Earlier, he said that as the Huguan Siou and KadazanDusun Cultural Association (KDCA) president, he would help the people from six districts claiming to be wrongly evicted from their lands to be given rightful ancestral ownership.

Yesterday, he had received a petition and the memorandum brought to a group of protesters from Tongod, Tawau, Nabawan Tenom, Keningau and Ranau through an organisation called the Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation.

"Whilst I deeply sympathise with their plight, it is to be acknowledged that the state government is the authority and the responsibility befalls on them to resolve the issues underlying this petition.

"My role here is to receive their memorandum and appeal, and not to ignore their plight, and provide the necessary relevant assistance accordingly.

"We, KDCA, on our part, will forward the relevant documents to the government for scrutiny, analysis and, finally, resolve the issues and make the people happy.

"At this juncture, and to show my sympathy on the issues brought to my attention, I would like to propose that a task force be formed to deal with the intricate issues arising out of each district."

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