“STAR: Safeguarding Sabah’s Rights Not Sabah for Sabahans”
“STAR Sabah stands by its position that only local parties that genuinely fight for Sabah’s rights can safeguard Sabah’s rights and not outside parties or local parties or local leaders subservient to outsiders from the Peninsular. STAR is fighting for the Borneo Agenda and NOT for Sabah for Sabahans” replied Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chairman, in reference to the explanation by PKR Sepanggar acting chief, Timothy Thomas Lim.
It has never been the stand of STAR Sabah or the United Borneo Front (UBF) that Sabah should be for Sabahans. That is the old PBS slogan.
All this while the point emphasized is Peninsular parties cannot fight for or protect the best interests of Sabah as their priorities are not our priorities and our interests are not their interests. As Sabahans, we must be united and take responsibility for our own destiny and future and not depend on others to protect Sabah’s interests.
For instance, as demanded by some patriotic Sabahans that Sabah ask for the return of our oil or minimum 95% of the oil revenue from Sabah’s oil and gas, only local parties like STAR Sabah, SAPP and USNO are able to demand for such return or 95%.
In fact, STAR Sabah is asking for a minimum 50% as set out in its Petroleum Masterplan. Can Sabah BN or Sabah Pakatan deny that 50% oil revenue is better for Sabah and Sabahans than the current 5% under the BN government or the 20% proposed by Pakatan?
None of the Peninsular parties like Umno and Pakatan parties would be able to demand for 50% let alone 95% or 100%. Neither can Sabah Umno or Sabah Pakatan or their leaders be in a position to openly voice the demand for 50% oil revenue.
At the most, what Sabah Pakatan leaders can do would only to voice the 50% within their respective parties at national level only and their national level leadership comprising representatives from Peninsula, Sarawak and Sabah will have to make a decision. If the decision is no, then the request for 50% lies buried there and there is no further avenue for Sabah Pakatan unless the Sabah Pakatan leaders leave their respective parties.
For Sabah Umno and other Sabah BN components, the scenario is worse than Sabah Pakatan for they would not even have the will and guts to even voice it to their leaders in Umno in the former or to Umno leaders in the latter. This has been proven on numerous occasions on Sabah issues.
For STAR Sabah and other local non-BN parties, we have the autonomy and unfettered right to demand for Sabah without any obstacles unlike Sabah BN or Sabah Pakatan. Unlike other national parties, STAR Sabah is autonomous within Sabah.
In the present circumstances, it is openly acknowledged by BN and Pakatan that for them to form the federal government and take control of Putrajaya, a certain number of MPs from Sabah and Sarawak are needed.
This can be clearly seen from the numerous visits by the PM, DPM, senior ministers as well as the top leaders from Pakatan to Sabah.
If the United Borneo Alliance (UBA) in Sabah including STAR were to control the MP seats in Sabah, would it not be that UBA would be able to leverage and negotiate better terms for Sabah. None of the Sabah leaders of Peninsular based parties would be able to do so.
It has to be remembered that the number of MPs for Sabah and Sarawak is a constitutional safeguard meant to protect the rights of the Borneo States. The safeguard would be meaningless if the MPs are “controlled” by Peninsular parties.
In the United Kingdom, the Liberal Democrats hold only 57 seats in the 650-seats British Parliament. Yet, they were able to negotiate for the DPM and senior ministers to be appointed from their party and the coalition government adopt some of their policies although they were in conflict with those policies of their coalition partners.
There is no denying that the MP seats from Sabah and Sarawak are required for BN or Pakatan to form the federal government. The situation in Sabah would be similar to the United Kingdom in the forthcoming general elections.
Similarly, if the Sabah state government is dominated by local parties, they would not be subservient to the national parties. Peninsular parties cannot best represent Sabah’s interests and will be in no position to demand the best terms for Sabah which conflict with that of Malaya or of their national parties’ interests.
The time has come for Sabahans to stand united and take responsibility for our rights and autonomy and not depend on outsiders to decide our future and our destiny.
We also wish to highlight that in seeking Sabah’s rights and autonomy, STAR Sabah is not demanding for any additional rights or to take away any rights of any other state but merely seeking to restore the rights and autonomy which belong to Sabah in the first place and which have been lost since 1963.
Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan
09 March 2012