>> Friday, January 23, 2009

23rd January, 2009

KOTA KINABALU: PBRS president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup has challenged his Barisan Nasional (BN) colleague Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to an open debate over the candidacy for the much-anticipated Pensiangan by-election.

Kurup who is the Deputy Minister of Rural Development urged Pairin who is the PBS president not to hide behind his secretary-general Datuk Radin Malleh and to face him as a gentleman.

“I would like to meet Datuk Pairin face to face to debate on his recent statement on the candidacy in Pensiangan and the implications of that statement as well as what I said about his performance as a two-term Pensiangan MP and his “colourful and well documented history with BN,” he said here yesterday.

He was responding to a statement issued by Radin on Wednesday questioning him (Kurup) on his chances of winning the Pensiangan seat, if and when a by-election was called.

Radin especially reminded Kurup that the Pensiangan seat was never won by PBRS in the real sense of the word but was given a ‘free ride’ in the spirit of the BN.

Radin was responding to Kurup’s attack on Pairin for ruling him out as the automatic choice of candidate for the by-election.

And he even quipped that Kurup himself was the one who did not know how to read the political situation and local sentiments in Pensiangan which indicated that the voters wanted a local Murut to be the candidate.

Kurup, according to Radin, should rule himself out of the running since he was neither a local of the area nor a Murut and he had lost before not only there but in other seats as well.

Taking Kurup to task for questioning Pairin over his record of public service and ridiculing him in the media, Radin pointed out that Kurup had failed the people wherever he represented them and that it was evident from the talk on the ground.

He cited for example when Kurup was the state assemblyman for Sook from 1985 to 1999 and again from 2004 to 2008 but failed to deliver his promises. In addition, he also held the post of state Finance Minister and Deputy Chief Minister during that period and now a federal Deputy Minister for Rural and Regional Development.

He thus advised Kurup to think of the people of Pensiangan and not just of himself.

“Kurup should do some soul-searching for the sake of the people in Pensiangan as well as the fate of the BN,” said Radin.

Kurup was offended by Pairin’s remarks and retaliated by hitting him with remarks which did not go down well with PBS and state BN leaders.

“As much as I would not like to say anything, I am compelled to do so in response to Pairin’s interference in this well-prepared machinery when he raised the question of the candidate for Pensiangan,” said Kurup.

He said Pairin’s remarks would undoubtedly weaken, to an extent, their election machinery and his ill-conceived remarks were definitely not in line with the BN spirit.

And, Kurup also claimed that the people knew who to vote for and that Pairin was out of touch with reality, lacked the BN spirit since he pulled out from the coalition two decades ago, and had a poor record of public service when he was Chief Minister (1985-1994).

Radin’s remark that Kurup had failed the people was echoed by former Pensiangan MP Bernard S Maraat, who recently quit PBRS to join PBS.

Bernard who has been appointed chairman of the Sandakan Sawit Palm Oil Industrial Cluster, was denied the chance to defend his seat in last year’s March 8 general election when Kurup decided that he wanted the seat for himself.

“We don’t want Pensiangan to become the third opposition victim after the BN lost two parliamentary by-elections in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu,” said Maraat.

He also conceded that the constituents of Pensiangan were no longer satisfied with such handouts like chainsaw, parang, cangkul, rice mill and grass cutter as inducement to vote for BN.

“We have done all this previously,” he said.

Bernard also urged the state government to see to it that all projects promised were promptly implemented in Pensiangan.

“It is important for the federal government to start the projects without further delay. We don’t want any delay to be politicised by the opposition during the Pensiangan by-election.

“All elected representatives and government departments should sit down together and settle the matter as quickly as possible. If not, the people will not only reject the BN in the Pensiangan by-election but also in the next general election,” he added.

Kurup’s victory in Pensiangan at the last election was declared null and void last Sept 8 by the Election Court following a petition brought by PKR candidate Danny Anthony Andipai.

Andipai is said to have the support of Pakatan Rakyat leaders to contest in the seat as the opposition candidate.

“Sabah PKR deputy chief Ansari Abdullah is not the only one to favour Andipai as the candidate,” said PKR Tuaran division secretary, Jumin Jeffrey Masuling.

“Other Pakatan components like DAP and PAS would not deny Andipai the chance to contest should he be selected as the candidate for the seat. It is obviously because of him that the seat fell vacant,” Jumin added.

Sources : New Sabah Times.


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