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Young PBS leaders need chances to shine: Analysts
Published on: Sunday, December 04, 2022
By: Tracy Bul, FMT
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Young PBS leaders need chances to shine: Analysts
KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), the state’s oldest local political party, had a dismal showing in the recent parliamentary general election, which took the shine off the party’s status as one of the most important multicultural parties in Sabah.

PBS president Maximus Ongkili failed to win a seventh term as Kota Marudu MP, reminiscent of the loss suffered by party founder and former president Joseph Pairin Kitingan in Keningau in 2018.

Political analyst Arnold Puyok said that these losses, while painful, will give the party the jolt it needs to redefine its direction if it wants to survive in the ever-crowded political scene in Sabah.

“Maximus should have seen it coming. It was quite unfortunate though that both he and Pairin lost their respective seats while they were still at the helm of the party,” he told FMT.

“But it gives PBS a chance to rejuvenate the party. PBS has a brand name. It has a progressive and multiracial outlook which is quite suitable for Sabah’s multiracial society. If the party wants to survive, it has no choice but to change according to the current situation.”

Puyok said PBS leaders can do this by asking what is the party’s vision for Sabah and how it is different from that of other multiracial parties like Warisan.

He also said the new and young leaders in PBS must be allowed to speak out more regularly and openly about current issues relevant to the electorate.

Normally, only a few PBS leaders are allowed to speak on behalf of the party when it comes to expressing the party’s stance on issues.

“In addition, they need to get more members from other ethnic groups to truly reflect the party’s multiracial outlook,” he said.

PBS is still considered to be a party dominated by the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community, despite describing itself as a multiracial party.

Puyok said if PBS was not careful and failed to reinvent itself, it could be replaced by other multiracial or KDM-based parties such as Warisan, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah and even Parti Cinta Sabah.

All these parties have many young leaders and also a more youthful leadership line-up, compared to PBS.

Another political analyst, Lee Kuok Tiung, said that while young leaders have all the ingredients to succeed in the future, they need more chances to speak on behalf of the party.

Lee said PBS already has several young leaders in their ranks, but the party’s transition plan remains blurred. Most party leaders are in their 50s and older, and Lee said it was unfortunate that PBS’ young leaders had scarce opportunities to promote themselves.

“Maximus could play another role in the party like the party’s founder Pairin did after he finished his term,” he said.

“PBS needs to let the public know who these young leaders are because that’s a way for them to get the feedback from the grassroots, whether these new leaders are accepted by their supporters or not.

“The focus has always been on the same few people in PBS. This has created the impression that the party only has a few credible leaders, when in fact they have many more such as Kota Kinabalu candidate, the 32-year-old Yee Tsai Yiew,” he said.

Yee polled 4,592 votes in a five-way contest against candidates from Pakatan Harapan, Warisan, KDN and an independent. The seat was won by the PH candidate who polled 31,359 votes.



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