Kota Marudu Member of Parliament

Ongkili pays tribute to Pairin, says he's prepared to assume PBS leadership

TAWAU: Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili will look to his experience to bring Parti Bersatu Sabah to greater heights as he takes over the helm of the party leadership.

The Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister attributed much of what he learnt to his mentor, veteran politician and PBS president, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan. In thanking Pairin and the PBS Supreme Council members for entrusting him to manage matters related to the party, Ongkili anticipated a challenging task ahead.

“He (Pairin) has set a very high standard of leadership, especially in the realm of humility, integrity and resilience. “But after 22 years in his ‘school’ as deputy president, I am confident that we can add value to PBS as we reinvent our machinery and sharpen our focus,” said Ongkili after attending a Hari Raya open house hosted by PBS Vice-President and PBS Sebatik Division chief, Mohd Balbir Arjan and wife, Jonitha Kadir, at their residence, here today.

Ongkili, who is the party's longest-serving deputy president, said he is well prepared for the task, noting that he had the unfortunate experience of starting his political career in the Opposition bench, and: “spent 59 days under the ISA in 1991 after being implicated in (Sabah Star President) Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan's alleged plan to take Sabah out of Malaysia.” Nevertheless, Ongkili noted that the misfortune strengthened his resolve to speak for the truth and renewed his faith in God, yielding invaluable lessons for political resilience and management. “My first nine years as member of parliament and state assemblyman were in the Opposition. Learnt a lot through the hard way, but the last three terms as Cabinet Minister exposed me to decision-making in the central government … so we are quite seasoned in facing challenges confronting the party,” he said.

PBS Secretary-General Datuk Johnny Mositun yesterday announced that at the request of Pairin, the party’s Supreme Council resolved to empower Ongkili to carry out presidential duties with immediate effect. Mositun said it was part of the preparations for the succession of leadership plan, apart from allowing Pairin to concentrate with his official ministerial and non-governmental organisations duties until the end of the current parliamentary and state assembly term.

“I may assume his duties in the party, but he (Pairin) is still our president. I am just there to direct political strategy, and run the party's office and administration work until the eventual handover. The Huguan Siou will continue to be invaluable, whether politically active or otherwise," Ongkili said.

Ongkili,who is also Kota Marudu Member of Parliament, noted that PBS, like any other political party must continuously reinvent itself to face the challenges of time. “In PBS, the core struggle remains the same - defence and promotion of multiracial politics, protection of State rights and pursuit of State security through resolution of illegal immigrants problem.

“We need to be more persistent and bolder in pursuing these goals, even through Barisan Nasional. And we make no apologies in being vocal regarding these issues,” he said. In addition, he also believes in the need to inject ‘new blood’ to maintain the multiracial makeup of the party to ensure the long term succession plan is maintained.


Source - New Straits Times