KOTA KINABALU, Sept 22 — After previously admitting that he had backed several independent candidates to contest against allies in the ongoing Sabah election, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan today said he does not have control over them.
The Tambunan incumbent, who is part of the Perikatan National (PN) coalition that makes up the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) alliance, today disassociated his party from the independent candidates.
“Independent candidates are free. They are not our candidates. That’s out of our control,” he told reporters in Keningau on his campaign tour.
He also disassociated his party from Inanam independent Kenny Chua, a former Sabah PKR vice-president, who had openly declared he was being helped by STAR and had PN’s "blessings" to run in the state election.
“I cannot stop Kenny from issuing that statement. The fact is we have a candidate there and we will support the GRS candidate in the area,” Kitingan said, referring to PBS candidate William Majimbon.
PN information chief Datuk Azmin Ali, who was also present, said that they could not stop any independent from using PN logos in their election paraphernalia.
“We cannot stop anyone from using PN’s logo. This is proof that PN is very popular and well-received. But we have said that we have no independent candidates aligned to PN, as we already have candidates in every seat.
“If they want to use our name, we see it positively that we are accepted by all parties. But we cannot support them because we already have to support our candidates,” said Azmin.
Kitingan was previously reported saying his party endorsed several independent candidates and Inanam incumbent Chua after its partners in GRS, Parti Bersatu Sabah fielded candidates in seats that was promised to STAR.
The GRS alliance consists of PN, BN and PBS. However, the alliance could not reach an agreement on seat allocations.
Clashes have broken out in 17 out of 73 seats up for grabs in the state legislative assembly, not including the independents that were believed to be allied with STAR, with Kitingan’s blessings.