BERSATU SABAH (PBS) was registered as a political party on
5th March 1985 amidst an uncertain and turbulent political
environment. The founding president The Hon. Datuk Seri Panglima
Joseph Pairin Kitingan was only months earlier forced out
of the ruling BERJAYA party for his fearless stand against
certain party policies that had diverted away from its original
He bravely faced the might of the ruling government as an
Independent candidate in a by-election for the Tambunan seat
in December 1984. Against all odds and despite massive threats,
insinuations and "vote-buying" through on-the-spot
approval of development projects and other private amenities,
incumbent Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan retained
his State Assembly seat with an overwhelming majority of 3,048
triumphant victory of Datuk Seri Panglima Pairin in the Tambunan
by-election ignited a fire of political bravery that inspired
a new movement of Malaysians in Sabah to push for political
change and challenge the abuse of political power, stifling
of democratic rights, and disrespect for human dignity committed
by the BERJAYA government. These few brave, risk-taking and
visionary Malaysians led by the Tambunan Assemblyman, and
backed by a silent but grossly dissatisfied majority at the
grassroots' level, formed the initial core leaders of PBS
subsequent political records of PBS were amazing. So much
so that Sabah's political landscape became a fertile field
of research for aspiring, young political scientists.
the April 1985 State election, PBS won 26 of the 48 Legislative
Assembly seats. It formed the new State government with Datuk
Seri Panglima Pairin as Chief Minister, but not before one
of the leaders of the losing parties made a mockery of parliamentary
democracy by attempting to get sworn in as Chief Minister.
This incident later became a major court battle with the judiciary
ruling in favour of the PBS government.
11 months of governing under tremendous pressure, PBS called
for another State election in 1986. This time it won 34 of
the 48 Assembly seats, thereby forming the State government
for the second term.
1990 PBS called for the State general election and this time
won 36 seats and formed the State government for the third
February 1994 PBS faced the general election with unprecedented
pressure from the Barisan Nasional, largely because of the
party's sudden exit from the national coalition four years
earlier. Despite the presence of phantom voters PBS still
won the elections for the fourth successive time but with
a reduced majority, i.e. 25 seats as against the Barisan Nasional's
23 seats. Datuk Seri Panglima Pairin had to wait for more
than 36 hours outside the palace (Istana) gate before he was
sworn in as the Chief Minister because of manouvering by Barisan
Nasional leaders who could not accept the people's democratic
fourth-term PBS government lasted only about two weeks before
it was forced out of power through undemocratic manouverings
by the Barisan Nasional. The resignation was caused by defections
of a majority of PBS Assemblymen to Barisan Nasional parties.
Some of the former PBS leaders also formed their own political
lost the majority in the State Assembly, Datuk Seri Panglima
Pairin resigned as Chief Minister on 17 March 1994 before
a shocked Malaysian public. It was unbelievable that a case
of a democratically elected government losing power within
days after a general election due to party hopping by dishonourable
Assemblyman was happening for the first time on Malaysian
1994 PBS undertook a major restructuring of its organisation
and political machinery. PBS is the only Sabah political party
that has won four successive State elections. It has not lost
a single general election. This solid record and the undignified
way that PBS was forced out of government have kept the party's
supporters intact at the grassroots' level. The number of
members and supporters is still growing daily.
the April 1995 general parliamentary election, despite having
a new set of leaders, PBS won eight (8) of the 20 parliamentary
seats in Sabah. Two seats were lost narrowly to Barisan Nasional
candidates by just about 200 votes. PBS remains resilient
and true to its political struggle and set to achieve its
stated mission and objectives.
the March 1999 Sabah General Elections, despite all the odds
and tainted electoral rolls, PBS managed to win 17 seats with
a total votes of 213,432 against the combined BN component
which garnered a total of 240,110 votes.
22 April 2000, six PBS Assemblymen led by Datuk Dr Jeffery
Kitingan defected to PBRS. On 8 June 2001, the High Court
concurred with Dr Chong Eng Leong in his Election Petition
to declare the State Seat of Likas null and void. A by-election
for Likas was held on 21 July 2001.
11 September 2001, Datuk Pairin publicly supported the Prime
Minister of Malaysia stand in denouncing the terrorist attack
on the World Trade Centre.
12 and 13 September 2001, the 16th PBS Delegates Conference
gave a mandate to the Supreme Council to make a decision with
regards to the issue of PBS re-entry to the BN. At the Supreme
Council meeting held on 13 November 2001, a resolution on
PBS's re-admission to BN was approved.
15 November 2001, Datuk Pairin led a Supreme Council's delegation
to submit PBS application for re-admission into BN to the
BN Chairman, YAB Dato' Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad at the
Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur.
23 January 2002, PBS was re-admitted into the BN's fold.
14 April 2002, five PBS Assemblymen who defected to PBRS together
with the Deputy Speaker return to the PBS's fold.
26 October 2002, Datuk Pairin led the Supreme Council's delegation
to make a courtesy visit to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
17th PBS Delegates Conference held on 3 and 4 November 2002
was officially declared open by the Rt Hon Deputy Prime Minister,
Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi.
the March 2004 Sabah General Elections, PBS won 13 State seats
and 4 Parliamentary seats allocated to it. Datuk Pairin was
made the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Rural Development,
Dr Yee Moh Chai as Minister of Resource Development and IT,
Datuk Radin Malleh as Assistant Minister to teh Chief MInister,
Edward Yong as Assistant Minister of Local Government and
Housing, Jahid Jahim as Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports,
Jornah Mozihim as Assistant Minister of Social Welfare and
Services. Dr Maximus Ongkili was appointed as a Minister in
the Prime Minister's Department with the Racial Unity and
Integration as his main portfolio.
PBS now as a major partner in the Sabah BN government, the
political situation in Sabah has now stabilised. A new chapter
for Sabah has now begun.