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Information on Kitingan Family

PBRS debacle



Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan is the other famous brother who made headlines nationwide when he was arrested under the Internal Security Act in 1990  for ‘plotting to take Sabah out of Malaysia’ along with several others. Prior to that he had grabbed headlines in the state for his work in the public service especially in the revamping of the State administration. He also won friends and enemies by speaking out against Datuk Harris on his car pool system.

 Dr. Jeffrey did his tertiary education in Perth Australia, returning to Sabah in 1975 with a much needed degree in Public Administration. He quickly climbed the public service ladder and initiated a number of administrative changes in the public service. After his confrontation with Harris, he left for the US to study at Harvard University to get his PhD and returned in 1984. He was appointed as General Manager in the Yayasan Sabah administration and became director in 1985. The rest, as they say, is history. He became the YS director and CEO of Innoprise Corporation. He was responsible for many of the Yayasan Sabah/Innoprise Corporation's successes in the late 80s and early 90s and for starting the People Development programme. He was also a key factor in  PBS strategies and finance.  His many ideas and nationalistic tendencies caught the eye of the Federal Government who was worried that these, especially his outspoken views on the “20 points Malaysia Agreement” could threaten  the national security as he had awoken nationalism in the Kadazan Dusun.  He had been targeted for arrest for over a year and was finally arraigned in 1990 and detained for 30 months under the ISA. Upon his release and  return to Sabah in 1993, he was accorded a hero’s welcome by the people of Sabah.

 He convinced his elder brother Datuk Pairin to include him as a PBS candidate in the 1994 state election, a decision which has probably haunted Datuk Pairin ever since. What he did after PBS won a wafer thin majority in that election and subsequent actions indicated that his detention under ISA had a profound effect on his very thought processes. He still displayed his mettle for quick decisions in response to prevailing information which is one of the good qualities of  a CEO running a corporation, but is less suited to  political scenarios, where the many varied factors are so fluid and not so controllable. Because of his relative inexperience in politics, he made several political blunders which erased his good record in people’s mind as the  possible replacement for Datuk Pairin as the Sabah Leader. After the 1994 election, there was a lot of political maneuvering. When it became clear that PBS was going to lose its majority in the state assembly, Dr. Jeffrey was persuaded to join PBRS which had no Assembly representative and gave a rather thoughtless speech about abandoning a sinking ship, only to rebuff that party in favour of  forming his own, which he failed to register after several months. Eventually, he was persuaded to join Akar, a BN component party which was about to be deregistered, but his joining the party brought it back to headlines in the local newspapers. His presence there was not smooth sailing either, as there was a tussle between him and Datuk Pandikar Amin for control of the party and he left eventually with his supporters. After a while of being an independent, he rejoined PBS in 1998 and was again fielded as a candidate in the 1999 election, which he won. As mentioned earlier, he left PBS again later to rejoin BN through PBRS.

 We could say that as a corporate leader, Dr. Jeffrey had been very successful and probably would have been a successful politician if circumstances had been different. Of course there is not much we can do about these circumstances and as a brother you would like to see him succeed, just like Datuk Pairin.  Of course you would be affected by all that has happened and feel the pain of both brothers. We have been very lucky that as a family we have always been very close and tightly knit and the political differences have not diminished our family closeness.  When it comes to family, political rivalries take a back seat, and we do not discuss politics at home when we meet in our family meetings, which is very often.

Star Online Pix alt
NATURAL BOND...Dr Jeffrey adjusting Joseph`s headgear during the Kadazan-dusun cultural event last year. They refused to talk about what their future political plans are.(The Star Online Feb 3, 2002)

 As a brother, Dr. Jeffrey is also a warm and easy going person, and due to his younger age, is quite close to his younger siblings. He is very active and is always on the move and in my view can develop very close rapport with the people he deals with.  He has a different approach to people, being endeared to his many supporters because of his generosity and his invaluable advise and inputs in many of their dealings. In a way, we all feel that we would have been much better off had he concentrated on his business. Dr. Jeffrey is married to Datin Susan and he has 5 children.

The older two have finished their education. Jayson, the eldest son was employed by Chase Perdana Bhd for about a year before he left for another company involved in marketing.  The second eldest son, Jonathan is very much into computers and was working in one of Microsoft's associate companies for a while. The third son attends school at Seri Insan.

The PBRS debacle: see separate story.


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