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UBF co-founder Nilakrisna, joins UPKO

Penampang, Sabah—United Borneo Front (UBF) co-founder, Nilakrisna James, announced her decision in a press conference on Monday to join the Barisan Nasional (BN) component party, United PasokMomogun KadazanDusun Murut Organisation (UPKO). The press conference was held by UPKO President and Plantations Industries and Commodities Minister, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, together with key members of the UPKO Supreme Council.
“I will devote my energy and activism to UPKO in preparation of the 13th General Elections and intend to work with the party leadership to put in place the mechanism for the proper implementation of the Borneo Agenda within the established structures of the current BN ruling government. I will start this process from the UPKO base as they have subscribed to the Borneo Agenda during the time I promoted this concept with my fellow leaders in the UBF. It makes perfect sense for me to be with UPKO, where the genesis of my political roots began. While we respect that parties in Sabah will belong to separate alliances, we still have a deep sense of brotherhood amongst Sabahan politicians. That Sabah comes first and politics come second. It is UPKO, under the BN alliance, which I have decided best represents my political voice,” said Nilakrisna in her statement delivered at the UPKO headquarters.

She added, “Women are terribly under-represented in policy making around the world with only 19% of seats in national parliaments worldwide being held by women. This means that our voices are hardly heard when it comes to legislative reforms, negotiations and national agendas. If there is a change in the way we do things in this country it should start by having not only a fair and equitable representation of the Borneo voices in parliament but also an increase in the voices of capable women.”

On the future of UBF, she said, “Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan and I have discussed plans to revamp the entire structure of the UBF to allow for a committee of young and capable leaders to rise and assume a more proactive role in NGO activism as the aim has always been to identify fresh, young protégés who have a deep interest in political leadership and the Borneo history. A proper succession plan is the answer to the longevity of an organisation and young people must be willing to take over the baton. Once a leader is equipped with the knowledge of the Borneo Agenda and the struggles of the UBF, he or she must be willing to take this struggle into the political arena if called to do so by a sense of duty to the State and the country.”

Nilakrisna said that the continuation of the struggle in UBF must spread its wings across all political divides and reach the national consciousness in a positive way for it to be able to work and that it is only through politics that the solutions can be implemented through willing and credible leaders. “UBF is not a political party but a concept that talks about politics. It is meant to reach out to everybody, irrespective of their political affiliations, so that the people of Borneo will be better informed about their history, rights and promised safeguards at the time of the formation of Malaysia. Education lies at the heart of its core objectives. The Borneo Agenda is a cause that should be championed by every true Borneo politician who understands his or her roots. I will champion this cause through the Barisan Nasional.”

Nilakrisna, a lawyer and NGO activist, belongs to the Gunsanad political dynasty which has produced statesmen and leaders such as founding fathers OKK Sedomon Bin OKK Gunsanad and Datuk G. S. Sundang; former Head of State and Governor, Tun Ahmad Koroh; and Tan Sri Suffian Koroh. Owen Rutter described Sedomon’s father, Gunsanad, in 1929 as “one of the most powerful chiefs North Borneo has seen”, whose sister, Layomon, also produced the Aman political family which includes current Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman, Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman and former Minister, Datuk Ayub Aman.

 “UPKO was an amalgamation of Tun Fuad Stephens’ UNKO and the Gunsanad brothers’ Pasok Momogun parties prior to the formation of Malaysia. It is a natural choice for me to go into something which was co-founded by my grandfather, OKK Sedomon Gunsanad, and his brother, Datuk G.S. Sundang, who was a signatory to the Malaysia Agreement. Politics is in my blood, spanning four generations and it is my duty to carry on this tradition and legacy. We can only achieve a sincere solution to a united country if we believe in the sanctity of laws and agreements that sought to unite us in 1963. I believe that every State within this Federation should have equitable access to the nation’s wealth with the understanding that there are deliberate safeguards which were promised to the Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak and that if we work upon this premise in parliament, we will have greater understanding of the issues which are plaguing us in Borneo. Only then will we be ready to focus on other areas of national development and work in a culture of mutual respect and acceptance, not merely passive tolerance.”

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