KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 5: Outspoken Sabah politician Tan Sri Bernard Dompok today has announced that he is stepping down as United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko ) president effective March 21.
“I have informed the party committee on this matter (his resignation) on February 21,” he told reporters during a press conference at Kampung Putaton today.
Dompok, who has led the party since 1994, said that it was not an easy decision and several parties asked him to stay.
“… but the time has come for me to pass the baton to the new echelon of leaders
“By overstaying leaders can stunt the growth of a party
“I do not want this to happen,” said the 64-year-old veteran politician.
The resignation also witnessed his deputy Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau taking over the party leadership as an acting president.
Dompok’s political career started in 1985 with the then fledgling Parti Bersatu Sabah led by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan that toppled the Berjaya government of Datuk Harris Salleh.
However, Dompok left PBS with many senior leaders to form Party Democratic Sabah (later renamed Upko) as the three-week old PBS government collapsed in a spate of defections after the 1994 state elections.
In the 1999 state elections, Dompok, who was then chief minister, was defeated in his Moyog state seat though Barisan Nasional won the state elections.
He later moved base from his Penampang base to Ranau parliament seat where he successfully won Ranau in the 1999 general election after which he was made a federal minister.
He returned to Penampang in 2008 general election but lost the seat in 2013.
Dompok is widely credited for his outspoken views of state rights and religious issues and was instrumental in getting the Kadazandusun language introduced as a subject in schools in Sabah.