By : FMT STAFF
KOTA KINABALU: State Reform Party (STAR) Chairman Jeffery Kitingan is facing criticism from within his party after a candidate he named for the Klias state constituency seat was charged with cheating.
The candidate, Jismit Japong, was charged in a magistrate court here on Thursday with cheating a man by impersonating as Sekong Umno assemblyman who is also Ko-Nelayan chairman.
The mortifying blow comes just three weeks after Jeffrey announced Jismit as the party’s candidate.
While Jismit pleaded not guilty to the charge and magistrate Cindy McJuce Balitus set April 17-18 for hearing of the case, Jeffrey’s colleagues in the party are questioning his judgment and want him to be more thorough in checking the backgrounds of the party’s potential candidates.
One divisional leader after requesting anonymity, told FMT that the STAR chairman’s way of handling the party matters especially on the selection of candidates was not going down well with those around him.
He said the recent development regarding Jismit proved that the STAR leadership needs to carefully vet candidates’ current and previous records before shortlisting them and announcing them as party candidates.
“We should have a foolproof shortlist of candidates. Already our enemies are spreading lies that STAR shortlisted candidates are also made up people of questionable integrity.
“We do not want to destroy our hard-earned respect from the people,” he stressed.
Jismit was released on a bail of RM5,000 in two local sureties.
The STAR leader was charged on Thursday for cheating Wong Shui Kin, 72, of RM70,000 in Kota Kinabalu in August 2012.
According to the charge sheet, Jismit impersonated Shamsudin and offered Wong two development projects to upgrade one road each in Kampung Gum-Gum, Sandakan and Merotai in Tawau,
Wong allegedly gave the money to Jismit.
If convicted under Section 419 of the Penal Code, Jismit faces a jail sentence of up to seven years or fine, or both.