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Joseph Kurup

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Joseph Kurup
Ministerial roles
2008–2010Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development
2010–2013Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
2013–2018Minister in the Prime Minister's Department
Ministerial roles (Sabah)
1985–1986Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
1986–1990Deputy Chief Minister
1986–1990Minister of Communications, Infrastructure and Works
1990–1994Minister of Finance
1994–1999Deputy Chief Minister
1994–1997Minister of Industrial Development and Trade
1997–1999Minister of Human Resources, Education, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurial Development
2002–2004Minister of Youth and Sports
Faction represented in Dewan Rakyat
2008–2018Barisan Nasional
Faction represented in Sabah State Legislative Assembly
1985–1990Barisan Nasional
1990–1994United Sabah Party
1994–1999Barisan Nasional
2002–2008Barisan Nasional
Personal details
Born(1944-12-15)15 December 1944
Keningau, Japanese-occupied North Borneo (now Sabah, Malaysia)
Died17 April 2024(2024-04-17) (aged 79)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Political partyParti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)
Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS)
Other political
Barisan Nasional (BN)
(1986–2018, 2022–2024)
Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)
SpouseMelinda Mak Soak Fong
Children6 (including Arthur)

Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Kurup (15 December 1944 – 17 April 2024) was a Malaysian politician who served as 1st and founding President of the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), a component party of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition from March 1994 to January 2023, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development in the BN administration under former Prime Ministers Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak from March 2008 to May 2018. He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Pensiangan from March 2008 to May 2018. He also served as Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, State Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, State Minister of Communications and Works, State Minister of Finance, State Minister of Industrial Development, State Minister of Resource Development and Enterprise and State Minister of Youth and Sports of Sabah under former Chief Ministers Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Sakaran Dandai, Salleh Said Keruak, Yong Teck Lee, Bernard Giluk Dompok, Osu Sukam, Chong Kah Kiat and Musa Aman in the BN state administration from 1985 to 2004. He was a founding member of the PBRS and was a member of the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS). He was also the father of Arthur Joseph Kurup, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Pensiangan MP and PBRS President. Kurup died in Kuala Lumpur on 17 April 2024, at the age of 79.[1]

Sabah state politics (1985–2008)[edit]

Kurup was a member of the United Sabah Party (PBS) when it was founded in 1985. In the 1985 election he won the seat of Sook in the Sabah State Legislative Assembly and the PBS, led by Joseph Pairin Kitingan, toppled the BN-BERJAYA government of Harris Salleh. Over the following nine years, Kurup served as a minister in Kitingan's government.[2]

In 1994, Joseph Kitingan's government came to an end after a series of defections from the PBS to BN. Kurup was one of the leaders of the defectors, setting up the PBRS, gaining admission for the new party to the BN coalition, and winning appointment as Deputy Chief Minister in the new BN state government. In 1999, Kurup faced his first electoral test since the defection in which he suffered a double defeat when he lost to Joseph Kitingan in the federal seat of Keningau, as did Kitingan's younger brother, Jeffrey Kitingan of PBS too in the State Assembly seat of Bingkor. Jeffrey had left the PBS to join the PBRS in 1999[3] and he had challenged Kurup for the PBRS presidency in 2002, but Kurup managed to survive after a decision by the Registrar of Societies. It was not until the 2004 elections, after the PBS had also joined the BN, when Kurup returned to an elected position, winning back the State Assembly seat of Sook in the Pensiangan electorate of the Keningau district.

Federal politics (2008–2018)[edit]

Kurup was elected to the federal Parliament in the 2008 general election, giving up his State Assembly seat to replace PBRS Secretary-General Bernard Maraat as the party's candidate in the seat of Pensiangan.[4][5] He was elected unopposed after the People's Justice Party (PKR) candidate had been unable to submit his nomination on time. PKR challenged Kurup's election in court, but Kurup prevailed.[6][7]

After his re-election, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi appointed Kurup as Deputy Minister for Rural and Regional Development. He then later became the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, during a minor cabinet reshuffle in 2010, just into one year of Najib's accession to the premiership in 2009. After defending his seat in the 2013 general elections, he was promoted as a full cabinet minister, as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs and national unity (ex officio minister in charge of non-Muslim and minority affairs as well as affairs relating to the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak).[8][9] After 33 years in politics, Kurup decided not to participate in the 2018 general election to pass the duty of defending his Pensiangan parliament seat to his son, Arthur Joseph Kurup.[10]

President of Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (1994–2023)[edit]

On 12 February 2022 during the opening of third triennial convention of PBRS, he spoke that PBRS needed more seats, Senator and nominated member of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly (MLA) positions to work efficiently as a political party and warned that PBRS could not grow stronger and contribute more for BN if it was left out in many aspects by speaking that "due to the pressure from our grassroots and in our efforts to strengthen the party, it is important that PBRS is given a bigger role to play". He also added that PBRS made the requests to the BN secretariat during the 2020 Sabah state election, but it was disappointed that no nominated MLA from PBRS had been appointed. He also noted that the current political scene was moving towards to the youth but it was also important that veterans leaders not to be sidelined. On the issues of illegal immigrant of Sabah, he urged the federal government to intervene and help mitigate the rising cost of living woes faced by the people in Sabah and disagreed that the proposed special card for foreigners could solve the long-standing issue. In response, BN Chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who was also in attendance said that PBRS was never sidelined and would always be given priority it deserved and revealed that he "had given Sabah BN the power to manage its matters, so Sabah BN Chairman Bung Moktar Radin would handle the things here". On 7 January 2023, he stepped down as the 1st PBRS president after helming the party from its formation in 1994 to 2023 for 29 years, party deputy president and his son Arthur Joseph Kurup took over as the 2nd party president.[11]

Election results[edit]

Parliament of Malaysia[12]
Year Constituency Candidate Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1999 P180 Keningau Joseph Kurup (PBRS) 12,533 49.51% Joseph Pairin Kitingan (PBS) 12,783 50.49% 25,602 250 64.05%
2008 P182 Pensiangan Joseph Kurup (PBRS)
2013 Joseph Kurup (PBRS) 9,467 45.31% Richard Sakian Gunting (PKR) 7,723 36.95% 21,391 1,744 81.66%
Martin Tomy @ Tommy (STAR) 3,554 17.01%
Fatimah Agitor @ Mohd Daud (IND) 152 0.73%
Sabah State Legislative Assembly[13]
Year Constituency Candidate Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1999 N28 Bingkor Joseph Kurup (PBRS) 4,871 35.75% Jeffrey Kitingan (PBS) 8,339 61.19% 13,744 3,468 72.30%
Kuilan Anggau (BERSEKUTU) 395 2.90%
Peter Kodou (IND) 22 0.16%
2004 N37 Sook Joseph Kurup (PBRS) 3,973 50.90% Jeffrey Kitingan (IND) 3,578 45.83% 7,984 395 70.53%


Honours of Malaysia[edit]


  1. ^ "PBRS founder Joseph Kurup dies". Free Malaysia Today. 17 April 2024. Retrieved 17 April 2024.
  2. ^ "Kurup dares Pairin to debate". New Sabah Times. 23 January 2009. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  3. ^ Political Handbook of the World 2014. CQ Press. 891.
  4. ^ "The Kurup and Jeffrey showdown may not happen". Daily Express. 15 February 2008. Archived from the original on 21 June 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Good Showing By Sabah BN's New Faces in General Election". Bernama. 9 March 2008. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Election Petition Nullified, Kurup Now Focuses on Helping Pensiangan People". Bernama. 13 March 2008. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2010. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Joe Fernandez (13 March 2009). "No by-election in Pensiangan". Malaysiakini. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  8. ^ Muguntan Vanar (16 April 2013). "GE13: Joseph Kurup will defend Pensiangan seat". The Star. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Kurup". Department of National Unity and Integration (Malaysia). Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Kurup decides to stay out". Daily Express. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Joseph Kurup steps down as PBRS president, his son Arthur takes over". The Star. 7 January 2023. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  12. ^ "Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum Parlimen/Dewan Undangan Negeri". Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Percentage figures based on total turnout (including votes for candidates not listed).
  13. ^ "N32 Tambunan". Malaysiakini. Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  14. ^ "SEMAKAN PENERIMA DARJAH KEBESARAN, BINTANG DAN PINGAT". Prime Minister's Department (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2021.