Archive for the ‘History of Sabah.’ Category

A possible new Bornean hero

Saturday, July 8th, 2017
Man of distinction:Abang Johari’s view of Sarawak is complex, acknowledging the state as a crucial part of the Federation, but one that retains a political and cultural character as far removed as its geography from Putrajaya.

Man of distinction:Abang Johari’s view of Sarawak is complex, acknowledging the state as a crucial part of the Federation, but one that retains a political and cultural character as far removed as its geography from Putrajaya.

The Sarawak Chief Minister plans to preserve his state’s special identity, and stresses that it has a different culture from Peninsular Malaysia.

SARAWAK Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg is a sort of Bornean hero to many of my fellow Sabahans.

When Abang Jo, as he is fondly known in Sarawak, announced on Saturday that he would send a team of lawyers to London to search for and study any references related to the state’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), many Sabahans hailed him as a hero.

I first saw Abang Jo in action during the 2001 Sarawak polls. He was campaigning to defend Satok, a state seat in Kuching. Even at the time, he was mentioned as one of the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) leaders who might take over from Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud as CM.

And yet he didn’t grab the CM post, but waited for fate to give it to him.

In 2014, when Taib retired, Abang Johari conceded that Tan Sri Adenan Satem would take over as Sarawak Chief Minister.

“When Adenan was chosen by Taib to take over from him, Abang Johari took it calmly and gave immediate support to Adenan,” recalled Kota Samarahan municipal council chairman Datuk Peter Minos, who has been with PBB since the 1960s.

“Abang Jo was deputy president of PBB and Adenan was publicity chief, but his loyalty to PBB are second to none.

“PBB is in his family’s blood. His dad (Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee, who was a former Sarawak governor) helped create PBB.”

On Jan 11, Adenan died and Abang Johari took over as Chief Minister.

Last week, I was in Kuching to interview the 66-year-old politician, with my Sarawakian colleagues Sharon Ling and Geryl Ogilvy. The Star Media Group interviewed Abang Johari at his residence in Petra Jaya, adjacent to Kuching city.

The first question I posed was: “Is it a blessing or a curse for Sarawak to be Barisan Nasional’s fixed deposit?”

“The question depends on the response from the people,” he said. “But so far Sarawakians know we need a very stable government.”

Abang Johari went on to talk about the cultural differences between Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur (which is how Sarawakians and Sabahans refer to Peninsular Malaysia).

“That is why Tok Nan (the nickname of Adenan) banned certain personalities from entering Sarawak. I will continue the same thing, as the culture in Peninsular Malaysia is different,” he said.

“For instance, our religious tolerance is high. We don’t have these so-called religious … Adenan used ‘bigots’ … to really spoil the way we live here.

“In terms of concept, we follow BN’s concept but we must preserve our special Sarawak identity.

“We are lucky our past leaders did not give away all Immigration power. Until today we want to preserve that power so that we can make use of it.

“If we feel somebody may jeopardise the racial relations among us, we will use that power,” he said.

Abang Johari continued: “So, to answer your question, it is neither one (a blessing or curse). It depends on how Sarawak manages itself.”

“Is Sarawak a country or a state?” I asked.

“It is very difficult for me to answer your question because under the Malaysia Agreement, there were four parties that signed it,” said Abang Johari, referring to Malaya, Sarawak, North Borneo and Singapore.

“I used to say (Datuk Seri) Najib Tun Razak and I have a stake in it, because his father signed it and my father signed it.

“Definitely, we have to comply with what is stated in the Malaysia Agreement,” he said, referring to Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Abang Openg.

(On July 9, 1963, the Malaysia Agreement was concluded between Britain, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, which led to the formation of Malaysia.)

“Of course, through the years – knowingly or unknowingly – our people also agreed to give back certain areas to KL, but we have to protect our side.

“To give you a point to answer your question”, said Abang Jo, “the other states in Peninsular Malaysia manage their states based on the executive council system.”

“They have no ministers. Only Sabah and Sarawak have a Cabinet system with ministers.

“When we formed Malaysia together with Singapore, we had our own Cabinet system. If you study it from that angle, we are separate. We are only subjects under KL because we are a federation.

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Indigenous people of Sabah, Taiwan share similarities

Friday, June 16th, 2017


Dr Puad (left) and Chen signing the LoI as Dr Low ( second row, fifth right) looks on.

KOTA KINABALU: The indigenous people of Sabah and Taiwan share lots of similarities in their cultural heritage.

And both sides have decided to carry out studies to establish the facts through a collaboration between Borneo Heritage Research Unit (BoHRU), Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Heritage (FHAH) of Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA), Taoyuan City Government, Taiwan.

The cooperation between UMS and DIA were forged when both sides signed a letter of intent (LoI). During the simple signing ceremony, UMS was represented by FHAH Deputy Dean, Dr Mohd Puad Bebit while Deputy Director-General, Chen Cheng-Hsiung signed on behalf of DIA at UMS yesterday.

BoHRU Head Associate Professor, Dr Low Kok On said the letter was just a beginning, and would get to know session before they follow up with a memorandum of understanding agreement.

“We understand that both of the indigenous people have a lot in common with their cultures however no actual studies were undertaken.

“So, now we want to carry out the studies and do the comparison because whatever we heard so far are only theories as we don’t have evidence to prove it,” said Dr Low.

“Through this cooperation we hope to collect the evidence so that we can preserve this cultural heritage for the future generations,” added Dr Low.

Chen said they were on a mission to conduct fact-finding as their objective is to establish a museum in Taiwan to preserve the cultural heritage of the indigenous people.


Detailed study for LRT system in KK: Mayor

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The Government is looking into a study for a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in the city, said Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai (pic).

“However, there must be effectiveness and economic returns. If it is not economically viable, I feel the project would not have any benefit also.

“So let the Federal Government through the Economic Planning Unit do a detailed study first to deliberate not only for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) but also the LRT. This (study) will commence soon.

“Then we will look at the reports and evaluate the effectiveness of implementing the LRT in the city.”

Yeo said this to the media, Thursday, in reply to the statement by Inanam Assemblyman Dr Roland Chia that the city needs LRT service.

He noted that Chia’s statement on the LRT was only Chia’s personal opinion as there was also a need to take into account various other evaluation factors besides population size.

On April 11, Chia insisted that Kota Kinabalu needs to have LRT or Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) service to overcome the city’s traffic congestion, and that it did not have to wait until the city’s population reaches one million.

He noted that previously, the Government had said there was no plan to provide the LRT or MRT service to the public as the population of Kota Kinabalu had not reached one million.

Chia said many other cities such as in Australia and the United Kingdom provided the service to the public on the basis of need, not on population size.

Chia thus urged the State Government to do the same and proposed a review of the Railway Ordinance so that legislation could be widened to incorporate the LRT which is needed to overcome traffic congestion.

On May 23, it was also reported that neighbouring Sarawak was looking to finance its own LRT project with services linking Kuching, Samarahan and Serian without direct funding from the Federal Government.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said the full public transport system covering the three divisions will be an integrated one, with the LRT as the core and complemented by the BRT, taxis and cars.

by Neil Chan.

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Filipino group wanted to use force to claim Sabah

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Putra Jaya: The nine Filipinos who were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for their involvement in the Lahad Datu intrusion tried to use force to claim Sabah as theirs, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.

DPP Wan Shaharuddin said there were negotiations between the Malaysian security forces and that leaflets had been distributed around Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, Sabah, from helicopter asking the intruders to lay down their arms and to surrender to the police.

“The negotiations went sour. They chose not to leave and follow the instructions of the authorities.

Instead they were ready for bloodshed and war,” said Wan Shaharuddin.

“Thus, they should be sentenced to death for their role in waging war against the Yang Dipertuan Agong,” added DPP Wan Shaharuddin in hearings before a three-man Court of Appeal panel chaired by Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh.

Justices Abdul Rahman Sebli and Kamardin Hashim were also on the panel.

The panel is hearing the appeal filed against the sentences handed down by Kota Kinabalu High Court judge Justice Stephen Chung last year to nine Filipinos for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Section 121 of the Penal Code.

The nine are Julham Rashid, 70, Virgilio Nemar Patulada @ Mohammad Alam Patulada, 53, Salib Akhmad Emali, 64, Tani Lahad Dahi, 64, Basad Manuel, 42, the son of the late self proclaimed Sultan Sulu Jamalul Kiram, Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 54, Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 46, Al Wazir Osman @ Abdul, 62, and Ismail Yasin, 77.

Meanwhile, DPP Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud who is also the Deputy Head of the Appellate and Trial Division, submitted that it was not a case where a village boy killed another village boy.

DPP Awang Armadajaya said this case would result in war between two countries as it involved the sovereignty of the country and its people.

Nine members of the Malaysian security forces were killed in the intrusion, which occurred between Feb 12 and Apr 10 2013. He said the appeal proceedings were held in Putrajaya due to security concerns.

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Still mixed feelings 41 years on

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The 41st anniversay of the Double Six tragedy that claimed the lives of first Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and several members of his Cabinet, among others, saw next-of-kin calling for closure but the opposition saying any closure is possible only if the Government releases the full report into the June 6, 1976 Nomad air crash.

Upko Secretary General Datuk Donald Mojuntin who lost his dad Datuk Peter Mojuntin in the crash urged that the tragedy not be politicised further as the affected families have already come to closure on the matter.

“I hope this matter is not politicised and from what I have seen the last few days there seem to be a lot of questions and answers.

“It is my hope that people will come to commemorate their passing positively. Whatever that comes out from it must be positive.

“As much as each member of the families would like to know what happened that day, I think the families have come to a closure on the issue but a lot of people still seem to be asking us the same questions,” he said, after a wreath laying ceremony and visit to the memorial gallery at Grace Point, Sembulan.

Stephens, along with Finance Minister Salleh Sulong, Minister of Local Government and Housing Peter Mojuntin, Works and Communication Minister Chong Thien Vun, Asst Minister to the CM Datuk Darius Binion and several other top government officials were flying from Labuan back to Kota Kinabalu when their Nomad plane crashed into Sembulan waters.

After investigations, then Deputy Communication Minister Mohd Ali M Sharif announced that the crash was due to “human error” but the full findings were classified as a state secret under the Official Secrets Act.

Donald said he was happy that the memorial ceremony by City Hall and State Government is continuing and should be so because the leaders in the tragedy were some of the State’s pioneer political leaders.

“I was only 11 then and I remember my dad as a father. As a politician I did not know him actually.

“But from what I have read and heard from elders he was a great man including Stephens, Datuk Darius Binion, Datuk Chong Thien Vun and Datuk Salleh Sulong (and others).

“They were all good people that tried their best for the State and tried to represent the respective races in the State with the greatest of dignity.

“Unfortunately once they were voted in as the government, over a month later God saw it fit to give them a rest from the world.

“But as I said earlier we must take the positives out of it. We must look at all the efforts that they untiringly underwent to make sure that the Sabah that we have today exists.

“If not for them the political awareness and involvement and relevance of Sabah will not be as great as it is now.

“So there are a lot of positives to be taken out of it and my hope is that the younger generations will come here and get to know a little bit of their own history by visiting the gallery and perhaps get inspired and be great leaders in the own right in the years to come.

Gabungan Sabah members, consisting of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah also visited the Double Six Monument to remember those who perished.

by Neil Chan.

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The rice festival of Sabah

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Not so very long almost all the natives of Sabah used to grow rice. The Pesta Kaamatan is Sabah’s very own, rice harvest festival. Planting of rice was the mainstay of their diet and there were many taboos and customs regulating the planting of rice to ensure a bountiful crop in the old days.

As most of our people have now converted to various other religions, most have forgotten about the true meaning of the rice harvest Festival. In the old days it was a form of giving thanks to the Rice Spirit “Bambarayon or Bambazzon for an abundant harvest and to ensure that they would have another successful rice crop the following year.

It used to be celebrated during the full moon after the rice harvest in each village. In the old days only one crop of rice would be grown in a year and it was extremely important that the crop was bountiful. This was especially true with the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut people, who were all growers of rice in Sabah. They each had their own social orders and religious belief systems in which the female Bobohizans ( Traditional Priestesses of Sabah) played the most important role.

Historically, the British Colonial office of Sabah (North Borneo in the old days) finally condescended in declaring a 2-day Public Holiday to the natives after their leaders asked for it. (OKK Sodomon of Bingkor, Keningau, is the main person main accredited with this as he was the main local leader who approached the Colonial Government for this holiday.)

Today this festival of the rice harvest is celebrated on a very grand scale on the 30th and 31st of May annually at the KDCA ( Kadazan Dusun cultural Centre.) However in the old days the festival would usually have been celebrated in the village by bobohizans performing ceremonies to the rice spirit followed by much feasting and merry making.

Today this has evolved into a 2 day affaire with mainly cultural performances from the various tribes in Sabah together with competition’s of traditional games on the first day and it closes on the second day with the selection of the fairest maiden as the harvest queen (Unduk Ngadau). It is still all accompanied with much merry making.

In recent times, the Harvest queen competition has in many ways, come to be considered as the highlight of the whole festival but If you want a glimpse of Sabah’s many ethnic people, their colourful costumes, music and dance, its best to go to the celebration on the first day.

by David de la Harpe.

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DBKK has no power to remove Atkinson Clock Tower – Mayor

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) does not have the power to remove the 112-year-old Atkinson Clock Tower, said Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai.

“DBKK has no power to relocate. I don’t know where you get that idea from. Nobody can,” he stressed in response to a question posed by the media here yesterday.

“The Atkinson Clock tower is gazetted as a cultural heritage. (The gazette was) administered by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment. So it is independent by itself.

“Any building that is intended to be built around it has has nothing to do with the Atkinson Clock Tower. Nobody can remove the Atkinson Clock Tower,” he reiterated.

Recently, various parties from different quarters have voiced their concern regarding the development of an 18-storey hotel and shopping mall in the immediate vicinity of the Atkinson Clock Tower.

The mayor stressed that approvals made by DBKK have to go through the state government.

“It is up to the state government to decide otherwise. That’s all,” he concluded.

Luyang assemblyman Dr Hiew King Cheu has proposed to relocate Atkinson Tower to elsewhere after approval was given to the project.

Hiew said City Hall was thinking about moving the structure from its present location, adjacent to Padang Merdeka although a new site has not been finalised.

DAP Luyang Coordinator Phoong Jin Zhe described such suggestion is ridiculous and unacceptable.

Phoong said that the the oldest standing structure in the city should be conserved at its original location as a national heritage structure. It should not be moved away nor demolished for the sake of development.

He also stressed that the government should relook into the plan to build the 18-storey building next to clock tower as it could possibly affect the historic value of nearby heritage structures.

Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM), Sabah Chapter has reiterated its view that all heritage sites that have been gazetted in Sabah, including the Atkinson Clock Tower and Padang Merdeka, should be  treasured and protected.

PAM Sabah also strongly objected to the construction of the proposed multi-storey commercial building on a site sandwiched between the Atkinson Clock Tower and Padang Merdeka.

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Australia honours contributions, sacrifices of Sabahans

Friday, April 28th, 2017


Pairin (front row centre), Smith (front row fifth left), Yeo (front row fourth right) and others in front of the War Memorial

KOTA KINABALU: Australia remembers and honours the contributions and sacrifices made by Sabahans who helped the Australian prisoners of war in World War 2.

Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Rod Smith said that apart from remembering and honouring the service and sacrifice of the country’s soldiers in Sabah on ANZAC Day every year, Australia also acknowledges the support from Sabahans who risked their lives to help the solders.

“Every year on ANZAC Day and again on Sandakan Day which is August 15, we hold a memorial service in Sandakan Memorial Park to commemorate the service and sacrifice of not just the Australian and British soldiers but also the locals,” he said when met at the Laying of Wreath ceremony in conjunction with ANZAC Day celebration at the War Memorial here on Wednesday.

According to Smith, Australia and Sabah have a very strong connection as many Australian soldiers had served in Sabah during the World War 2 (WW2), and many lost their lives.

“It is good that we are able to recognise that out of the sacrifice and hardships that were endured by those soldiers in the WW2, grew a very, very strong friendship between Australia and Sabah,” he added.

Meanwhile Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman at the event, said that it is important to commemorate the sacrifice made by those soldiers on ANZAC Day.

“We are here to honour the fighters who had lost their lives fighting for our freedom in the first and Second World War, and they include soldiers from Australia and New Zealand.

“We must remember this day (ANZAC Day) because while we are enjoying our freedom and peace now, sometimes we forget that it was not easily earned, and without those brave people, we would not have this peace and prosperity.


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‘2 Malaysian hostages expected to return home soon’

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The two Malaysian seamen who were freed by their kidnappers after being held hostage for eight months are expected to return home in due time.

Sabah Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Razarudin Husain said Tayudin Anjut and Abdurahim Sumas would be brought home soon with the cooperation of their Philippine counterparts.

“The Royal Malaysia Police are working closely with our Philippine counterparts to bring both men back home and they are expected to arrive safely soon,” he said at the 210th Police Day celebration at the State Police Headquarters in Kepayan yesterday.

Tayudin, 45, and Abdurahim, 62, were abandoned by Abu Sayyaf gunmen before dawn near their coastal forest hideout on the remote island of Pata.

They were found in a weak and sick state by a Philippine Navy patrol boat, eight months after they were abducted along with three other crewmen, Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23, Fandy Bakran, 26, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from a tugboat that was stormed by gunmen near the sea borders between Sabah and Philippine waters.

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CIDB questions standard of raw materials

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah’s quest for a quake-resistant building code has left the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) questioning its implementation, especially the standard of raw materials.

CIDB’s Material Division Senior Manager Rosmen Hassan (pic) said there’s a grey area behind Sabah’s move for a code when the types of materials used are not of the prescribed standards set under the amended CIDB Act 520.

The Act 520 now calls for builders to adhere to the standards set under Schedule 4 and the material is endorsed with the Certification of Standard Compliance (PPS).

Those who flout the law could face fines of up to RM500,000.

“During our roadshows to promote the amendments to Act 520, we have been informed by those in the industry and Customs here over the changes of raw materials.

“For example, experts here have proposed the use of the deformed steel bars to Type C G500 instead of the Type A and B,” he said during his presentation titled Regulating Construction Materials and Products on the second day of the Sabah Construction Fair 2017.

Although the Type C steel bar is of a higher quality and more expensive, Rosmen questioned the code’s implementation of using materials outside the prescribed standards.

The amended CIDB Act was enforced on Dec 1, 2015, to expand the scope of the board from just looking into the areas of construction workers and levy, but standardise construction materials.

Before the amendment, the construction industry was largely unregulated in terms of raw materials, giving an opportunity for contractors to use substandard materials.

Recent disasters such as the collapse of the second Penang Bridge in 2015 and the RM100 million property damages caused by the Ranau earthquake in 2015 were among reasons why there was a need for Act 520 to be amended, said Rosmen.

The amendments had paved a bigger role for CIDB to control the quality of construction materials used due to the use of the PPS certification.

by Jason Santos.

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