Friday, May 30, 2008

Mirror,Mirror On The Wall....

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who's The Fairest of Them All?

The month-long Harvest or Kaamatan Festival celebrated throughout Sabah beginning May 1 is drawing to a close. The Hongkod Koisaan, headquarters building of the Kadazan-Dusun Culural Association (KDCA) along Penampang Road in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah is where the action is from May 29-31.

As usual, the most-awaited programme or highlight of the State-level Harvest 'do' is the beauty contest to select the Kadazan-Dusun beauty queen or Unduk Ngadau. 36 local beauties representing their districts from all over Sabah will vie for the coveted title. Apart from fame and cash prizes, the winner will get a scholarship to study at the Asia Tourism Institute (ATI) in Kota Kinabalu.

Previous Unduk Ngadaus since the early 1960s have gone on to become successful professionals in their chosen fields, including singing, acting or even business. Some of course ended up marrying the most eligible bachelors (no offence meant). One of the past Unduk Ngadau is Daphne Iking, now a well-known TV personality in Malaysia.

So, who is it going to be this year? The answer will be known tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, take you pick. Above are all 36 of the hopefuls. Click on the images to enlarge. Pictures courtesy of New Sabah Times.

Once again, Happy Harvest Festival or, in the Kadazan-Dusun language - Kotobian Tagazo Do Kaamatan!

Despite my statement yesterday that I will only continue blogging after the Kaamatan holidays, I feel that I would be failing in my duty if I don't report this one. After all, in my younger days, I used to take pictures of them every year. But not now. People may look at me with all kinds of speculations, like what is this old man doing among the young photographers?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Happy Harvest Festival!

It has been 10 days since I last blogged. I promise to go full steam again after the Harvest Festival or Kaamatan holidays in Sabah (May 30-31). In the meantime let me enjoy my holidays.

To all my readers and friends: Kotobian Tagazo Do Kaamatan!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pak Lah's Reaction to Dr M

Just a while ago, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or Pak Lah gave his reaction to the sudden resignation of his predecessor Dr Mahathir from UMNO, Malaysia's largest political party and backbone of its ruling coalition BN.

The following is his reaction, as reported by The Star, Malaysia's leading English tabloid daily:-

"Meanwhile, Abdullah said he was shocked by the decision and, despite their differences, had not expected him to leave.

However, the beleaguered premier said he would stay on and fight for the party.

Perhaps some other members might leave too, but this won't entirely affect the party. It all depends on whether the rest want to stay on and continue to fight for the party too."

Mahathir Quits UMNO

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) today dropped a bombshell when he announced that he is quitting the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), the backbone of the ruling National Front (BN) coalition.

Mahathir, popularly known among Malaysians as Dr M, made the surprise announcement when addressing a crowd of about 1,000 people, mostly UMNO members, in his homestate of Kedah in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

Dr M, who was the country's PM and UMNO president for 22 years, had earlier in his speech urged party members to quit UMNO as a protest against Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's continued leadership of the party and government.

A party member then asked him if he would be the first one to leave. Saying that it sounded like a challenge, Dr M said he would and effective immediately.

Urging UMNO members to follow him, he however added the idea is not to join other parties but to return to the party after Pak Lah is no longer at the helm. Dr M handed over the premiership and party leadership to Abdullah, popularly known as Pak Lah, in late 2003.

Dr M was initially quite supportive of Pak Lah. After all, the latter was his chosen successor, over Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is now Pak Lah's deputy. However, Dr M started criticising the policies and leadership of Pak Lah after the 2004 election,

Pak Lah had led the BN into a victorious national election, said to be even bigger than that achieved by Dr M in 1999; having recaptured Terengganu state from the Opposition and secured more parliamentary seats.

"With this big mandate given by the electorate, Pak Lah was finally able to walk out of the shadow of his former boss and started changing some of Dr M's policies, even scrapping or delaying some of the big projects started by Dr M. This angered Dr M," said a political observer.

Dr M's attacks on his successor intensified after Pak Lah led the BN into a near-disastrous showing in the recent Malaysian election, whereby BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament and lost five of Malaysia's 13 states to the Opposition.

This would be Dr M's 2nd exit from UMNO. In 1969, he was saked by then UMNO president and Prime Miniter Tengku Abdul Rahman. However, Tengku's successor Tun Razak (Najib's father) took him back in 1972 and later even made him a Minister. After Razak died in 1976, his succesor Tun Hussein Onn (Razak's brother-in-law) chose Dr M as his deputy. In 1981, Dr M took over from Hussein as both PM and UMNO president.

It is not clear if Dr M's son, Datuk Mukriz, an UMNO Member of Parliament, would follow his father's move. Mukriz had announced that he would contest the UMNO Youth Chief post in December currently held by Datuk Hishamuddin, Hussein's son and Najib's cousin. Hisham would not defend the post.

On of the earliest die-hard Dr M followers to also announce that he is quitting UMNO is former Kedah Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) and former Malaysian Minister Tan Sri Sanusi Junid.

Former Finance Minister and Kelantan royalty, Tengku Razaleigh, who challenged Dr M for the UMNO presidency in 1987 but failed, this afternoon denied rumours that he would also follow suit. He said he will stay on to challenge Pak Lah for the UMNO presidency in December.

The whole nation would be watching over the next few days on who else would follow Dr M's footsteps and the effects it might have on UMNO. Some of Pak Lah's supporters have, understandably, described Dr M's exit as 'good riddence'.

Let's wait and see.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

You Have Won My Respect, Anifah

Yes, you have won my respect, Datuk. I am referring to Datuk Anifah Aman (picture), the Malaysian Member of Parliament for Kimanis in Sabah.

The former Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (1999-2008) made news after the March 8 election when he declined the Prime Minister's offer to be made the new Transport Minister.

Yesterday he made news again when he delivered a speech in Parliament. To cut the long story short, he made a very good speech which should please his fellow Sabahans. He fought for their rights when he spoke on a variety of issues ranging from asking for more oil royalty for Sabah to better job opportunities for Sabahans in the federal administration and government-linked companies.

Nothing wrong with that. After all, it is the job of an MP to fight for his constituency and his home State. But what was 'wrong' was that he is a government backbencher and, more importantly, a brother of Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman who is also the Chairman of both Sabah BN and UMNO which is the ruling party in Malaysia.

"While there is nothing wrong for an MP to fight for his area and state, certain things that Anifah said were certainly not what one would normally expect to have come from the brother of the UMNO Supreme Council member (Musa)," a political observer pointed out.

The observer was apparently referring to Anifah's reported statement in Parliament that there was no harm in BN MPs in Sabah defecting to the Opposition. He even said it was not wrong to "vacate a bungalow and move into a terraced house if we are not given sufficient room in the bungalow."

"Let it be, even if it were a terraced house. We will all enjoy the same facilities. Even when we live in a bungalow, we still live by the toilet," he stressed.

The "bungalow, terraced house" phrase was used by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi when he asked Anifah, who is a 3rd term MP, whether he agreed it was pointless to move out of a bungalow (BN), and move into a terraced house (Opposition).

Anifah retorted: "I agree. What is the use of switching from a big house to a small house? But, if there is no room for us in the big house, what's wrong with it (moving to small house)? Therefore, certain people must take the appropriate action because we have contributed many seats (in the election) for many terms. Do not marginalise us."

Apart from the provocation by Zahid, Anifah must have been irked by what he said he couldn't unerstand why Sabah elected representatives were targeted each time the issue of party crossovers were raised by the Opposition or the BN.

And he gave Zahid a taste of his own medicine when he said sacastically : "We are only a handful of people in Sabah. Why the concern when a few people want to cross over when, in the Peninsular (Malaysia), tens of thousands of people have switched camps?," he asked, referring to Kelantan, Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor which are now under Opposition rule.

As if for the record, however, Anifah concluded: "Before the Opposition gets excited, I myself have no intention to cross over."

My Say:
Congratulations, Datuk! As a Sabahan, I am proud of you. Keep up the good work. Sabah needs brave leaders like you to speak up for them in Parliament, and not 'yes men' or cowards. You have just won my respect. This is not to say that I did not respect you before, but now I respect you even more.

You did the right thing (including declining the deputy ministership for a 3rd term), despite being the Chief Minister's brother. To illustrate my point, even the Johore Menteri Besar Datuk Ghani Othman today supported your statement.

Ghani, who is also UMNO Supreme Council member, described your statement as "a manifestation of what needs to be done to meet the expectations of Sabahans." He added: "I think he (Anifah) is speaking on behalf of the people of Sabah on the need to fulfill the expectations of the people of Sabah."

Let us hope that there will be more Sabah leaders like Anifah in Kuala Lumpur.

(For more reports of Anifah's speech, please visit the on-line Malaysian or Sabah newspapers as listed on the left.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sabah TV3 Team Wins Award

The Sabah TV3 team comprising broadcast journalist Elphege P Godomon and cameraman Mohammed Yazzer Mahmun had won the TV Journalism category of the 2007 Malaysian Press Institute (MPI)-Petronas Malaysian Press Awards.

Kota Kinabalu-based Elphege and Yazzer received their award from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the 2008 Malaysian Press Night in Kuala Lmpur recently. They took home a cash prize of RM7,000 and a certificate of appreciation.

To make their victory sweeter, they were joined by their Kuala Lumpur-based colleague Karam Singh Walia who won in the Environment Journalism (Electronic Media) category. Karam is no stranger to viewers of TV3 news bulletins. He is perhaps the best known broadcast journalist specialising in environmental issues and he amuses his audience by always ending his report with a Malay pantun (quatrain).

(Please see picture above. From the right are Karam, Yazzer, Elphege, the Prime Minister and other winners. Click on picture for a larger view.)

So,congratulations Elphege and Yazzer. As a fellow Sabahan, I am proud of you two. Even prouder that you were the only Sabahans who won this year at the national-level contest. I am sure your victory will spur other Sabah journalists on.

(Footnote: Elphege is a brother of our fellow Sabahan blogger and Giut.Net member Ben Godomon. His main blog, Chronicles, can be accessed at

Monday, May 5, 2008

The New Assembly Meets

With the 12th Malaysian General Election on 8th March 2008 done and over with, the winning party; in this case the National Front or BN at both the Federal (Parliament) and the Sabah State levels gets down to the business of governing.

Members of the Malaysian Parliament (MPs) were sworn-in before new Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House or House of Representatives ) last Monday 28th April 2008. The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or Malaysian King declared open the new session of Parliament which also consists of an Upper House or the Senate (Dewan Negara) the following day.

The real business of Parliament began on April 30 with the one-and-a-half hour question and answer time followed by Motion of Thanks on the King's policy speech and its debate. It was also an historic day for the Malaysian Parliament as for the first time there was a half-hour live telecast over government TV beginning at 10am.

However, this telecast which was meant for the benefit of the Malaysian public who may otherwise never get a chance to see first hand what goes on inside Parliament was marred by heated argurments over petty matters between the Speaker, the Opposition and government backbenchers. As a result, only 3 questions were answered by Ministers over the one-and-a-half question time. Shame on you, Malaysian MPs (not all, only those involved), you wasted precious time and tax payers' money and betrayed their trust.

Faced with a threat by the Government to discontinue the live broadcast, however, the MPs' behavior improved when Parliament met for the second time today, Monday May 5th. Although the first 5-10 minutes or so were still wasted due to queries on the Speaker's decision by the same Opposition guy who started it all last Wednesday, at least 8 questions were answered by Ministers today.

As a result of this 'improved behavior', the Information Minister announced that he will consider increasing the half-hour live telecast to one full hour soon. So, you guys in Parliament, why don't you behave so that ordinary people will get a chance to witness what transpires in Parliament. After all, it was these ordinary folks who put you in Parliament and they will in 4-5 years' time again decide whether to send you back to Parliament. Remember, most of these ordinary folks may not even get a chance to step into Parliament building (let alone becoming an MP) in their lifetime! So please do them a favour.Thank you.

Anyway, there is a consolation though. Much as some of our MPs are childish, they cannot be as bad as their Taiwanese counterparts who actually fight, climbing onto tables inside Parliament, preventing the Speaker from chairing the meeting, and even male MPs physically attacking women MPs and so on. But who knows, given the big number of Opposition MPs now (82), we may just be like the Taiwanese one day if things get too heated.

By the way, there was another first in Parliament this time, at least for Sabahans in particular and East Malaysians in general. For the first time since the formation of Malaysia, both the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and his two Deputies are from East Malaysia!. The Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin and a deputy Datuk Ronald Kiandee are Sabahans while the other deputy Datuk Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar is a Sarawakian. One up for Sabah and Sarawak!

Coming back to Sabah, the 60 newly-elected State Legislative Assemblymen were sworn-in before the Speaker, Datuk Juhar Hj Mahiruddin (himself a former Deputy Speaker of Parliament) last Tuesday April 29. The Sabah Yang Di-Pertua Negeri (Governor), Tun Hj Ahmadshah Abdullah opened the new session of the Assembly the next day.

Although the number of Opposition Assemblyman remained the same in Sabah this time as compared to the last session - one - there was nonetheless history in that for the first time the Opposition and Kula Lumpur-based DAP managed to send a'Rocket' (the party's symbol) into the Assembly. He is Jimmy Wong representing Sri Tanjung in Tawau. In the last Assembly, the loner was Datuk John Ghani, the Independent Assemlyman from Kuala Penyu but he failed to defend his seat.

Last Thursday being a public holiday and the Assembly, just like Parliament, does not sit on Fridays; the Assemblymen met again today (Monday) until Wednesday when the Ministers will wind-up the debate on the Governor's policy speech for their respective Ministries. The Assembly is also expected to amend the State Constitution to enable the appointment of 4 new Assistant Ministers, bringing the total to 18. There are 11 Cabinet or full Ministers, similar to most other Malaysian States.
The 60 new Sabah State Legislative Assemblymen with the Governor and his consort at the opening ceremony on April 30.
The seating arrangement of the Assemblymen inside the Sabah State Legislative Assembly. The Ministers and Assistant Ministers are on the left, with the government backbenchers and the lone Opposition DAP Assemblyman on the right.
The list of the new Assemblymen elected on the 8th March 2008 election. It begins with the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman (BN-Sungai Sibuga) and ends with the lone Opposition DAP Assemblyman Jimmy Wong representing Sri Tanjung in Tawau.

(Please click on images for larger view.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

One of Malaysia's Richest Men Passes Away (Pt.2)

The death today of Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin came barely a few months after another top corporate figure and also one of Malaysia's richest men, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong (pic) of the Genting Casino fame passed away.

Nasimuddin was also the second Tan Sri to have died in as many days. Tan Sri MG Pandithan, president of the Indian Progressive Front (IPF) party passed away a couple of days ago.

May their souls rest in peace.

One of Malaysia's Richest Men Passes Away

Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin (pic), one of Malaysia's richest men and one of the nation's most successful Bumiputra or Native businessmen, passed away today.

Nasimuddin, 53, who built an automotive empire via the Naza group, died after a short battle with lung cancer at a private hospital in Long Beach, Carlifornia. The well-known philantrophist, who rose from a self-funded car salesman to become an auto czar, had been receiving treatment there since January. He passed away at 9am Pacific time Thursday morning, with his wife Puan Sri Zaleha Ismail and children by his side. His remains will be flown to Malaysia on May 3.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad described the late Nasimuddin as a fine example of the product of the New Economic Policy. He said the late Tan Sri was kind to everybody including his workers.

He died in is prime years. What a big loss to Malaysia. He was certainly a source of inspiration to many an aspiring Bumiputra entrepreneur. May God bless his soul.

The Chinese Have Landed!

Yes, the Chinese have landed! At least that seemed to be the message at a Seminar I attended this morning in Kota Kinabalu.

The half-day seminar was organised by Scott & English (M'sia) Sdn Bhd (S&E) of Kuala Lumpur through its Sabah branch. Its purpose was to introduce air conditioners manufactured by the Midea group of China.

Midea is a household name in China when it comes to home appliances and other electrical items, just like Sony and Panasonic are in Japan. Founded in 1968, it is now the world's largest manufacturer of fans and 2nd largest for air cons in terms of units.

For the purpose of marketing Midea products in Malaysia, S&E has formed a joint-venture company with Midea of China and the result is S&E Electronics Sdn Bhd.

The seminar was well-attended by industry players and electrical dealers from all over Sabah and Labuan. To make it worth their while, it ended with lunch at the plush hotel where the seminar was held.

Among those present at the seminar were Mr Ng Kong Chin, CEO of both S&E M'sia and S&E Electronics; Mr Elvis Chan and Mr CH Yip, joint-general managers of S&E Electronics; Mr Eric Lo, East M'sia area manager for S&E Electronics; and Mr Andy Wong, Sabah area manager for S&E M'sia.

Picture: (From left) Andy, Yip, Chan and Ng giving the thumbs up for Midea air con products (background).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

About First of May

Today is the First of May or, as some prefer to put it, May 1st, even May Day.

In Malaysia, as in some other nations, today is also Workers' Day and therefore a public holiday. This also means that if you have to work today, your boss is supposed to pay you double or overtime. However, this only applies to those permanently employed or full-time or at least have a letter of appointment. Meaning if you are daily-paid like coffeeshop workers, I suppose you are not in a position to negotiate.

Workers' Day used to be known as Labour Day in Malaysia until recent years. I am not sure why the government made the change but my guess is that Workers sound more dignified whereas Labour sounds a bit degrading. In Malay (the national language of Malaysia), Workers' Day is known as Hari Pekerja and Labour Day is Hari Buruh. To illustrate my point, there is a local cooking oil branded Cap Buruh (Labour) and you can actually see a labourer hammering away in its logo.

Traditionally, the Prime Minister being the chief executive of the country would address workers in general and civil servants in particular on this day. This illustrates the importance that the government attaches to this day, apart from declaring it a holiday. However, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (known affectionately in Malaysia as Pak Lah) is overseas and he will address such a gathering next week. The more than one million civil servants in the country can't wait to hear him speak because they expect some good news such as the expansion of their retirement age to 60 or at least 58 and the doing away of the civil service efficiency exam (PTK). To the civil servants (me included)keep you fingers crossed until May 10.

Today is also the first day of the month-long Harvest Festival or Kaamatan in Sabah. The Chief Minister normally launched the celebration at a different district each year. This year it's Beaufort's turn. The 2-day finale at the end of the month at Hongkod Koisaan (headquarters of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association or KDCA) would be launched by Sabah's Yang Di-Pertua Negeri or Governor. In the old days when I first started working, there was no 'launching' of the State-level do on May 1st; only the climax on May 30-31 in Penampang near the State Capital. The present practice was started by the then PBS state government in the late 1980s. The Chief Minister then, Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan was, after all, the President of KDCA as well as the Huguan Siou (Paramount Chief) of the Kadazandusun people, a community native to Sabah - he still is, although he is now only Deputy Chief Minister. When the first launching of the May 1st do was held, I can still remember a KDCA leader and Cabinet Minister saying: "If the Chinese can celebrate their New Year for 2 weeks culminating in Chap Goh Mei, I don't see why the Kadazandusuns can't celebrate theirs for one month."

There is a direct-selling company in Malaysia called May First. Why they call it by this name I am not sure. But what I do know is that it is famous for its product called Pronoton which is supposed to be good for men - you get the picture. A relative introduced this company to me but luckily so far I only took 2 of the Pronoton pills for testing purpose. This is because the Health Ministry recently came out with a statement banning Pronoton as it is harmful to health. May First is one of the sponsors of this year's Akademi Fantasia and in its TV advertisement it is using 2 well-known TV personalities to promote it, including the new MC for Akademi Fantasia.

Lastly, for those too young to know, there is actually a song called First of May made famous by the Bee Gees (picture above) between the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Bee Gees was made up of the 3 Gibb brothers - Robin, Barry and Maurice. I was a band boy then and this was among the songs I used to sing at parties (there was no Karaoke then, even the Disco had not yet landed in Sabah) along with other Bee Gees and Beatles songs.

The lyrics of First of May went like this:-

When I was small, and Chistmas trees were tall, We used to love while others used to play. Don't ask me why, the time has passed us by, Someone else moved in from far away. (Chorus) Now we are tall, and Christmas trees are small, And you don't ask the time of day. But you and I, our love will never die, But guess we'll cry come First of May. (2nd verse) The apple tree that grew for you and me, I watched the apples falling one by one. And I recall the moment of them all, the day I kissed your cheek and you were mine. (Repeat chorus) (3rd verse) When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall, Do do do do do do do do do....Don't ask me why, the time has passed us by, Someone else moved in from far away.

If you don't know how it sounds, well, since you are reading this blog I suppose you will have no problem searching for it on the Internet. Happy singing.