Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sabah's 1st State Election in 1967 (Part 2)

Here are the results of Sabah's first direct general election for the 32 elected State Legislative Assembly seats in April 1967. I did not give the exact dates because unlike nowadays when the results for all seats would be known by the same evening (although the number of seats had almost doubled to 60), those days it took almost 3 weeks before all the results were known. The first counting was done on polling day itself - 8 April - (for the urban seats like Kota Kinabalu, then Jesselton) and the last on 27 April (for the most rural or remote seats), just imagine. It also goes to show how undeveloped Sabah's communication system was then. By the way, talking about communication, sorry for the delay as I promised to give you the results yesterday. Man proposes God disposes, remember?

(Constituency/Name of Candidate/Party/No. of Votes) (Winner in Bold)

01 - KUDAT

OT Tsen Kinsung (UPKO) - 1,697
Wong Loke Khiam (SCA) - 3,132

My commentary: Wong, later Datuk Wong, was appointed as Sabah's Health Minister after the election. The health portfolio was later abolished and taken over by the federal government. Notice the UPKO candidate's name had a prefix of OT. It stands for Orang Tua which literally means Old Man but it was actually how a Ketua Kampung (KK) or Village Headman was called in those days. Then, the law was more lax and you could add almost anything to your name and have it registered in your Identity Card!


Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun (USNO) - 4,690
Richard E. Yapp (UPKO) - 2,039

My Commentary: Tun Mustapha, as he was reverently referred to, was the USNO president and he became the Chief Minister after the election and served until Oct 1975. He was Sabah's first Governor (those days still known as Yang Di-Pertua Negara before it was changed to Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sabah) from 31 August 1963. He later resigned as Governor to take an active part in politics and to be able to contest in an election. However, in the interim before the election he replaced Dato' Donald Stephens (later Tun Mohd Fuad) as the Federal Minister from Sabah, a post held by Stephens after his resignation as Sabah's first Chief Minister effective 1 January 1965. Mustapha was the longest-serving Bengkokka-Banggi Assemblyman, handing over to his son Datu Amir Kahar in 1981. Bengkokka-Banggi as later divided into two constituncies, with Banggi island as one and Bengkokka on Sabah's mainland (later renamed Pitas) as the other. Richard Yapp, until his defeat in the 1967 election, was a member of the State Cabinet, representing UPKO under the Alliance Government with USNO and SCA arranged by the British when they left in 1963. Those days the Alliance party also consisted of the Sabah Indian Congress or SIC and at one time they even had an Indian Nominated Assemblyman! However, SIC, until its dissolution, never contested in an election.


Andrew Matakim (UPKO) - 3,861
Awang Ali Osman (USNO) - 2,214

My Commentary: Andrew, later made a Datuk, was among those UPKO Assemblymen who 'jumped' to USNO after the election. He was first made an Assistant Minister and later full Minister after retaining the Langkon seat in the 1971 election. In the meantime he had embraced Islam, changing his name to Idrus; following the footsteps of his (UPKO) party president Stephens. Note that although Langkon is a Kadazan or Christian-majority area, the USNO candidate managed a credible showing of more than 2,000 votes. There are of course a sizable number of Muslims in the area. It is not my intention to involve race or religion here, but my sole intention is to show that race and religion, until today, have been playing an influencial role in Sabah politics. For example, in the 1967 election, most if not all of the 14 seats won by USNO were Muslim-majority seats while the 12 seats won by UPKO were non-Muslim Native majority seats. History repeated itself in 1976 when Berjaya defeated USNO and in 1985 when PBS beat Berjaya! Will dwell more on this as we go along.


Herman Luping (UPKO) - 2,207
Madina Unggut (USNO) - 690

My Commentary: Luping, now Datuk Dr Herman, along with the remaining UPKO Assemblymen joined USNO after their party's resolution late 1967. Just like Andrew, he was initially made an Assistant Minister. His fortunes were however better than that of Andrew as he ended up as a Deputy Chief Minister just before USNO's defeat by Berjaya in 1976. Herman, one of the first Sabahans to graduate from overseas with a university degree, served as the General Manager of (the old) Sabah Times once. Although Madina of USNO polled only 690 votes, he eventually became a YB (the Honourable) while his brother Baudi Unggut also became a Member of Parliament under the USNO government.


Mohamed Said Keruak (USNO) - Uncontested

My Commentary: Mohamed Said (left picture, top) or Said Keruak as he was fondly referred to, a former Native Chief from Kota Belud where Usukan is located, was a member of the State Cabinet even before the election. He (now Dato' Said) must have been Sabah's longest serving Agriculture & Fisheries Minister, as the post was then called. After the 1971 election, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Minister while holding on to his portfolio. He (now Tan Sri Said) was further promoted to Chief Minister in Oct 1975 when Tun Mustapha had to step down due to pressure following the birth of the Kuala Lumpur-backed Berjaya party. However, he was also the shortest-serving Chief Minister as USNO was defeated by Berjaya in April 1976. Said took over as USNO president from Tun Mustapha after the defeat and led the party into the 1981 state election. Said had always been seen as Mustapha's No. 2 and trusted lieutenant in both the government and party. It was however the most disastrous outing USNO had ever witnessed. If in 1976 USNO got at least 20 seats (against Berjaya's 28), in 1981 it got only 3 - almost wiped out! Mohd Said retired from active politics after that, passing the baton as Usukan Assemblyman and later Kota Belud MP to his son, Salleh. However, in 1987 there was a change of fortune for Said - he was invited by the new PBS government to be Sabah's Governor (by now renamed Yang Di-Pertua Negeri). He (now Tun Said) served as Governor for 2 terms or 8 years. It is noteworthy that one of his last acts as Yang Di-Pertua Negeri just before he retired end of 1994 (by now another new state govenment - that of BN) was swearing-in his son Salleh as the new Chief Minister. Thus, history was created as Said-Salleh became the only father and son team who had both been Sabah Chief Ministers! In fact, swearing-in in front of his own father was already a history in itself! Will the Keruak family create another history in our lifetime should Salleh, who served as CM until May 1996, one day become a Governor himself? We never know. It's not impossile. Salleh is still young, even younger than me and as a Muslim he is qualified to be the Governor. Let God's will be done. Note: Said died when Salleh was CM.

To be continued (tea break).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sabah's 1st State Election in 1967 (Part 1)

Although North Borneo gained self-rule from Britain on 31 August 1963 and became Sabah, part of Malaysia on 16 September the same year; the first election for the State Legislative Assembly seats did not take place until April 1967.

Prior to 1967, Members of the Assembly (or Legislative Council as the British called it) were chosen in two ways. They were either appointed direct by the colonial government or chosen from electoral colleges formed through elections for the local district councils or town boards in the case of the bigger towns like Kota Kinabalu (then Jesselton). In other words, some of the YBs (called the Honourable in those days) were elected indirectly.

That was why the 1967 election was also known as Sabah's first direct general election as for the first time the Assembly Members were elected directly. However, with this the elections for the local councils were also slowly phased-out.

From Independence in 1963 till the 1967 election, Sabah saw two Chief Ministers. The first was the late Tun Haji Mohd. Fuad Stephens, then Dato' Donald Stephens (left picture) who was CM from 31 August 1963 to 31 December 1964. Next was Tan Sri Peter Lo, then Dato' Peter Lo (center picture) who was Sabah's chief executive from 1 January 1965 till April 1967.

Lo created history when he became the first Chinese Chief Minister in 1965. He created another history in the 1967 election when he lost to an Independent candidate, the first CM in Sabah's history to do so! But that was not the only reason why he was no longer the CM after he election. Even had he won, his party (Sabah Chinese Association) would only have six seats (including himself) whereas its partner Usno had 14.

Usno president, the late Tun Datu Haji Mustapha Datu Harun (right picture) had earlier resigned as Sabah's first Yang Di-Pertua Negara (Governor) to contest in the election so he could be CM. After having been sworn-in as Governor on 31 August 1963, it did not take Mustapha long to realise that the governorship was only a figurehead and No.1 only in protocol and that the real power rested with the CM who is the chief executive of the State, although protocol-wise he was only No.2.

A total of 32 elected seats for the State Legislative Assembly were at stake in the 1967 election. The Muslim-based USNO won 14 seats and Kadazan or Christian-based UPKO obtained 12 seats, with the Chinese-based SCA winning 5 while the remaining seat went to an Independent in Sandakan (accountant Datuk Yap Pak Leong who later became a Minister under the Berjaya government in 1976).

All three parties, USNO, UPKO and SCA were members of the Sabah Alliance prior to the election and although they contested against each other in most areas it was meant to be a 'friendly contest'. All 3 parties had representatives in the State Cabinet from 1963 till the election. However, by the time the State Assembly was dissolved to pave way for Sabah's first direct election in 1967, relations between USNO led by Tun Mustapha and UPKO led by Tun Fuad had soured to the point of sabotaging each other.

Furthermore, as they say politics is a number game and with the election results known, both USNO and UPKO courted SCA with a view to form a two-party coalition government. Both USNO and UPKO wanted to outdo each other or, as they say in politics, 'kill' each other. "Kill or be killed", as they also say in politics. SCA opted for USNO and a coalition government was formed with Tun Mustapha as Chief Minister and SCA's Datuk Khoo Siak Chiew (father of current Sabah MCA leader Datuk Edward Khoo) as his Deputy. They still called it the Sabah Alliance government except this time minus UPKO.

Conclusion: When Tun Mustapha formed his State Cabinet, he purposely left one ministerial post vacant. Those days there were only 9 ministers (now 11) including the CM. When within weeks UPKO's Kiulu Assemblyman, the late Datuk Payar Juman switched camp and was appointed a Minister, it became clear why Mustapha had left one post vacant.

When weeks turned into months a few other UPKO Assemblymen followed suit and jumped; thus the term 'the political frogs of Sabah' was born. Some became Assistant Ministers, the rest were given other lucartive government posts. To cut the long story short, when only a handful of UPKO Assemblymen were left and USNO becoming stronger and stronger, Tun Fuad Stephens dissolved UPKO "in the name of Bumiputra (Natives) unity" and its members were encouraged to join USNO. (Note: Starting at this point SCA had outlived its usefulness to USNO and Sabah's Chinese were beginning to be ignored politically.)

Stephens was later appointed Malaysia's High Commissioner to Australia. He also embraced Islam, changing is name from Donald to Mohd. Fuad. When his tour of duty in Australia ended, Stephens was made Sabah's 3rd Governor in 1973. By then he and Mustapha, his one-time arch-rival and sworn-enemy, had become 'blood brothers'. Even Stephen's daughter was engaged to Mustapha's son. Indeed, Mustapha and Stephens became the two most powerful men in Sabah once again, just like the old days of 1963-64; except this time in reversed roles.

But alas, man proposes but God disposes and as they say all good things must come to an end. The seemingly unshakable 'dream team' of Mustapha and Stephens finally cracked in 1975 when Stephens dumped his blood brother to lead the newly-formed and Kuala Lumpur-backed Berjaya party; taking over from Harris Salleh, the initial leader. Even the children's engagement was called off! USNO people of course called it back-stabbing (especially your own blood brother) but to Stephens it might have been 'sweet revenge'. We don't know. He did not live to write his memoirs. He died in a plane crash barely weeks after becoming Chief Minister for the second time after Berjaya won the 1976 election, defeating USNO.

I can go on and on but I guess better leave some materials for another time. One thing I have learnt through the years though - "History always repeats itself" - so said one of my former bosses who was a historian by training.

Tomorrow: Results of the 1967 election in Part 2. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Miss Universe Pics

Recently I blogged about the Miss Universe 2008 beauty pageant but there were complaints of too few photos. Well, it's better late than never and here you are, Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela waving to the crowd after being crowned as the new universal queen.
Dayana at the evening gown parade. Note her poise and confidence plus sweet smile which won the judges' hearts.
The top five finalists, l-r, Miss Columbia (1st runner-up), Miss Venezuela, Miss Dominican Republic (2nd runner-up), Miss Mexico (4th runner-up) and Miss Russia (3rd runner-up). Note that only one (Russia) of the Top 5 was not from Latin America.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Two Pieces of Good News for Sabah

Today, Thursday 17th July 2008, I learned two pieces of good news for Sabah. (Please click on the map above for a larger view.)

First, Malaysian deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the massive crackdown on illegal immigrants in Sabah will start in August.

Speaking after chairing a meeting on the matter in Kuala Lumpur, the national capital, Najib who is also Defence Minister said an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 illegal immigrants are expected to be deported under the exercise.

They would include those without documents and those who have overstayed. The crackdown would be open-ended and continuous.

"This show that the Government has the political will to resolve the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

"We do not want this problem to recur," he said. Among those at the meeting were Sabah political leaders.

He also said that the Cabinet, in its meeting last Friday, had approved RM50 mllion for the purchase of equipment and expenses for the operation to be led by the police with the Sabah State Secretary co-ordinating the move.

The operation would involve multi agencies such as immigration, armed forces, Rela and others.

"Home Ministry has also had bilateral talks with Indonesia and the Philippines on the operation to repatriate illegal immigrants," he said.

Najib also said the Home Ministry would discuss with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to handle street children and to have a place to house them.

The operation would start from the west coast of Sabah as a detention transit camp is ready there, he said, adding that the operation would then move to the east coast.

The last crackdown on illegal immigrants in Sabah was in 2001 when Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat was Chief Minister for 2 years under the now-abolished rotation system.

The 2nd Good News: The Sabah Government has approved some 78,000 hectares of a mangrove forest reserve and a wildlife forest reserve in the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama area for listing as Sabah's first Ramsar site.

Director of the Sabah Forestry Department, Datuk Sam Mannan said the approval was given yesterday at the State Cabinet meeting.

"This classification covers the Trusan Kinabatangan, Kuala Segama-Maruap Forest Reserve and Kulamba Wildlife Forest Reserve which are already existing conservation areas and have been identified as such under the Sabah Development Corridor," he said in a statement Thursday.

Ramsar, an international convention on wetlands, provides the framework for national action and international c0operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, said Sam.

He said the benefits of the listing would allow Sabah access to international assistance on the research of wetlands and external funding for management activities, and raise further the profile of Sabah's conservation efforts internationally.

My Say: Before today's announcement on Ramsar, other recent noteworthy developments in Sabah's environmental conservation efforts included the proclaimation of Mount Kinabalu as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the classification of the Maliau Basin as a First Class Forest Reserve (meaning it cannot be touched), and declaration of the 'Heart of Borneo' conservation area, a joint-effort with other states on Borneo island including Indonesian Kalimantan. Congratulations Sabah especially to the Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman as most of these were done during your tenure. Well done, keep it up. Since Alliance-Usno time in the 1960s, followed by Berjaya era in the 1970s, then PBS in the 1980s, Sabah's forests has been 'raped' rampantly again and again. It's about time that someone puts a stop to it.

Welcome to Sikmading's Sabah. Malaysian Borneo - the Land Below The Wind.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Sikmading & Berjaya!

Yes, Happy Birthday to my blog, Sikmading's Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, which was born on 15th July 2007 and Sabah's former ruling party Berjaya which was launched on 15th July 1975. (Click on press clipping above for a larger view.)

Then, you might say, why did I submit this post today and not yesterday? Well, I normally write my new posts in the evening after dinner; sitting in my lazy chair under the comfort of the fan (or air-con, depending on the weather) with a cup of coffee or tea beside me and pay-TV in front of me to keep myself updated and refreshed (Local News, CNN, BBC, CNBC etc, you know).

But last night, I told myself "no hurry" as I would only do it after watching the live debate on TV between de facto Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Chik. The debate was about the unpopular recent fuel price increase by the government and I believe the whole nation (except those without Astro, Malaysia' pay-TV) were watching it.

The debate was over shortly after 10pm and I immediately got cracking on my new post, which is what actually I am writing right now. I couldn't access my Internet through Streamyx. So as usual I called up TMNet. As usual too, they said "session hang" and asked me to switch off my modem for a short while and then switch it on again. I have to do this almost every nite and so far no problem. Any solution?

But last night, believe it or not, even after contacting TMNet and doing what they asked me to do, it still says 'Server Not Found'. I contacted TMNet again and tried again and again to connect. To cut the long story short, by 11pm I still couldn't get online. By then, I was tired and sleepy. So I told myself "There's always a tomorrow."

To console myself, I said never mind, after all events that happen today only get into the newspapers the following day. For example, the story of Berjaya's launch only got into the Malaysian papers on 16th July 1975. Besides, in certain parts of the world especially USA, it's still 15th July today so I am not totally behind time. (What an excuse! he he...)

For the information of the younger Sabahans as well as visitors interested in Sabah politics, Berjaya went on to form the State Government just 9 months later in April 1976, defeating the Usno-led Alliance party which had won Sabah's first direct general election in 1967. For the record, Berjaya won 28 of the 48 seats with Usno obtaining the remaining 20. Usno's partner in the Sabah Alliance, the Sabah Chinese Association (SCA), was wiped out in that election. SCA left the Sabah Alliance soon after and was later dissolved.

Berjaya was initially led by former Usno strongman and State Cabinet Minister Datuk Harris Salleh. Within days he stepped aside in favour of Sabah's first Chief Minister Tun Mohd. Fuad Stephens (then Dato' Donald Stephens). At the time of Berjaya's formation, Stephens who was half-white was the Sabah Yang Di-Pertua Negara (Governor). When Stephens stepped down from the 'palace', Harris became his No. 2 in Berjaya.

But alas, as fate would have it, Stephens and 3 of his Ministers were killed in an air crash barely weeks after winning the election in what is now known as the Double Six (June 6, 1976) tragedy. Harris took over as Chief Minister the same evening to ensure continuity. Harris led Berjaya to a landslide win in the 1981 state general election, winning 44 of the 48 state legislative assembly seats at stake.

But Harris was not as lucky in the 1985 state general election. By then, the people of Sabah were fed-up with Berjaya over several issues and voted in a one-and-a-half-month old Parti Bersatu Sabah (Sabah United Party). By then too, Berjaya had ruled Sabah for 9 years, the same number of years that Alliance had administered the State; thus giving birth to the phrase "The 9-Year Jinx". (PBS also ruled for 9 years until 1985. Jinx or no Jinx?)

After Berjaya's defeat, Harris 'handed over' the party leadership to former secretary-general Mohd. Noor Mansoor who led Berjaya to an even more disastrous outing in the 1986 snap election called by the new Chief Minister and PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan. To cut the long story short, both Usno and Berjaya were eventually dissolved.

For more on Berjaya's formation and the Double Six tragedy, please visit my older posts by clicking July 2007 and June 2008 in my Blog Archive. Thank you for visiting and with your support I will now look forward to my blog's 2nd birthday next year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Miss Universe 2008 (Updated)

As promised, I'm back with more news and (more importantly) picture of the Miss Universe 2008 beauty pageant held in a resort city in Vietnam, where the Americans once went to war and lost to the communists who were supposed to be less well-equipped.

Above picture, courtesy of The Sun, Malaysia's free paper, shows Venezuelan beauty Dayana Mendoza reacting after being announced Miss Universe 2008 while first runner-up and fellow Latin American, Taliana Vargas, 20, of Columbia looks on.

Apart from Dayana and Taliana, two of the other three top five finalists were also from Latin America. They were Miss Dominican Republic and Miss Mexico. The other finalist was Miss Russia.

According to a despatch from Reuters, this year's event went more smoothly than the 2007 pageant in Mexico, which was marked by protests, a banned dress and the withdrawal of Miss Sweden after critics at home complained the contest degraded women.

However, misfortune befell Miss USA for a second straight year. During the evening gown parade, Crystle Stewart of Texas slipped on the runway. She however finished in the top 10.

A year ago in Mexico, Rachel Smith also lost her footing and landed on her bottom. Despite that, she finished fifth.

The annual Miss Universe pageant - which tries to present itself as something more meaningful than a swimwear parade - was first held in Long Beach, California in 1952. (2 years before I was born!)

The event was taken over in 1996 by real estate mogul Donald Trump.

Communist-led Vietnam spent nearly USD$20 million on the event, including USD$7 million on a new resort and convention center to host the pageant, in a bid to promote tourism to the South East Asian nation.

After celebrating at home with her family, Mendoza will spend her year-long reign travelling the world to speak out on humanitarian issues.

"I think I will jump on my family and they will jump on me. I want to have my mum's food," she said.

"I am excited. I cried a lot. I am really glad I made it," Dayana, the 57th winner of the title, also told reporters.

Miss Universe 2008

Miss Venezuela, Dayana Mendoza, was this morning crowned the 2008 Miss Universe at the Crown Convention Center in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam.

Morning? Yes, morning - in order to enable American viewers to see it live in the evening. What to do, they call the shots. It's their show. A a result of the timing, most Malaysians missed the live telecast, if any. I don't think any of our free-to-air TV stations or the pay-TV Astro broadcasted it. Never saw any advertisement or promotion prior to today, did you? Hopefully tonite got.

Ms. Mendoza is 22 years old and her career ambition is to become an Interior Designer, according to the Miss Universe official web site. Don't waste your time visiting this site because you will have to pay to view most of the photos. The above was all I could get without paying. Dayana also enjoys photography and is interested in advertising.

Dayana, who beat 79 other contestants, was crowned by Miss Universe 2007, Riyo Mori.

The site didn't say who were the runners-up. Trying other sources Will keep you posted, hopefully.

All Eyes on KL Today (Updated)

OK, I have just received my SMS News Alert from The Star a short while ago. As expected, the Speaker, Pandikar Amin (pic) rejected opposition leader Wan Azizah's emergency motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi. He made known his decision in the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House of the Malaysian Parliament) after Question Time shortly after 11.30am.

Opposition MPs immediately made an appeal to the Speaker to review his decision. When he refused, they walked out! (Something not uncommon for the opposition to do) My only question is whether the two Sabah MPs from SAPP were in the House at that time and if they were, did they also walk out? Their president Yong Teck Lee had said last week to "count us in" after Azizah made known her intention to submit the motion.

Meanwhile, another SMS alert an hour ago said de facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (Azizah's husband) said through his lawyer that the former deputy premier would not go to the police station to have his statement taken, after all. Anwar is believed to be last person to be called by police in conjunction with a sodomy report lodged against him by his former aide. No reasons were given for Anwar's refusal to go to the police station.

All eyes will now indeed be on KL to see what would happen next. What would the Opposition and Anwar now do? The ball is back at their feet.

All Eyes on KL Today

Yes, all Malaysian eyes are on its national capital Kuala Lumpur (KL) today, for three good reasons.

First, by 11.30am, after Question Time which starts at 10am, the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) of the Malaysian Parliament (pic), Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia would have made known his decision whether to allow an emergency motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to be tabled by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Wan Azizah, who is President of the Parti KeAdilan Rakyat (PKR), a partner of the opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance), gave the notice for the emergency motion to the Speaker (who is a Sabahan, hooray!) last Friday. Under the Standing Orders of Parliament, the notice for an emergency motion must be submitted to the Speaker's office 24 working hours before the day it is to be tabled.

The Speaker will then decide, on the day concerned, either in Chambers or inside the House itself; normally after the question-and-answer session when other business of the day begins. At the time of my writing (almost noon), I am still waiting for my SMS News Alert from The Star, Malaysia's leading English tabloid daily.

I don't mean to be negative-minded or pessimistic, but experience tells me that it would probably be disallowed. Which brings us to Reason No. 2 - Police yesterday (despite being a Sunday when government offices in Malaysia are closed) obtained a Court Order banning the public from gathering within a 5km radius of Parliament House today, Monday. It was apparently prompted by rumours that former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters might gather outside Parliament grounds to protest should the Speaker decide against allowing the motion to be debated. Anwar, husband of Wan Azizah, has been the de facto leader of the loose opposition alliance following his release from prison a couple of years ago. He led the opposition to a good outing in the March 8 election, denying the BN a two-thirds majority in Parliament and taking control of 5 state governments, something unprecedented in Malaysia's half-a-century history.

Copies of the Court Order was pasted at KL Sentral, the capital's land transportation hub, yesterday among other places to alert the public. In addition, all roads leading to Parliament were blocked since 7 this morning; apparently to prevent opposition sympathizers from gathering as rumoured. The road blocks, as expected, caused massive traffic jams in KL this morning as thousands of office and factory workers head to work. This prompted the minister-in-charge of the police, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to issue a public apology late this morning, saying that the road blocks were for the public's own security.

As if this was not enough, Parliament officials announced over the weekend (despite it not being working days) that Members of Parliament (MPs) would from Monday be no longer allowed to bring guests to the House. I do not know about now, but when I was still serving Sabah MPs between the 1980s-90s, an MP was entitled to bring a maximum of 10 guests each. In view of the tremendous increase in number of MPs since then, they must have been lowered the figure. But let's say an MP nowadays can bring 5 at a time - there are 82 Opposition MPs, so x5 gives you 410 (unwelcomed) guests, big enough a numer to cause a scene or stir or even disturbance in Parliament should the Speaker rules against allowing the motion.

The 3rd and final reason: Anwar, the 'Prime Minister-in-waiting', is scheduled to show up at a police station for his statement to be taken in conjunction with a police report lodged by his former aide that he was sodomised 8 times by the former deputy premier and finance minister, who was once regarded by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as "one of the best finance ministers in the region." Lady Thatcher also said that "if finance ministers are transferable, I wouldn't mind having him transferred to Britain."

Anwar spent some years in jail from late1990s to mid-2000s also on a sodomy charge. He was released after Malaysia's highest court overturned the High Court's decision which found him guilty of sodomy. He was however barred from active politics including standing for election as his other conviction, of corruption by influencing the police in their investigations, stood. That ban expired recently and Anwar is expected to contest in a by-election to be caused by the 'resignation' of one of his PKR MPs to enable him to become an MP and, perhaps, eventually, the Prime Minister.

My Say: First, they confined reporters and photographers to a corner in Parliament House, restricting their movements and freedom to discharge their duties. That restriction was lifted after protests including from some of the MPs themselves, both from the opposition and government backbenchers. Now, they stop MPs from brining guests (which is a normal practice in Parliament throughout the world). I wonder what's next? Stopping reporters from covering Parliament sittings altogether or asking MPs to take turns to attend Parliament?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Countdown Begins (Updated)

Time flies. Without realizing, in a couple of days my blog - Sikmading's Sabah, Malaysian Borneo - will celebrate its 1st birthday.

Last month, I set myself the target of 100 posts with a minimum of 5,000 visits (based on Sitemeter) before July 15. Thank God, that target was achieved well ahead of time. This is my 118th post and at last count there was more than 5,600 visitors. As I had then said, the next target would be another 100 posts in 3 months and not 1 year! With your support and God's guidance, I hope to make it.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of you for your support. Without readers or visitors, a blog would be meaningless or useless no matter how well it is written.

Special appreciation to local blogger Joseph Bingkasan whose sms to me one day in late June or early July last year prompted me to jump unto the blogging bandwagon. His sms was to announce the birth of his blog, Aki Momogun ( But after visiting his blog, I told myself: If he can do it, why can't I? After all, we both have journalistic background and if journalists can't write, then who can?

Thanks also to another fellow-journalist Ruben Sario (Postcards from Borneo) for introducing me to Giuk.Net (From Sabah to the World) and blogger Ben Godomon a.k.a. Mr Pinolobo (Chronicles, among others) for helping to expedite my acceptance into the local network group. And of course, thank you to all of you at Giuk.Net including fellow Sabah bloggers for your visits, comments, advice. tips and support. Not forgetting my new found friends at Blog Rush and Blog Catalog. Also not forgetting Ahiruddin Attan a.k.a Rocky's Bru, one of Malaysia's top bloggers for mentioning my blog soon after I started. (I actually missed it myself but a friend told me so.)

My appreciaiton to Sabahan journalist based in KL (formerly Singapore), Jaxon S (Jaxon's Review and Borneo Blog) for his regular visits and generous advice and tips. The same goes to another Sabahan journalist based in Bangkok (formerly KL), Philip Golingai (Thai Takes) for his generous support.

Apart from Jaxon and Philip, J Bingkasan is another local journalist who has served not only outside Sabah but also outside Malaysia for that matter. I am proud of you guys, especially JB aka Aki who was the first Sabahan journalist to be based in London, working for the News Straits Times. It must have been a dream come true for him. I know because as a young trainee reporter me too had that kind of dream.

When I first got involved in journalism in the early 1970s, there wasn't many journalism courses or schools in this part of the world and most working journalists were school leavers. If you had a Diploma in Journalism then, you were already a 'qualified journalist' or somebody in the local press scene; what more if you had a journalism degree which was almost not available in Malaysia then. Thus, to be sent overseas for journalism training was quite a big deal those days. My 'idol' then, just like most young local journalists, were the three Sabahan reporters who had the benefit of being trained in Germany. Although it was just a 3-month International Diploma in Journalism course conducted in Berlin, the trio were definitely role models looked up to by young or up-and-coming local journalists including myself. Unfortunately, two of them had passed away. They were the late Tuanku Sharif Hamid (better known as TS Hamid) and the late Eddie Sequerah Ng. The other veteran is Wahid Norbinsha who is now a businessman. All three were at one time or another association with the old Sabah Times or Kinabalu Times which later merged to become Kinabalu Sabah Times.

The most 'qualified' local journalist then must have been Mr John Padasian (later Johan), the former Deputy Director of Information during the Usno era in the early 1970s. We were told he was the first Sabahan to hold a degree in journalism which he obtained from Australia. When the then Director of Information, the late Datuk Thomas Willie retired during the Berjaya era in late 1970s, John took over. Another Sabahan journalist of the good old days worth mentioning is Mr Melvin Okala. Although I am not sure if he had paper qualifications in journalism, he was certainly the first Sabahan (and first Murut) to be the correspondent and later Bureau Chief of Malaysia's National News Agency, Bernama, in Kota Kinabalu in the 1970s. Melvin, who later became Chief Editor of the old Sabah Times, has since retired, of course.

I am sorry to have detracted from the original purpose of this post but I suppose each and everyone of us do take a trip down memory lane once in a while. We are, after all, human. Furthermore, I would be selfish not to share with my juniors or the younger journalists of today what it was like in the early days of my time as a reporter.

Those days, a new or trainee reporter was also called a cub reporter. But I started as a what they called 'stringer', meaning part-time reporter usually corresponding from a certain town or district. I 'stringed' for my hometown of Tamparuli and district of Tuaran for the local English newspapers. I literally appointed myself to be one while waiting for my Form 5 results, being self taught and learning the ropes along the way. Those days, the Form 5 exam was still for the Cambridge School Certificate of Education (masih 'orang putih' punya bah) while for Form 6 it would be Senior Cambridge.

So, once again, thank you very much and may God bless you all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

See How Effective A Motion of No-Confidence Is?

At 3.45 this afternoon, Malaysian parliamentary opposition leader Azizah (Anwar's wife) filed a notice for an emergency motion of no-confidence agaianst the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Speaker's office (she is seen walking towards the Speaker's office in top picture, holding the notice in her hand and escorted by opposition leaders). The Speaker, Pandikar Amin will make known his decision whether to allow the motion when Parliament resumes sitting on Monday.

Three hours later, at a press conference after chairing the UMNO (major partner of BN, Malaysia's ruling coalition) supreme council meeting, Abdullah announced that he will hand over the premiership to his deputy Najib Razak in June 2010 (lower picture). By then, Abdullah would have served about half of his 5-year mandate given by the electorate on March 8.

Abdullah also announced that he would also hand over the UMNO presidency to Najib at the same time. He would in the meantime defend his presidency in the party polls in December, adding that he wants Naib to continue to be his deputy.

See how effective a motion of no-confidence is? And the motion is not even tabled yet! It's just a notice of intention and don't know yet whether it would be allowed by the Speaker on Monday. Even if it's allowed, it won't legally affect Abdullah as there will only be a debate and no voting. Because this (emergency motion) is the 'short cut' method. Only the 'long cut' method, if allowed, would result in voting in Parliament but this requires a 14-day notice.

Coming to think of it, SAPP should have just gone ahead and use this 'short cut' method the last three weeks that Parliament has been in session just to show Sabahans that the party was serious and not 'main-main' (play play). After all, under this method the question of the motion being defeated does not arise as there is no voting involved. And after all, the party had aleady disturbed the hornest' nest after its president Yong Teck Lee dropped a bombshell mid-June and got nothing to lose. As it this now, SAPP has somehow lost the trust of some, if not most, Sabahans. If 3 weeks ago, SAPP's credibility and popularity with Sabahans was at its highest now it's at its lowest ebb. Yesterday, a local Chinese newspaper said overnight (following Chua's statement 2 days ago) the SAPP has changed from a 'hero' in the eyes of Sabahans to a mild bear.

Now the opposition Pakatan Rakyat in general and PKR in particular has stolen the limelight from SAPP, although I suspect that PKR is doing it just to divert attention away from the latest sodomy accusation against its de facto leader Anwar.

It remains interesting to see whether the two SAPP MPs would support the motion on Monday if the debate is allowed. One of the duo, Dr Chua Soon Bui, seems to be singing a slightly different tune lately. Yesterday, Yong claimed that Chua and SAPP deputy president Raymond Tan were being used by BN to split the party and isolate him.

No wonder popular Malaysian blogger Ahiruddin Attan (Rocky's Bru) said he was getting fed-up and would stop blogging politics for 48 hours.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Now I'm Even More Fed-Up!

OK, that's it! This time I'm really fed-up. For the next few days I'll really try not to blog about politics, unless it's some earth-shattering news.

First, you have the Private Investigator making a Statutory Declaration (SD) saying that the Deputy Prime Minister had a sexual relationship with the murdered Mongolian model. The very next day, he made another SD to retract what he said earlier; then went missing.

Next, you have the bombshell dropped by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) about 3 weeks ago saying that its MPs would move a motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister in Parliament the following week for "failure to solve Sabah's problems and the fuel price hike." Sabahans became excited. At last there was a local BN component party which dared to stand up for them, or so it seemed. It reminded them of the then newly-formed Berjaya party (1975) and the infant PBS (1985). Suddenly there was fresh air and new hope. Overnight, despite being a BN party, SAPP became the new Berjaya or PBS and its president Yong Teck Lee was the new hero in the eyes of Sabahans, just like Harris in 1975 Pairin in 1985.

Yong's bombshell statement was endorsed by SAPP's supreme council 3 days after his first press conference. In the top picture, Yong (left) is seen with his deputy Raymond Tan (right) with Tawau MP Dr Chua Soon Bui just before the 2nd press conference to announce the endorsement despite BN's warning. Yong also said then that SAPP was prepared for whatever consequences, including being kicked out of BN. (For the record, Tan did not stay for the press conference.)

When Parliament sat the following Monday, nothing happened. SAPP's two MPs were not even there. The reason, according to SAPP, was that the duo had received death threats and were recalled to party headquarters for consultations.

One of the MPs, Eric Majimbun, started attending Parliament last week but still nothing happened. He kept a low profile, giving no press interviews.

The other MP, Dr Chua Soon Bui, finally showed up today as the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) enters its 3rd week of sitting. She said she had been on sick leave.

She paid 'courtesy calls' on the Speaker, Pandikar Amin (a Sabahan) and the Minister-in-charge of Parliament, Nazri Aziz. (See lower picture, above.)

The Doctor-of-Philosophy degree holder also spoke to the press who surrounded her as soon as they realised her presence. That was when she dropped another bombshell: "Motion of no-confidence against PM no longer on agenda of SAPP and that the party never intended to leave the BN!".

Among the reasons she gave was that SAPP dos not want to be blamed in the event of unexpected consequences affecting the public such as the declaration of a state of emergency in the country which also means emergency rule for an indefinite period. She added the PM also seemed to be doing something about Sabah's problem including the illegal immigrants issue. Malaysians already 'tasted' emergency rule after the 1969 racial riots.

The possibility of emergency rule (in which case the Constitution would be suspended and Parliament ceases to function) was first touched upon by SAPP president Yong Teck Lee when he spoke to the Press at Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. He said talks or even hints of such a possibility worried SAPP. Dr Chua was with him.

To be fair, I leave it to my readers or visitors to judge for themselves. But just like many Malaysians including popular blogger Ahiruddin Attan (Rocky's Bru), I am confused or, to borrow Sunday Star's headline, Simply Fed-Up.

In two days, Malaysians have seen as many unbelievable 'about-turns'. I wonder what's up next?

Good night. I'm mentally tired because of all the confusion caused. Better get some sleep.

Even Politicians Themselves Fed-Up!

Only hours ago, I said I would take a short break from blogging politics unless there is something positive.

The above are reproduced from today's Star and are self-explanatory. Click on each image for a larger view.

Yes, it seems now even the politicians themselves are getting fed-up!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Malaysians Simply Fed-Up!

Yes, I cannot agree more with the banner headline (and in red at that!) on the frontpage of yesterday's Sunday Star.

Malaysians are simply 'fed-up' with and have had enough of the political bickering that have been fed to them the past two weeks! So much so that among those getting fed-up is none other than one of the nation's best known bloggers, Ahirudin Attan a.k.a Rock's Bru!

And just like 'Rocky', me too am getting fed-up and taking a short break from blogging politics unless, as 'Rocky' said, it's something positive or important development.

All of the above articles, taken from yesterday's Sunday Star, speak for itself. I need not explain further why Malaysians are getting fed-up with these latest political developments. Click on each image for a larger view.

I do enjoy, however, reading the analysis written by the nation's top journalists like Datuk Wong Chun Wai and Jocelyn Tan. I find their writings quite objective, despite The Star's link with MCA, one of the ruling BN's coalition partners. Interested to read their full articles and missed yesterday's Star? Go to

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Maya Karin to Wed

German-Indonesian beauty Maya Karin Roelcke, 29, is to tie the knot on Aug 14 with Muhammad Ali 'Steven' Abdullah, 38, a Mathematics teacher of British origin at Alice Smith International School, Kuala Lumpur.

This piece of news will undoubtedly lay to rest speculation and rumour about her marrying an expatriate , which have been going on for the last few months.

The wedding ceremony, to be held in Milan, Italy includes a simple outdoor 'akad nikah' ceremony followed by a dinner reception. This will be followed by another wedding reception in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 29.

Muhammad Ali, who was also known as Steven David Shorthose, has been residing in Malaysia for the last 12 years. The couple met about 7 years ago.

According to Maya, they met after she attended several meetings at the private school where Steven was teaching, as her sister, Irina Melati and brother Amrin studied there.

"Steven and I get along really well. He takes good care of me and knows how to make me laugh.

"Steven has all the qualities I want in a man."

Maya and her family will be leaving for Italy on Aug 6.

The actress' German father, Gottfried Roelcke, a Hanoi-based town planner, is due to join the 20-member entourage comprising family members and relatives.

"I am just as exited as any bride but I don't intend to dwell too much on the wedding preparation."

On her plans after the wedding, Maya said she would continue acting.

"I love my job. Steven has been very understanding. I foresee only minor changes in my life later."

Source: New Straits Times, 5 July 2008.

My Say: This piece of news also put to rest all previous speculations and rumours surrounding Maya, including those which said that she was linked to this VIP, that celebrity and so on. But I suppose having been an artiste for so long, Maya by now must be immuned to all these. After all, what would an artiste's life be without rumours and speculations? In any case, it's her life. She has every right to live it as she likes. It can't be worse than Hollywood.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day of Good News for BN

The past couple of weeks have not been too good for Malaysia's ruling coalition, BN, politically speaking. First, there was the bombshell by its component party SAPP that it had lost confidence on the Prime Minister and BN chairman Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and planned on moving a motion of no-confidence against him in Parliament, something unprecedented. (For the record, the motion has not been tabled.)

Next, Raja Petra or RPK, one of Malaysia's top bloggers, alleged in a sworn statement that the country's Deputy Prime Minister and his wife were involved in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya. Then, the BN lost an Assembly seat in the State of Perlis through an election petition filed by the Opposition. A by-election will now be held but BN is trying to prevent that from happening through legal means.

Yesterday, a Private Investigator hired by one of the suspects in the murder case made a host of allegations against DPM Najib including the fact that he had a sexual relationship with the late model.

Then, all of a sudden today, less than 24 hours after his first sworn statement, the PI, Balasubramaniam made another statement retracting the first one, saying it was made under duress.

Also today, the Ipoh High Court rejected two petitions to annul the election results against a BN Member of Parliament and a BN Assemblyman of the State of Perak. This means that UMNO Women's Wing chief Rafidah Aziz can continue to be MP for Kuala Kangsar and Raja Ahmad Zainuddin also of UMNO (a BN component) the Assemblyman for Kubu Gajah.

Looks like all in all this has been a day of good news for BN. It could certainly use some good news after what it went through the past fortnight.

The images below, reproduced from today's Star newspaper, is self-explanatory. Click on the image for a larger view.

Update: (Saturday 5 July) Balasubramaniam's nephew has lodged a police report saying that his uncle, aunty and their three children are missing. Police have denied that they have been arrested. Police also said both of the PI's Statutory Declarations will be investigated including from the motive angle.

MAS Staff Vs Air Asia Staff?

In today's business world, it is not uncommon to find companies competing against each other; using all kinds of strategy. It is not even unusual to find them at loggerheads openly through the media.

But the staff of one company quarreling openly with the staff of another through the press? I don't know whether this is happening elsewhere in the world, but it certainly is over here in Malaysia. This recent newspaper clipping speaks for itself. Click on image for a larger view.

MAS' statement was made by its Employees Union (Maseu), but Air Asia does not have a staff union yet. So what do you do when you don't have an employees' union? Simple, release your statement through your company's communications team, as Air Asia did.

I wonder what's next? The staff of New Straits Times and The Star (both Malaysian newspapers) quarreling with each other openly?

A friend of mine used to say: "Certain things can only happen in Malaysia!"

Another friend said: "In Sabah, anything goes!"

No offence meant, after all I am a Malaysian and Sabahan myself.

Thank You MAXIS

This afternoon, I finally received the good news that I have been expecting from Maxis, my 012 telco mobile service provider. The sms message went like this:-

"Our voice and SMS service have now been restored. Your next bill will have a 50% rebate on your monthly subscription fee.Thank you for your support."

Considering that their service was only down for 1-2 days, this is certainly a bonus. By right, they can just just divide the number of days the service was down by 30 (days a month) and that's all you get for rebate.

Today's Maxis sms is certainly a far cry from the one it sent earlier this week, which went like this:-

"Thank you for your patience and support during our recent service disruption. Full service is being restored."

There was no mention of rebate. I checked the Maxis web site, also nothing. Had today's notice came later, say next week, I could have opted for another telco like Celcom or Digi.

Anyway, thank you Maxis. It's better late than never. In public relations term, this is called 'Damage Control'. After all, to be fair, it is not as if other telcos never had any problem.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Solution to Rising Scool Bus Fares?

As we all know, the recent steep fuel price increase has had an effect on practically the prices of everything else in Malaysia in general and Sabah in particular. This includes school bus fares.

I was reading a local Chinese newspaper in the coffeeshop this morning when I saw an article of a parent of pupils saying: " We pity the school bus owner, but who to pity us?" In the same article, of course, the school bus operators explained that they had no choice but to raise the fares for otherwise they may as well stop driving the buses.

When I returned to the office and checked my e-mail after breakfast, low-and-behold!, I found a mail with the above photograph. Solution to the expensive school bus fares? It is said that necessity is the mother of invention.

Thanks to Cyril M who e-mailed the pix to my friend who in turn forwarded it to me.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Eat More Borneo Fruits

The upper half of the advertisement.
(Click on image for a larger view)
The lower half of the advertisement.
(Click on image for a larger view)

I reproduce here an advertisement inserted by the Malaysian government in local newspapers recently. The advertisement was issued by the Ministry of Tourism in conjunction with the 'Colours of Malaysia' festival last month.

In view of the title of the festival, one would naturally think of a cultural extravaganza including parading traditional dances, lights and so on. It is however good thinking on the part of the Ministry to take the opportunity to also promote Malaysian fruits.

Although the festival which was held last month is now over, there are two reasons why I reproduce this ad. Firstly, to encourage my fellow-bloggers and visitors to my blog to eat more local fruits. I think we need to be more patriotic (National Day is next month) and support our local fruits industry. I am sure we have relatives who are farmers. Those of you who are well-traveled or well-read would know that all countries in the world are proud of their produce which they export including fruits. So why can't we be proud of ours?

In any case local fruits are much cheaper than imported ones and yet the vitamins are the same if not better. I mean if you want to eat, once in a while, Carlifornia oranges which are not grown in Malaysia, what to do lah! That's your right, I know. I don't know about you, but in my case the money that I save by buying local fruits instead of imported ones can certainly be put to good use like filling my car's petrol tank! I mean, before the fuel price hike, RM60 can fill my MyVi 1.3's tank already but now only 3/4 full.

The second reason why I reproduce this ad is that I cant help but notice that apart from the main Jom Makan-Makan (Let's Go Eat) or Citrarasa Malaysia (Taste of Malaysia) event held in the national capital Kuala Lumpur from June 6-8, supporting events were also held in other other States except Sabah! Melaka had theirs from May 30-June 1, Johor June 6-8, Pahang June 13-15, Terengganu June 20-22, and Sarawak June 20-22.

I can understand that the event was not held in Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Selangor because these States are now governed by the Opposition (Pakatan Rakyat). Just in case the people in the Ministry of Tourism forgot, I would like to remind them that Sabah has since 1994 been governed by the BN!

If the excuse of the Ministry is that Sabah was busy with the Harvest Festival, I would like to remind them that so was Sarawak. Infact, we had our Kaamatan at the end of May two days before our neighbouring State had their Gawai . Besides, if the Federal Government can hold its national-level Kaamatan do in Sabah on the very same day that we had our State-level 'do', which was on May 31, I can't see why the 'Fruits Fest', as I call it, can't be extended to Sabah. They had the whole month of June to do it! As the Malay saying goes, "If you really want to do something then there are 1,000 ways or reasons to do it, but if you don't want to do something, there will also be 1,000 excuses!".

I hope the Ministry won't come up with the excuse that Sabah has no unique local fruits. Who says so? Infact, some of our unique fruits are not even found in Peninsular Malaysia. One good example is the Tarap. In 1982, as a young officer I was chosen by the Sabah government to participate in a week-long goodwill study tour of West Malaysia organised by the National Unity Department.

Part of of programme saw us visiting farms and orchards in the Peninsular. By the time we were about to leave for home, we had tasted almost every kind of fruits found there except Tarap. It seems that their version of Tarap is a wild fruit found only in the forests and seldom eaten. This led one of our participants, the late Bishop Datuk Simon Fung, to remark to our West Malaysian friend: "Next time come to Sabah to eat Tarap."

So, Ministry of Tourism and Sabah Members of Parliament, if you are reading this, please make sure that Sabah is in next year.