Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Sikmading & Berjaya! (Part 2)

What a co-incidence! Only two hours ago I wrote about the birth of the Berjaya party in 1975 and its demise in the late 1980s. And moments ago I decided to visit Joseph Bingkasan's (JB) blog, Aki Momogun and what's his posting today? - According to him a group of young Sabah leaders are in the process of reviving Berjaya! Even the logo (above) is the same except for the additional thumbs-up sign. Also still there is the slogan or battle cry "Berjaya Tetap Berjaya" (Berjaya always succeeds).

If I remember correctly, the thumbs-up sign was also the 'signal' of Sabah People's Party or Parti Rakyat Sabah (PRS) led by former Berjaya deputy president the late Datuk Dr James Peter Ongkili. PRS was formed in 1989 by mostly former leaders of Berjaya which had by then been dissolved. It made its debut in the 1990 Sabah state general election but failed to win a single seat! PBS led by Ongkili's uncle Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan won a landslide in that election. Talk about blood being thicker than water!

Ongkili, also a former Sabah deputy chief minister, himself suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of his former opponent, Datuk Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing the PBS candidate. 'Humiliating' because Ongkili, also a former federal minister in the Malaysian Cabinet and one of the most educated Sabah leaders, lost his deposit. Bumburing, who was Ongkili's student at the University of Malaya in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in the 1970s, lost his deposit when he fought as an opposition candidate (Pasok party) against then deputy chief minister Ongkili in 1981. What a reversal of fortunes!

Among the PRS leaders who also lost was former Berjaya minister Datuk Ayub Aman, in Bingkor. The PRS deputy president is the brother of the current Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Aman. Ayub's teaming-up with Ongkili was most unexpected, as the two were at logger-heads during the Berjaya era; with the former leading the Dusun Association while the latter insisted that the Dusun should be called Kadazan. Mind you, when Ayub first rebutted openly against Ongkili, he (Ayub) was only an Assistant Minister while Ongkili was his senior colleague being the No. 2 man in both the government and ruling party! This led to rumours that Ayub had the No.1 (Chief Minister and Berjaya president Harris Salleh) behind him. As the saying goes, there's no permanent friend and no permanent enemy in politics!

Ongkili later gave up leadership of the Kadazans and passed the baton on to his uncle, another former Berjaya minister Joseph Pairin who cleverly used it for political gains and achieved the ultimate prize in Sabah politics - that of the Chief Ministership in 1985 - something which Ongkili must have regretted. Man proposes, God disposes. Pairin, despite being Ongkili's relative, had earlier fell out of favour with Harris and dropped from the latter's Cabinet.

PRS was dissolved after its disastrous debut outing. Ongkili died a few years ago. May his soul rest in peace.

For more on Berjaya Baru, which I myself heard of only today, go to JB's blog: I would like to take this opportunity to thank JB for introducing me to blogging 2 years ago. As far as I know, he is the only Sabah blogger to have appeared in the TV programme Blog over RTM. Congratulations! Well done brother, keep it up.

Footnote: Berjaya president and former Sabah chief minister Datuk Harris Salleh stepped down after its defeat mid-1985. The then party secretary-general Datuk Mohd Noor Mansoor defeated Ongkili for the new presidency, despite the latter being the incumbent No.2. Noor led Berjaya to an even more disastrous outing in the 1986 snap Sabah state general election. If Berjaya under Harris won 6 seats (out of 48) in 1985, the party under Noor won even less in 1986. A few months after the state election, the federal or parliamentary election followed. By then PBS had been accepted into BN along with Usno, the 'survivor' despite losing to Berjaya in 1976. Berjaya under Noor dropped a bomb shell just before the nationwide election - it pulled out of the BN, apparently trying to win votes of Sabahans dissatisfied with PBS' entry into BN. It didn't work. Berjaya scored 0. That sealed Berjaya's fate and the party was eventually dissolved for good.

Happy Birthday Sikmading & Berjaya! (Updated)

This post was supposed to have been written two days ago on Wednesday. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (favourite excuse of politicians and public relations personnel!) including technical hitches, I can do it only now. So, as you read it, please imagine that it's July 15. Thank you.

Time flies. Without realising and as if it was only yesterday, my blog is two years old! Yes, on 15 July 2007 I started Sikmading's Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. To the best of my memory, I had along the way made a couple of promises (especially on New Year's Eve) that I would TRY my best to blog everyday or at least every other day. I failed to keep my promises, but are promises not meant to be broken? Ha ha, what an excuse!

But, who cares? I might not have blogged regularly and my blog might not have been the best or won any prize, but at least I provided my fellow Sabahans and Malaysians with a blog on our beloved State of Sabah, nicknamed 'Land Below The Wind'. For that matter, I provided the World with a blog on this Borneo state. I helped popularise this east Malaysian state in cyberspace or borderless world, free of charge. For that, I should be given a Datukship (PGDK) compared to those less-deserving! After all, I'm just one step below the Datukship (ASDK). Ha ha, what wishful thinking! No joke no fun, as they say.

Actually, it's not just my blog's anniversary. July 15 WAS also the birthday of (the late) BERJAYA Party or, in the Malay language, Parti BERJAYA. Please see the press clipping above or go to my blog archive and click 2007. Yes, in 1975 a new political party was formed in Sabah which would change the course of the State's history until the mid-1980s. Within 9 months of its formation, BERJAYA swept to power; defeating the USNO-dominated Alliance Party which had ruled Sabah for 9 years since Independence in 1963. What's in a name? BERJAYA means success in Malay.

But BERJAYA's success did not last long, and 9 (months) is not always lucky. In Chinese, apart from nine it also sounds like long-lisitng. But it also sounds like dog! BERJAYA lost to an even younger party, the Sabah Unity People or PBS (less than 2 months old) 9 years later in 1985. And, believe it or not, PBS 'lost' (through defections) to Malaysia's ruling National Front (BN) coalition also 9 years later in 1994! However, the UMNO-led BN managed to break the 'zinx' and has been in power in Sabah for 15 years now! For the record, both USNO and BERJAYA have been dissolved or de-registered. But the irony was that USNO, one of Sabah's oldest party formed in preparation for Independence in the early 1960s, outlived BERJAYA by a few years! BERJAYA was dissolved in the late 1980s while USNO was de-registered in mid-1990s.

To conclude, I don't want to make any more promises which I may not be able to keep. But suffice for me to say that the 2nd anniversary of my blog hopefully will spur me on to blog more regularly from now on and, hopefully too, to continue with the BERJAYA story which I started two years ago. Many of my visitors had urged me to carry on but I explained that will depend on my having the time to get (and money, the photostat that is not cheap) the resources from the archives.

Hopefully too, it will spur me on to continue with the pilgrimage story (Trail of St Paul, Turkey) which was stopped temporarily. Again,my fellow pilgrims have urged me to continue, although we are now safely home. And although by now most of them have got my photos, they say seeing those pix in the Internet is something different. They can tell and show their friends and relatives all over the world about it.

To conclude a second time, we thank God that we are safely home and so far none of us have contracted the much talked-about H1N1 (which our Information Minister insisted should be called Swine Fever although our Health Minister had repeatedly said the disease did not come from pigs).

About two weeks after our return, a local daily newspaper reported that one of the then 4 Sabahans who caught the flu had just came back from Turkey! You can imagine our phones that day! We were busy answering calls and reassuring our callers that none of us was the patient concerned. He (or rather she) turned out to be a teacher in Kudat who had arrived from Istanbul a week later than us and who was not part of our entourage. Looking back, the $75 that we each spent on the jab at Dr Tan's before the trip was well-spent.Thank you Lord, for protecting us, including the safe journey home; what not after receiving news of the Air France plane crash while we were in Turkey!

Cheers! Aramaiti! Yoku boti!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary Fr. Fundes

Reverend Father Fundes Motiung (middle) was given a surprise cake in conjunction with his 11th anniversary as a Catholic Priest recently. The occasion was a thanksgiving reunion for 32 Sabahans who made a 2-week pilgrimage to Turkey from 29 May to 12 June. Fr. Fundes was the spiritual director for the pilgrimage which was made in conjunction with The Year of St Paul which ended last month. The social gathering was held at the residence of tour co-ordinator Linus Tokujip in Kinarut. Fr. Fundes was ordained on 6 July 1998 and is now the Rector of the Stella Maris in Tanjung Aru near Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in east Malaysia, otherwise known as Malaysian Borneo. Among those seen in the picture are Mrs Stella Tokujip (left), Sr. Rose Chew (on Fr.'s right) and Sr. Anna (on Fr.'s left).

One Malaysia at Work

As I am blogging to you, the new Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak (pic) is speaking at a function in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the 100th Day of his holding office. His speech, which he is still delivering, is being carried live over TV via RTM1.

But it is not his speech that I'm blogging about or which prompted me to write this new post. But rather, true to his promise of a new nation via 1Malaysia, I can't help but notice that protocol is kept to the minimum.

Except for the seats for the Prime Minister and his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin and the minister-in-charge of the function and live broadcast Dr Rais Yatim, it's free seating - meaning even ministers have to find their own seats. This resulted in some ministers who came later than others found themselves sitting on the floor below the stage, amongst students.

This new arrangement must have taken the VIPs by surprise. The Ministers, who are so used to being treated like VIPs or even VVIPs, must have registered their protests, even if quietly or discreetly. Much as they don't like it, some must have just kept quiet when told that it was the PM's directive.

Critics (there is never any shortage of them anywhere in the world) may say that the above was pre-planned or orchestrated to imporve the new PM's image. Well, even if it was orchestrated and of course it was pre-planned, it still shows Najib's sincerity in line with his 1Malaysia slogan where People Comes First. Since taking office 100 days ago, Najib has paid several surprise visits to public areas frequented by the people, mingling with the crowd and sitting down for a cup of Teh Tarik (Malaysia's version of Indian tea). He also told his Ministers and other leaders not to wait for invitations to go down to the ground and not to look forward to things which they are so used to like protocol and other niceties like garland, kompang (Muslim tamborine), red carpet and souvenirs.

Looks like his Ministers better get used to more surprises.

Najib is just about to finish his speech. He has just made 11 announcements, since today is 11th July. Refer to the Internet/Online News /TV and Radio news and tomorrow's papers for details.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Sabahan Does The State Proud (2nd Update)

Yesterday, Senator Armani Mahiruddin created history when she took her oath-of-office (pic) as the first woman Deputy President of the Dewan Negara or Senate, the Malaysian Parliament's Upper House. Malaysia, comprising the former Federation of Malay States or Malaya, Singapore, and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, came into being in 1963 after gaining independence from Britain. However, the island city state of Singapore left the federation in 1965 and is now a republic on its own.

That was from the Malaysian perspective. But from the perspective of Sabah, the 52-year-old former school teacher created another history - she was the first Sabahan to be appointed to the prestigious post. However, another Sabahan, the late Ben Stephens (brother of first Sabah Chief Minister from 1963-4, the late Donald Stephens, later Mohamad Fuad Stephens after he became a Muslim) was appointed to an even higher post - that of the Senate President in 1985 and remained there for a few years.

Armani's appointment was sort of an icing on the cake for her family's political achievements. She is sister of former Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat or House of Representatives, the Lower House of the Malaysian Parliament, Juhar Mahiruddin who is now Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly of Sabah; one of Malaysia's 13 States.

Armani is a member of the Supreme Council of the Pergerakan Wanita (Women's Wing) of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the major partner of Malaysia's ruling National Front or BN coalition. She also heads the Sabah Liaison Body for the Wanita and is chief of the movement's Libaran Division headed by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman. Prior to her appointment as Senator, she was a Board Member of the Sabah Housing & Town Development Authority (LPPB).

Her latest appointment came only days after the confirmation of the appointment of another Sabahan, Dr Oh Ei Sun, as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister; another first for a Sabahan. Only weeks earlier, Sabah saw the State's largest and most powerful representation yet in the Malaysian Cabinet headed by new Prime Minister Najib Razak. The new Cabinet now has four Sabahan full Ministers including, for the first time since 1963, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, brother of the Sabah Chief Minister. In the old days, Sabah used to have only one single Minister in the Malaysian Cabinet. What a difference!

Sabah, whose political leverage never really mattered to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian capital) in the past, saw a reversal of fortunes after Malaysia's 12th General Election last year which saw the ruling National Front doing badly; infact almost losing at the federal level and having lost 5 states plus the Federal Territory of KL. Suddenly, the voices of the leaders of Sabah (which has 24 BN Members of Parliament) and neighbouring Sarawak (with even more BN MPs) were being heard seriously for the first time.

The reason is simple - if only half of the Sabah and Sarawak BN MPs switch camps, then BN would lose control of the Central Government. Infact at one stage, a few months after the 8 March 2008 election, that possibility was real! Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had even set 16 September 2009 as the date by which his Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) coalition would take over! That however did not materialise, with Anwar offering a host of excuses of course.

Sabah and Sarawak suddenly saw an increase in their bargaining power which can no longer be ignored by then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad and his successor Najib Razak (April 2009 onwards). Following last year's election, a Sabahan (Pandikar Amin) is now for the first time the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. One of his deputies is also a Sabahan while the other deputy post went to a Sarawakian. And now you have another Sabahan as the Deputy Senate President.

This was something Sabahans and Sarawakians never dreamt of prior to last year's election. Even the Chairman of the Parliament Backbenchers' Club is a Sarawakian while his deputy is a Sabahan (Bung Mokhtar)!

Well done, Najib, keep it up! As your slogan says, OneMalaysia!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh's Appointment confirmed!

Last Sunday, I wrote that academician Dr Oh Ei Sun has been appointed Political Secretary to the Prime Minister; the first Sabahan to hold such prestigous post.

A Bernama report today said an official in the Prime Minister's Department has confirmed the appointment, effective June 16.

Congratulations, Dr Oh. You have done Sabah proud.

As a fellow Sabahan, there is only one thing I humbly ask of you: Don't let success gets to your head and don't 'kacang lupa kulit' (the peanut forgetting its skin). I have worked since 1973 and have seen too many people changed too quickly, just because they are given some power.

I would also like to quote someone: "Be nice to people on your way up because you are going to meet the same people on your way down." Again, I have witnessed this many times over the last few decades - ex-leaders being ignored by people when they become nobody. Some were even cursed or made fun of.