Sunday, August 30, 2009

In defense of SJD (Update 2)

I read with surprise and almost disbelief a Daily Express front page report Sunday titled "Appointment Is Revoked".

According to the writer, Elizabeth Majaham, the Local Government and Housing Ministry has revoked the appointment of former Sabah Housing & Town Development Authority (LPPB) general manager Sylvester Jomitod Disimon (SJD) (pic above) as Penampang District Chief which is supposed to take effect on Tuesday 1 September 2009.

The reporter quoted Penampang Native Chief Johhny Molijoh who in turn quoted Penampang district officer (DO) William Sampil. (A District Chief or DC is more senior than a Native Chief or NC as he is in charge of an entire district as his title suggests or at least a State constituency whereas an NC is only in charge of a Mukim or cluster of villages. A DC may thus have several NCs under him.)

Johnny claimed that William had told him Friday that a revocation letter was given to SJD through the DO. The Daily Express article was reproduced by SJD in his blog,, today. In fact, SJD's blog had carried almost all the news reports about this 'controversy' from the start; although some of the statements were not favourable to him. I find this rather 'gentlemanly' on the part of SJD.

In his latest posting today (as of my time of writing), SJD confirmed receiving the 'revocation' letter and that he respected the Ministry's decision to impose the "cooling-off" period in view of the 'heat' generated by out-going DC Christopher Mojungkim and his 'supporters'.

Let us start from the beginning. It all started when the Borneo Post reported sometime early August that SJD had the previous day submitted his acceptance letter as DC effective 1.9.2009 to the DO who delivered it on behalf of the Sabah Native Affairs office director.

The incumbent DC, Christopher immediately issued a statement to Daily Express saying, among other things, that he felt embarassed and humiliated that he came to know of SJD's appointment and his impending removal only through the Press; that he deserved to be told personally; that he was not too old to continue serving; etc, etc. Chris' statement was supported and elaborated upon the following days by, among others, the so-called Penamapng Native Welfare Association (wonder if it's registered and can't bother to remember the name of its head) and, surprisingly, opposition figure Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. Even PBS, a fellow BN component party of UPKO whose leaders are both the Assemblyman and MP in Penampang, joined in the fray.

I can't remember who said what, but among the accusations hurled against SJD and the government (I'm just saying it in general) were that the BN parties should have been consulted; that the views of the KadazanDusun Cultural Association (KDCA) and not just Kadazan Society of Sabah (KSS) be considered and so on. Jeffrey even, surprisingly, accused UMNO of "bullying" other component parties of Penampang BN by pushing through SJD's appointment. I won't waste my time and energy to repeat everything here, those interested can either look for old newspapers or visit SJD's blog.

Sikmading says: 1. Looking back and speaking with the benefit of hindsight, SJD should perhaps not brought along a reporter (Borneo Post) when he submitted his acceptance letter to the DO. I'm just assuming that it was he who informed the reporter. It could have been the DO's office or Penampang Native Court. But then again, there was nothing wrong, not legally at least. It was SJD's right to inform the whole world that he has been appointed the new DC come 1st Sept and that he was accepting it, that's all. Some people are Press-savvy, some are not. Some are publicity shy, some are not. It's the individual's right, say what you like. It's also up to the individual to shoulder any consequences of his actions. It's a free world. To cut the long story short, my point is SJD committed no wrong by publicising the event and it certainly DID NOT disqualify him from his appointment which had already been made in the first place.

2. Secondly, again speaking with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps SJD should not have visited his new office after the above event while there is still an incumbent and especially when the latter was not aware of it. I can understand Chris' feelings. But we don't know what excatly transpired during or after the visit to the DO's office that day. SJD could have been prompted by the DO himself and the couple of Native Chiefs who were present. It's human nature to 'angkat kaki' (curry favour) with your new or in-coming boss, isn't it? Whatever it is, the above unfortunate incident, whether it was tactful or otherwise, SHOULD NOT disqualify SJD as he was the in-coming DC anyway. If any 'offence' had been committed, it was at best 'lack of tactfulness or sensitivity', that's all. Perhaps an apology from SJD to Chris (who happens to be his 2nd cousin) would help cool things down but this must come from SJD only if he wants to, nobody should force him. Whatever it is, this unfortunate incident DOES NOT disqualify SJD!

3. Chris said he was embarassed and humiliated that he had to learn of the termination of his appointment through the Press. It was not the job or responsibility of SJD to inform Chris, much less to make sure that the latter had received his termination letter by then. It was the job of the Native Affairs office and the DO office, and we don't know who caused the delay; if Chris' statement were to be believed. SJD was merely submitting his acceptance letter, that's all. He did not commit a crime! Don't tell me just because Chris had not received his letter was enough ground to disqualify SJD?

4. As to the accusations or statements that the BN parties should have been consulted, well, consultations need not neccessarily bring about agreement or a concensus. In the end, no candidate may be agreed upon and the people suffer. In any case, as far as I know, the norm is that it is the prerogative of the Wakil Rakyat or YB (from the governing party, of course) to recommend to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing through the Native Affairs office. In this case, I understand that SJD had the reccommendations of not just the Assemblyman (Donald Mojuntin) but also the MP (Bernard Dompok). Everything was above board. In any case, as SJD pointed out in his blog today, was NC Johnny and NC Adrian Sikawah's appointments discussed with the component parties? I might as well add that did the PBS YBs elsewhere in Sabah discuss with or get the blessings of other component leaders at the constituency level before submitting the names of their nominees, not just for the DC or NC posts but any other political appointees? I say this because the Moyog PBS leader was among those who queried SJD's appointment publicly. Is issuing a public statement against another component party consultation? Was that in the spirit of BN?

5. Jeffrey's statement - how did Jeffrey know that UMNO "bullied" others? Who gave him this bright idea? Your guess is as good as mine. All claimants to the DC throne are supposed to be pro-BN men and therefore if anyone turned to the opposition for personal gain, then this person does not deserve the coveted crown anyway. By the way, Dr Jeffrey, how can UMNO "bully" when SJD's name was submitted by Donald Mojuntin and Bernard Dompok both of whom are from UPKO?

6. The presence of KSS people at the DO office - Was it legally wrong for these people to be present? Was it wrong for these people to share the joy of SJD, their Deputy Sabah President and Penampang head? Charity begins at home. Are KSS members of Penampang not tax-paying citizens too? Don't they pay rates to the Penampang district council? Don't they vote? Are they not rakyat and anak negeri whom the Native Court is supposed to look after? Does bringing them disqualify SJD? Had SJD been a KDCA leader (which he once was) would the KDCA members make noise? Hasn't KSS been well-received by the Kadazans of Penampang as evidenced by the big crowds that turned up during their district-level functions? Jeffrey also singled out KSS president Datuk Marcel Leiking whom he described as an UMNO leader. Poor Marcel! Even if it were true that Marcel recommended SJD, so what? That's his right! He had every right to nominate his KSS deputy president just as Pairin had every right to nominate someone from KDCA! It's up to the YBs to accept or not! The YBs are not children whom Marcel can manipulate! It was just a co-incidence that Marcel was from UMNO. He could have been from DAP but he is still the KSS president! Don't insult our intelligence by suggesting that Donald and Bernard preferred UMNO man Marcel's choice over their own UPKO choice! SJD was accepted partly because of his experience as a head of government department and his family lineage of district/native/village chiefs! Wouldn't it be nice to have a former head of department as the District Chief? It's historic and something to be proud of for the Kadazans! Besides,what is there to stop Jeffrey or the PBS Moyog divisional head to make their own recommendations? The fact that John Masabal did not make one showed that even he understood that it's the YBs', and not his, prerogative! Just as it's the PBS YBs' prerogative to make recommendations in their areas!

Lastly, I don't think it was a permanent revocation letter. From what I understand, it's just KIV or put on hold, I think. As SJD himself pointed out, just cooling-off period. SJD and not Chris here, I think is the victim. He is innocent. He's the scapegoat.

Please also read my visitors' comments below.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sabah Celebrity in the News....

You can be in the news either for the right or wrong reasons. If it's for the right reason, then one would certainly welcome the publicity. If it's for the wrong reason, it's certainly not something that one looks forward to, especially if you are a celebrity.

Recently, Sabah-hailed Malaysian TV personality Daphne Iking (bottom picture) found herself in exactly the same situation - being in the news for the wrong reason. It's certainly not welcome news, conisdering that she's a public figure and celebrity.

Just two-and-a-half years ago, Daphne, a former Kadazan beauty queen, got married to fellow-Malaysian Ryan Chong in Bali, said to be one of the most romantic places on earth to tie the knot. I mean, who doesn't envy a friend getting married on the romantic Indonesian island of Bali? Daphne has since gave birth to Isobel who is now 21 months old.

Although I do not know much about Ryan's background or what he does for a living, I had no doubt that theirs would be a match made in heaven and sealed on a romantic island like Bali. I mean, for Daphne to have agreed to marry him when she could have concentrated on her successful career for at least a few more years, she must have loved him very much and vice versa.

As a fellow-Sabahan, I wished the couple well. So imagine my shock when I read in the newspapers last week that Ryan has dragged a businessman to court for "enticing" his wife, citing Section 498 of the Penal Code which reads: "enticing or taking away or detaining with a criminal intent a married woman."

Wow! My immediate reaction (as a former Pressman) was: "This is going to be juicy. The Press, especially the tabloids, would love it." Such is the cruelty of society, bearing in mind that it was the Paparazzi that killed Princess Diana. I had heard of "All Good Things Must Come To An End" but must this happen to a marriage, especially that of a seemingly perfect one?

By the way, although the man accused of enticing Daphne was described as a "Corporate Figure", he didn't turn out to be a well-known tycoon as his name did not immediately ring a bell (to me at least). His name: Choy Khin Ming (upper picture). He looks relatively young compared to other corporate figures and handsome too (which helps explain the alleged enticing). Surprisingly, Ryan's picture was not published; not in the Star at least where I got the above pictures from.

Looks like the case, though juicy since the plaintiff has produced 'evidence' including passport copies, invoices and e-mails, is going to be more complicated and intersting rather than straight-forward as between a plaintiff and defendant. This is because Daphne surprised both parties (or rather both men) when the trial opened by sending two lawyers who claimed they were holding a watching brief for her and may file to ask questions later.

Daphne's lawyers' presence not only took the court by surprise, they indirectly gave an indication of whose side Daphne is on when they told the magistrate that they would make a formal application to challenge the summons and the constituionality of Section 498.

"It is archaic and no longer has a place in society. It is a total affront to women to suggest that we can be so easily enticed and so stupid enough to be enticed," said one of Daphne's lawyers who is a woman.

The case has been adjourned to September. In the meantime, it looks like Ryan has to fight more than just the defendant - but his wife too.

(Footnote: Daphne is the daughter of a former policeman-turned-lawyer/banker Moses Iking who hails from Tambunan in Sabah's interior, best known for producing Huguan Siou (Paramount Chief of the Kadazan-Dusun people), Joseph Pairin whose popularity overthrew the then Berjaya government in 1985. Ironically, Moses challenged Pairin for the Tambunan state seat in the 2008 general election won by Pairin.)

Miss Universe 2009 (Part 2)

JoannaBelle, from Kota Kinabalu, is of Chinese-Indian ancestry

Although Miss Malaysia 2009, JoannaBelle Ng Li Vun did not make it to the Top 15 in the just-concluded Miss Universe 2009 held in Bahamas this morning (Malaysian time), Malaysians from the Borneo state of Sabah are still proud of her. The 21-year-old model is from Sabah, one of the so-called two east Malaysian states situated on Borneo island; the other being Sarawak.

Infact, the year 2009 has so far been a good year for Sabah beauties. Not only did the Miss Malaysia/Universe 2009 come from Sabah, so did the first runner-up, Cassandra Patrick, pictured above with JoannaBelle (centre). Cassandra is on the left. On the right is 2nd runner-up, Claudia Tania Sibert (this name sounds east-Malaysian too!).

Miss Universe 2009

Miss Photogenic from Thailand

Miss Congeniality from China

'The Donald' (Centre) with Miss Universe 2009 (left) and Miss Universe 2008, both from Venezuela.

Miss France during the evening dress segment.

The moment of truth...and the winner is...

From Venezuela to Venezuela...

We did it again...two up for Venezuela

The much-awaited Miss Universe 2009 is finally known after the finals held at Atlantis hotel complex in Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas this morning (Sunday night US time).

She is Miss Venezuela, Stephania Fernandez. She is the second Venezuelan candidate to win the coveted world title in two consecutive years. She was crowned by Miss Venezuela/Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza. When interviewed during her last walk as Miss Universe 2008, Dayana said her proudest moment upon being crowned last year was being able to bring the Miss Universe crown back to Venezuela after 12 years!

The first runner-up is Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz.

There were no Asians among the top 5, but there was plenty of consolation when Miss Thailand won the subsidiary title of Miss Photogenic while Miss China was proclaimed Miss Congeniality.

Although Miss Malaysia did not make it to the Top 15, the consolation for east Malaysians is that she is from Sabah.

Among those present at the pageant was, who else, but the owner of Miss Universe organization, Donald Trump or better known as 'The Donald'.

Photos courtesy of The Sun, Malaysia.