Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The race to join BN

After the 1969 Malaysian general elections which ended tragically with the May 13 racial riots that saw first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman stepping down in favour of Tun Abdul Razak, the Alliance Party, a coalition of UMNO, MCA and MIC which governed Peninsular Malaysia was expanded to become the National Front (BN) in order to accommodate the Gerakan party which had won and formed the state govenment in Penang and People's Progressive Party which made substantial in-roads into Perak state. In line with this, the ruling parties or coalitions in Sabah and Sarawak were asked to join BN so that one single coalition ruled the whole nation. But Sabah's Usno led by Tun Datu Mustapha was in no hurry to join as the 'old man' (as he was sometimes referred to by Sabahans) saw this as a ploy by Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia's capital) to clip his wings and control him. This further angered Tun Razak, who was already unhappy with him in the first place due to rumours that he was planing to take Sabah out of Malaysia; not to mention his extravagant ways and frequent trips overseas without Kuala Lumpur's approval.

However, after the birth of Berjaya which was formed with the blessings of Kuala Lumpur, Tun Mustapha started changing his tune. He denied that he was taking Sabah out of Malaysia and said Usno was always a part of the BN, or at least applying to. Berjaya, understandably, would use whatever influence it had in Kuala Lumpur to block Usno's entry into the BN; while at the same time urging BN headquarters to expedite the approval of its own (Berjaya's) application.

Thus, on July 19, 1975 the frontpage headline of Daily Express read: "USNO not a member of Barisan" with a sub-heading: "Barisan Denies USNO's Claim of Membership". The Daily Express' "Special Correspondent" in Kuala Lumpur was quoting a report from the Malay Mail, the national capital's first and only English afternoon daily newspaper. There is no need for me to repeat the report. (To see a larger view, please click on the image.)

The DE frontpage also carried a report with the heading "Nosob Pekemas members decide to be with Berjaya". The Berjaya leaders who attended the function at Nosob were led by party treasurer and Penampang division chief Datuk Peter Mojuntin. The fact that Mojuntin deemed it fit to 'conquer' Nosob which is only a village at a time when he should be busy visiting other districts or Usno divisions showed the importance of Nosob politically. This was because Nosob was a stronghold of Pekemas which at that time was 'the opposition' in Sabah until Berjaya's birth. (Sikmading says: The correct spelling of Nosob should be Nosoob which in Kadazan means "burnt". However, it s not clear what was burnt so that the village was named that way, the padi fields or the houses? Any reader can shed some light on this please?)

You will also notice in the frontpage that 'the Khalik' claimed that Tun Mustapha was in London and not Mecca at that time of the launch of Berjaya. I leave it to readers to make their own judgement.

At the left bottom of the frontpage (2nd image), there is a small advertisment put up by the 'Last Chance" bar about its Saturday Nite Dance. For the information of the younger readers, the Last Chance Bar was 'the place to be seen' and was those days' equivalent of today's Shenanigan or the pubs in KK's other tops hotels. Those days 5-star hotels were unheard of in KK, may be not even 4-star; the first international-standard hotel, the Kinabalu International Hotel (KIH) commenced business only about the same time Berjaya became the government in 1976. The KIH is now the Hyatt Kinabalu. I was only 21 years old then, just started working with a low salary and therefore could not afford to frequent the Last Chance despite its 'attractions'.

One of my readers has complained that I took too long to continue the ' history lessons on Sabah politics'. I took rest due to work pressure. Besides, I needed to go back to the archives for more materials. I'll try not to rest for too long from now on. My apologies though.

Yoku Boiti!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Have (Rotary) Wheels Will Travel

You would recall that in one of my recent postings I said I would be taking a short break as it was the season for dinner, dinner, and more dinner. One of the dinners that I was privileged to attend, as a guest, was the 19th Installation Nite of the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu South (KK South for short).

During the dinner, Mr Robert Liau (2nd left in 2nd picture) took over from Mr Andy Wong (3rd left) as President of the Club for the year 2007-8. Looking on in that pic are First Lady (as the Rotarians call their President's wife) Mrs Jenny Liau (left) and Mrs Cynthia Wong, the outgoing First Lady who is perhaps better known as PS Wong, the general manager of the Sabah Housing & Town Development Authority (LPPB). However, the Rotary system is such that Andy will still be in the Board as Immediate Past President (IPP) so Cynthia will be IPP's spouse.

Others installed that night along with Robert were president-elect Eddie Choong, vice-president Hj Abd Kadir Hj Abdullah, secretary Tan See Ang, treasurer Philip Chong, director of club service Ir Yam Wai Kit, director of community service Dr Ganeshanadha, director of vocational service Mahmod Tahir, director of international service Dr Charanjeet, director of service to new generation Jacek Rubczak, sergeant-at-arms Richard Chin, sports convenor George Chong and bulletin editor Datuk George Ginibun.

The guest-of-honour was Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Raymond Tan who was represented by Assistant Minister of Resource Development and IT, Puan Melanie Chia. Also present were Deputy Minister of Primary Industries and Commodities, Datuk Anifah Aman; and Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) vice-president and former State Secretary Tan Sri Simon Sipaun who delivered the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the guests. I will not touch on what the VIPs said in their speeches as those were already reported in the local press. I can't help but noticed, though, that the Minister commended Andy for his good performance during his tenure as reflected in the club being awarded the Presidential Citation by the Rotary International President.

I also noticed that the installation was attended by representatives of KK South's sister clubs from overseas namely the Rotary Clubs of Yuan Lin South West, Taiwan; Mandaue North, Cebu, Pilippines; Chinatown, Manila, Philippines; and Hong Kong North East. I was told that when these sister clubs hold their installations, KK South would also send their representatives to attend. How nice, and hence the title of this posting, Have (Rotary) Wheels Will Travel.

The 3rd to 5th pictures show Robert presenting local paintings depicting either Mount Kinabalu or the Sumazau dance to (from 3rd pic) First Lady Annabel of Chinatown, Manila witnessed by Past District Governor of the Rotary District 3810 of the Philippines, Rosie Goh (right); president Paul Beekman of Hong Kong; and president "Machine" of Taiwan.

I asked my host how come the Taiwanese club president's name was "Machine" and she explained that it was difficult to pronounce or spell the Taiwaneses' romanised names and so a code was invented to reflect the Rotarian's vocation. Thus, "Machine" signifies that the Rotarian is involved in machinery or similar field, a Rotarian dealing with paint is "Colour" and so on. And it seems this system is fine with the Taiwanese. Something new and unique I just learnt there!

Membership in the Rotary Club is by invitation only and Rotarians are normally drawn upon from different professions or vocations like lawyers, doctors, engineers, consultants, bankers, businessmen and so on but they normally won't have too many from a particular what they call 'Classification'. Thus, the size of a Rotary Club is never big. Obviously they want quality, not quantity. In the case of KK South, they have only 30 members.

The Rotary movement was founded in Chicago, USA in 1905 by Paul Harris, an attorney who gathered a group of men engaged in different vocations. They met in rotation at their various places of business and thus the name Rotary and the logo which resembles a rotating wheel (1st picture on top). The rest, as they say, is history and Rotary today has more than one million members in more than 32,000 Clubs worldwide; thus the term Rotary International. The highest award in the movement is the Paul Harris Fellowship, named after the founder.

The general objective of Rotary, as spelt out by Paul in that first meeting 102 years ago, is the development of fellowship and understanding among the various businesses and professions while promoting international understanding, goodwill, and peace. Rotary Clubs have a basic ideal, the 'Ideal Service' which is best expressed in Rotary's principal motto - Service Above Self. However, the theme changes every year and for 2007-8 it's 'Rotary Shares' and last year it was 'Lead The Way'.

I can't help but get attracted to the fact that Rotarians subscribe to what they call the Four-Way Test of the things they think, say or do; namely, 1. Is it the TRUTH?, 2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?, 3. Will it bring GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIP?, and 4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?.

They even have a what they call The Guide to Daily Living! It goes something like this: Before doing the things we want to do, consider first, the Precept of the Guide. Ask Ourselves these 4 questions and act upon them: 1. Have I Spent Some time in self-examination?, 2. Have I Spent quality time with my family?, 3. Have I given the best to my work?, and 4. Have I given some time to someone near and far?

This sounds a bit like the Catholics' examination of conscience before they go to the priest for confession prior to receiving the Holy Communion, but I guess in this rat-race and mad, mad world of ours being more spiritual or God-fearing and doing good to others won't hurt. The world's major religions have their own way of saying the Golden Rule, i.e. Do Unto Others What You Would Have Others Do Unto You and I see similarity between this teaching and the Rotarians' belief, although they are a strictly non-religious and non-racial service and fellowship club.

The Rotarians' Four-Way Test and Guide to Daily Living also reminded me of the teachings of Briton John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church , which goes like this: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

To sum up, all I can say is, if only everybody practises what Rotary preaches (the 4-Way Test + Guide to Daily Living) , then this world would be a better and more peaceful place to live in! Infact, another Sabah Minister who was guest-of-honour at KK South's installation last year to which I was also invited actually said this in his speech!

Yet another aspect of Rotary which interests me is that the post of President is rotated among club members each year, true to its name, and transition of power is smooth. Besides, since the club membership is small, practically everyone has the chance to be president! Perhaps governments of the world should learn from Rotary!

But only one year? Won't it be too short for the President to implement his plans, I asked? Normally, in an association by the time the chairman warms his seat and get things going, half-a-year is gone. But Rotarians don't have the problem of continuity for they work as a team and even have a President-elect's post who understudy the incumbent president. For starters, they meet every week (as opposed to the monthly meetings of most other associations) during which the Sergeant-at-Arms will impose fines on late-comers and those whose hand phones ring,among other 'offences'. Besides, apart from the normal office bearers, they have directors in charge of different aspects of the club's work so the question of the President being over-burdened doesn't arise.

For further information on Rotary International, please visit

Bye for now and thank you for your patience, but I've seen blog postings longer than this.

Cheers! (To Rotary International)

Yoku Boiti!

The Tun Returns

As I had hinted yesterday, the pro-Alliance Kinabalu Sabah Times on July 18, 1975 chose as its frontpage headline the Bernama story filed from Penang with the heading "Tun returns today 'to put things right'". The same story was only given a single-column treatment on the frontpage of the pro-Berjaya Daily Express.

You would notice that the Tun (as he was affectionately referred to by his followers, after all he was the first Sabahan to become a Tun, being the first Governor) had called a press conference in Penang five hours after he arrived from Mecca. The report also said that the Tun earlier had a three-hour meeting with the then Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Tan Sri (now Tun) Ghazali Shafie.

Why Penang and why the meeting with Ghazali? Why couldn't the old man flew straight home to Sabah where the political situation had somewhat become chaotic and the people confused following the birth of Berjaya? Well, what the report didn't say was that the Tun was in Penang to meet former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. The Tun was more or less a protege of the Tunku who acted as mediator in the meeting in which Ghazali represented Prime Minister Tun Razak (father of present Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Najib). The Tunku wanted to save the Usno government in general and the Tun's Chief Ministership in particular, knowing that Tun Razak was behind Berjaya's formation.

You would notice that the Tun had arrived in a special executive jet. The Gruman jet, together with another one owned by the Sabah government, was also the target of criticism by Berjaya, saying it was a wastage of public funds. Although the two jets were supposed to be for the use of Sabah leaders, no one else including the then Governor dared to ask permission from the Tun to use them! One of the first acts of the Berjaya government after the 1976 state election was to sell thetwo aircrafts.

You would also notice that the report stated that the Tun had been to Mecca to perform the Umrah (minor Haj) and not London. To be fair to the late Tun (may his soul rest in peace) I don't really know where he had been but Berjaya insisted that the old man was in London having a good time. (Please see yesterday's report, what Mojuntin said.)

The headline had a sub-heading "No Break Away From Malaysia". This statement from the Tun was very necessary and it was what Kuala Lumpur wanted to hear as this break away allegation was one of the reasons behind Berjaya's formation, prompted by the late Razak. Apparently, in the Penang meeting brokered by the Tunku, the mentor made sure that his protege made that statement to calm Kuala Lumpur down at least for the time being.

Also in the frontpage was a report saying that the Federal Deputy Minister of Defence, Datuk Haji Dzulkifli Abdul Hamid (now the late) would remain in Usno and not join Berjaya as speculated. Dulkifli was one of Sabah's fastest rising political stars at that time, to the extent he was seen as a potential future Chief Minister. He joined the Sabah civil service after graduating from New Zealand and was soon made Tuaran district officer. It was during this time that he was active in the Sabah National Youth Association (SANYA) whose president was the Tun himself. The old man soon promoted the young graduate to become Under Secretary to the Chief Minister. Before long, he was further promoted as Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister and later a federal deputy minister, thus causing the envy or even jealousy of others. Dzul (as he was popularly known among the youths, me included) was rumoured to be one of the founder members of Berjaya but there were also rumours that he wasn't acceptable to Harris. In any case, given the situation at that time, I think Dzul made the right choice by staying in Usno for he would soon be further promoted to a full Sabah Cabinet Minister, and a Finance portfolio at that!

Also on the frontpage was a report that the Usno youth wing led by Datuk Haji Sakaran Dandai (now Tun Sakaran, the retired Governor) pledged full support to the Tun.

Lastly, there was a report which says "State Cabinet meets." According to the report, the meeting was chaired by Finance Minister Habib (not even the DCM Tan Sri Said). Also present, the report added, was Youth & Sports Minister Sakaran. My understanding of this report is that there were only two Mnisters present at that meeting. How can this be? Fom what I know, the quorum needed for a State Cabinet meeting to convene at that time was five(there were 9 ministers then including the CM). The report went on to say that the meeting was attended by 15 State Assemblymen. Again,how can this be as the Assemblymen were not members of the Cabinet? My guess is that it was just a gathering of the Assemblymen led by the two Ministers (others were probably already in Penang to welcome the Tun) but they made it look like a Cabinet meeting just to reassure Sabahans that the Alliance government was still intact and Usno still very much in control. But this is insulting the itelligence of Sabahans!

Yoku Boiti!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Penampang Conquered!

Sorry folks, I have been away for a week, duty calls. Although I am a bit tired after filing the story of the inaugural KK Jazz Fest a couple of hours ago (just to keep my promise to a friend), I don't mind burning the midnight oil to file you this posting before I go to bed, as many of my readers have complained that I have kept them in suspense for too long on what happened next between the newly-formed Berjaya party and the Usno-dominated Alliance party which had ruled Sabah since the first direct general election in 1967.

Well, as can be seen from the news clippings above, two days after launching Berjaya in Kota Kinabalu and a day after 'capturing' party president Harris Salleh's native Labuan, its leaders next 'conquered' Penampang, often described as 'the heartland of Kadazan nationalism.' Thus, the Daily Express' (July 18, 1975) banner headline read: "Penampang one hundred percent for BERJAYA". Please click on the images for a larger view as I won't repeat in details what the pro-Berjaya newspaper said to save space and time.

Having launched Berjaya and having fired the first salvo in Labuan, the new and young (compared to the Usno old guards) party leaders went full steam ahead by establishing a foothold in Penampang on the outskirts of the State Capital. Except this time Datuk Harris wasn't there, probably busy plotting Berjaya's next move and at the same time busy welcoming new supporters at his Likas home. The highest-ranking Berjaya officials present were party treasurer Datuk Peter Mojuntin (now the late, his son Donald is the current Penampang MP) and ex-Minister Salleh Sulong. Infact, there was no need for Harris to be there. This is because Penampang was to Mojuntin what Tambunan was (later) to Pairin who at that point of time was Berjaya assistant secretary-general. To illustrate my point, Penampang, just like Labuan, dissolved all its Usno branches and turned them into Berjaya's.

Although I won't repeat what was already said in the paper, I just want to draw your attention to one part of Mojuntin 's speech when he said: "...I want you all to know that Tun Mustapha has no power of arresting anyone any longer. For this we must thank the Central Government." This is important because it was the first time the ordinary Sabahans were to know about the cancellation of the Chief Minister's power of detention, something which had made them think twice before supporting the opposition for many years, not wanting to end up in the 'University of Kepayan'.

Mojuntin went on to say: "I can also assure you all that the Armed Forces and the Police Force of Sabah will do their duty when called upon to do so to protect you and your right as a free people in a free nation." I touch on this because on the front page you can see a photo with the caption that the Yang di Pertua Negara (Governor) gave a farewell party to the out-going Sabah Commissioner of Police, Datuk Yusof Shah. On the same page, you will see a statement by the new Commissioner, Yusoff Khan warning law breakers and rumour mongers that they will be severely dealt with according to the law. It was an open secret that the Malaysian government, which controlled the police, transferred Yusof Shah on the request of Berjaya for he was closely associated with Tun Mustapha.

Meanwhile, Berjaya also announced that it had increased its strength in the State Assembly to eleven (out of 32 elected) when Lahad Datu assemblyman Johari Arief and his Ranau couterpart Ghani Ahmad left Usno to join the new party. Berjaya also claimed that 3 more Members of Parliament had joined them, bringing the total to four. The 3 were Robert Evans (Keningau), Thaufeck Asneh (Hilir Padas) and Rashid Jais (Ulu Padas). The 4th was Federal Minister Datuk Ghani Gilong who was also Berjaya vice-president.

You will also see a single-column story that says "Mustapha returns today" but I won't dwell on this now. I will do it in m next posting partly because the Kinabalu Sabah Times, Daily Express' rival, would give a better coverage to this story.

Till then, 'Yoku Boiti'.

KK's Inaugural Jazz Fest

Yes, as the above title suggests, the first-ever Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival will be held in Sabah's state capital this Saturday August 11, 2007 beginning at 6.00pm. And organiser Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (KK) promised that it will be a spectacular six-hour world-class affair, with more than 20 international and local musicians performing against the what-can-be-more dramatic sunset backdrop of the South China Sea at the Jesselton Point, the old KK jetty.

Added Roger Wang of Society of Performing Arts KK, Sabah (SPArKs), the co-organiser: "The one-day charity event will be sensational as internationally-acclaimed artistes like Farid Ali a.k.a Mr Gambus (Malaysia), Denise Mininfield (USA), Asif Pishori (Britain) and Jame Vielma (Venezuela) will be there. 'One-day' because the performances by the five groups will be preceeded by two workshops for the public by master musicians beginning 11.00am at the Rock School. The drum and bass workshop will be conducted by John Thomas and Prof Hanafie respectively while Roger himself will do, why, of course the guitar while gambus will be handled by none other than Mr Gambus.

The local artistes performing that evening will be spearheaded by Roger, arguably the finest finger-style jazz guitarist in Sabah if not Malaysia. Teaming up with Roger will of course be the other half of his Double Take duo, Mia Palencia, again arguably the best jazz singer in Sabah and one of the best in Malaysia. Others include the Jazzelton Quintet comprising June Tan, Prof Hanafie, Mohd Imam, Mohd Nizam, Vincent Chin and Mohd Shaun. For more infor on June Tan, the lawyer-turned pianist/singer, please visit her webite at

Tickets to the evening performances are priced at RM100 and RM50 per person while students pay just RM30. Considering that this is a charity event and that international artistes are involved, the ticket price is cheap, remarked a local music enthusiast.

Further information can be obtained by logging on to or e-mail Other co-organisers of the event are KK City Hall and Sabah Tourism Board (tel. Sri Pelancongan 088-232121) while the main sponsor is DIGI Telecommunications who will be giving away prizes during the festival.

So please come one, come all, Sabahans and tourists like especially music enthusiats, please give your full support so as to make this inaugural KK Jazz Fest a success and so that it will be included in next year's state tourism calender of events. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step, so who knows one day we will be on par with the famous Rainforest Music Festival of Kuching and the International Music Festival of Penang. Thank you from me, Sikmading, myself a musician/guitarist since my school days decades ago.