Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christians Free to Use Allah

The High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur today declared that the ban on Christians using the word "Allah" is invalid.

Justice Lau Bee Lan ruled that the Home Ministry has failed to show how the use of the word "Allah" by Christians can create confusion among Muslims.

The case was filed by The Herald, a weekly-publication of the Roman Catholic Church. The Home Ministry had initially banned the Herald from using the word "Allah".

The Herald had sought to seek a nullification of the ban. The decision by the Home Ministry to ban the word by Christians is baffling. Christians, especially in Sabah and Sarawak have used the word "Allah" long before the formation of Malaysia. The word "Allah" has become part of the Christian tradition in the Malay Archipelago.

Therefore the High Court's decision is most welcome. Christians however should not be too overjoyed, as the Home Ministry has yet to make a stand on whether it would appeal the decision.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Professor Makes Wild Accusation Against Christians

Recently, a renowned Muslim professor from Malaya, Dr.Ridhuan Tee Abdullah had written a politically-charged article in the Malayan-based Malay-language daily, Utusan Malaysia* which could upset the feelings of native Christians in Sabah and maybe even in Sarawak.

His article entitled "Tuduhan Penjahat Lebih Baik dari Berjahat" which translates as "Being Accused of a Crime is Better Than Committing a Crime" had many underlying political tones. It is very unfortunate however that in doing so he has touched on religious sensitivities.

In one line he wrote the following:

Selama inipun mereka tidak pernah menggunakan kalimah Allah di negara kita, kenapa secara tiba-tiba kalimah Allah hendak digunakan? Tidak lain dan tidak bukan adalah strategi jahat mereka untuk mengelirukan umat Islam supaya mengikut agama mereka.

Translated, the above means:

"All this while they (Christians) have never used the word Allah in this country,so why now all of a sudden they want to use it? This is an evil strategy to confuse Muslims into converting to Christianity."

This so-called professor had demonstrated his ignorance here and he dares calls himself a professor. Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians have used the word "Allah" long before the formation of Malaysia.

It has never been an issue until religious extremists within the ruling coalition decided to make it an issue. If there is anyone with evil strategies here, it must be Dr.Ridhuan who is trying to confuse Muslims into thinking that the use of the word Allah is very recent and aimed at confusing Muslims!

We should be wondering then whether the title of his article is about himself!

*this newspaper though based in Malaya, is easily available in Sabah

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The North Borneo Herald wishes all its readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2009! Thank you for supporting the North Borneo Herald.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

English is the Language of the Courts in Sabah and Sarawak

A high court in Malaya recently dismissed a case filed by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the latter's case was filed in English. The judge who threw out the case stated that Malay is the official language of Malaysia, therefore all court cases should be filed in the Malay language.

However this is not true for all of Malaysia. In Sabah and Sarawak, the official language of the courts are English, therefore any case filed in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in the English language is valid. And any case in the Court of Appeal or Federal Court which originates from a high court in Sabah and Sarawak too shall be allowed to be filed in English.

This is provided for in Article 161 of the Federal Constitution. So please note here that the judge who threw out Anwar's case was not speaking for the whole of Malaysia.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Seditious Book

The North Borneo Herald has received report of a highly seditious book that is being allowed to be sold in Malaysia. Whether this book has reached bookstores in Sabah is not known.

But so far the book has been made available in bookstores in Kuala Lumpur. The book written in the Malay language takes a swipe at Christianity and accuses Christians of trying to propagate the religion to Muslims.

It also seems that there is an entire chapter in the book about the alleged confession of a former Roman Catholic priest. The North Borneo Herald has learnt that this chapter is purely fictional and is aimed at confusing Muslims and inciting them to be suspicious of Christians.

The book also accuses Christians of propagating their faith under the guise of providing aid to the needy around the world.

There are many other lies leveled at Christians and the Christian church in this book. The book also accuses Christianity as a threat to Muslims!

Though Christians could easily recognize this book as pure rubbish, Muslims who read this book might be duped into hating Christians. This does not augur well for the harmony of the nation. It is hoped the authorities concerned would ban this book with immediate effect.

Details of the book are as follows:

Title of Book:Gerakan Orientalisme & Kristianisasi
Colour:Yellow (paperback)
Author:Haji Nik Azran Muhamed & Haji Mohd Mahadi Haji Isa
Publisher:Hijjaz Records Publishing
Year: May 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bible Knowledge, Iban and Kadazandusun Languages

The decision by the Federal Cabinet to allow students taking the Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) examination to sit for a maximum of 12 subjects is most welcome.

When the government had earlier limited the number of subjects to 10, it was worrisome to many students in Sabah and Sarawak. This is because in Sabah and Sarawak apart from the six core subjects and the 3 elective subjects, many students also sit for the Bible Knowledge paper.

It is learned that this year many students had to drop the Bible Knowledge paper when the government imposed the 10 subject limit. Apart from Bible Knowledge, many Iban students in Sarawak also sit for the Iban language paper.

In Sabah, by 2012, students would have the opportunity to sit for the Kadazandusun language paper. So apart from the 6 core and 3 elective subjects that they have to sit, they would be sitting for 2 additional papers, making them a total of 11 papers.

Therefore the government's previous limit of 10 was not good for students in East Malaysia. It is therefore heartening to note that the government has decided to increase the number of subjects SPM candidates could sit for.

The government's latest decision is therefore hailed.

LATEST UPDATE: The government has decided that the additional 2 subjects would not count in determining the SPM grade. This has been opposed by several NGOs in West Malaysia. The North Borneo Herald regrets the governments decision and hopes NGOs from Sabah and Sarawak would also present a memorandum to the authorities concerned.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Biro Tata Negara, Sabah and Sarawak

There has been much debate in the press lately about the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) course. The BTN course is supposedly aimed at creating patriotism among civil servants and students of public universities.

BTN made the news recently when the Selangor state government barred all of its civil servants from attending the BTN course. Many opposition leaders also slammed the BTN for indoctrinating participants with racist propaganda that only serve to divide Malaysians.

Many leaders gave their views and finally Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Nazri Abdul Aziz admitted that the BTN needs to be revamped in order to promote a united Malaysia.

Unfortunately there seem to be little or no opinion at all from leaders of both Sabah and Sarawak. This is saddening. The leaders of Sabah and Sarawak should make their voices audible to the general public so that the people know that they are concerned as leaders of the people.

Any revamp of the BTN course too should include modules on the formation of Malaysia. Participants must know of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 signed between the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, Singapore and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Participants must also know of events leading to the agreement such as the Inter-Governmental Committee and the Cobbold Commission as well as the reactions of the peoples of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore at that time.

Thirdly, they must also know of the 20-point condition imposed by Sabah and the 18-point condition imposed by Sarawak for Malaysia to be formed. Participants must also be made aware of certain articles of the Federal Constitution that are not applicable in Sabah and Sarawak.

Fourthly, participants must also be introduced to the cultures and religions of indigenous Sabahans and Sarawakians.

Only when participants truly know their own country can the BTN claim itself to be an instrument to inculcate patriotism.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Allowing Conversion or Giving Recognition to Religious Status?

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism,Sikhism and Taoism (MBCCHST) has urged the authorities to allow S.Banggarma, an ethnic Indian girl from Penang to convert out of Islam (see

It seems that Banggarma is a Hindu girl who was raised in an orphanage in Kedah. During her stay at the orphanage, she was converted to Islam. At the age of 15, she ran away from the centre and reverted to her faith of Hinduism. Later she married a Hindu man according to Hindu rites and bore two children. However her marriage is not legally recognized by the Malaysian government as according to her national registration records, she is officially a Muslim.

And according to Malaysian law, a Muslim cannot enter into a marriage according to non-Islamic religious rites. This has resulted in both her children having birth certificates without their father's name. This is awkward however as there are no provisions in the Birth and Registration Act saying a marriage must be legal for a birth certificate to have the child's father's name on it.

However, going back to what the MCCBCHST had said, we can conclude thet the MCCBCHST's demand for Banggarma to be allowed to convert out of Islam is not appropriate. This is because Banggarma is NOT A MUSLIM. She is a Hindu. All she wants is for the National Registration Department to recognize her as a Hindu. There is no reason for her to convert out of Islam, as she is a non-Muslim.

As for certain Muslim leaders urging Banggarma to seek redress in the Sharia court, this is also not appropriate. The Sharia court only has jurisdiction over those professing the religion of Islam, as the MCCBCHST rightly pointed out.

Since she is a Hindu, why should she go to the Sharia court? This is the same with the case of Fatimah Tan* in Penang, where she had to go to the Sharia court to supposedly convert out of Islam. The fact is that Fatimah Tan was never a Muslim in the first place. Her supposed conversion was only to enable her to marry an Iranian Muslim man. This is also confusing as the Iranian is a Shi'ite, and the Shi'a sect is not recognized as Islam in Malaysia!

So far, only the Sharia court in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah has rightly ruled in such a case involving one Roslinda from Kuala Penyu in 2007**. In the case, Sharia High Court judge Jasri Najip Majakir ruled that the Sharia court has no jurisdiction to allow apostasy (conversion out of Islam) and that it had no jurisdiction in matters involving Article 11(1)(freedom of religion) of the Federal Constitution. This means Roslinda can take her case to the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak.

However the North Borneo Herald has not received any reports about Roslinda seeking a solution in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak. She could use the Malaysia Agreement to her advantage. No one has ever used the Malaysia Agreement in cases involving religion in the courts. However a Federal Court decision had ruled in favour of the Malaysia Agreement***. In that case, the Federal Court ruled that it is against the Malaysia Agreement 1963 for lawyers from out of Sabah and Sarawak making representations in the appeals court for cases originating from these two states.

Banggarma can try her case at the High Court of Malaya, however she would not be as lucky as Roslinda if the latter had filed her case in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, as Roslinda has the Malaysia Agreement to fall back on. However the point here is not about converting out of Islam. It is about the right to be recognized as being a follower of one's own religion.

* The Star, March 16 2009
**Daily Express March 29, 2007
***Daily Express, April 22, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

26 Seats if KDM Parties Unite!

In an earlier article, the North Borneo Herald had commented on the need for the Kadazandusun-based parties within the Barisan Nasional (BN) to unite. Here we would take a look at one benefit of having Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun-Murut Organization (UPKO)to merge.

As we all know during the 2008 state elections, PBS was allocated 13 seats, UPKO 6 and PBRS 1. Together these parties were allocated 20 seats. Two of these seats are Chinese-majority seats allocated to PBS. Unfortunately, PBS lost one of these Chinese seats, namely Sri Tanjung. This shows the level of support the PBS has among voters who are non-Kadazandusuns or non-Muruts.

At the same time, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) had contested in 32 seats, four of them being Kadazandusun-majority seats and one Murut-majority seat. These seats are Karanaan, Kemabong, Liawan, Pitas and Sugut. The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) on the other hand contested one Kadazandusun-majority seat allocated to it. Though the MCA won on two occassions, the votes it garnered show that majority of voters in Kepayan are against MCA contesting there. The only reason MCA won in 2004 and 2008 was because there were too many candidates contesting against it.

Now, it is no secret that PBS and UPKO have lobbied for Kadazandusun and Murut majority state constituencies. But when two parties lobby for a same seat, what happens is that the seat would go to UMNO. If PBS, PBRS and UPKO are united they could stake claim to all 24 Kadazandusun-majority seats as follows:

1.N3. Pitas
2.N4. Matunggong
3.N5. Tandek
4.N7. Kadamaian
5.N9. Tamparuli
8.N17.Tanjung Aru
11.N26.Kuala Penyu

And if this merger materializes and its leaders ask for the allocation of Sri Tanjung and Api Api to PBS to be retained, they could contest 26 seats in the state assembly, only one less than UMNO's 27! This could give the Kadazandusuns and Muruts a greater say in the state assembly and the government.

Opposition supporters who in the past voted against the Barisan Nasional (BN) too might change their mind and vote for the BN since they see an increased participation by Kadazandusun and Murut leaders.

So, the opportunity for the KDMs to return to political prominence in Sabah is great. The ball is now in the hands of the Kadazandusun-Murut leaders in the BN.

*according to the Election Commission's statistics, some of the state assembly seats listed above may show a large portion of supposedly-Malay voters. This however points to the large number of Kadazandusuns who have converted to Islam, especially in Karanaan, Kundasang, Paginatan and Bingkor. These seats are in fact non-Malay majority.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Timely For KDM Parties To Merge

At their respective recently held party congresses Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok made some important demands to the Federal government.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president, Pairin had asked the Federal government to set a deadline in 2012 to eradicate the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah. United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun-Murut (UPKO) president Dompok meanwhile, had asked the government to return to its practise of allowing the use of the Malay language in Christian worship.

But we wonder how strong are the voices of these two Sabahan leaders in getting the immediate attention of the Federal goverment. The Kadazandusun and Murut communities are divided between three political parties in the ruling coalition namely PBS, UPKO and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS). There are also a number of kadazandusuns and Muruts in other ruling partners.

Would it not be better if PBS, PBRS and UPKO merge to form a united front so that their voices would be clearer. And so that they can truly claim to be the sole authoritative political representative of the Kadazandusuns and Muruts in the ruling coalition.

Not very long ago, the leaders of these three parties held a "mibabas" (peace making event) but nothing came out of it. Earlier than that, there were talks that UPKO and PBRS would merge, but nothing happened.

It is high time leaders of these parties make sacrifices to benefit the KDM communities. The people are willing to forgive, so it is now up to the leaders to make up.

Pairin, Dompok and PBRS president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup all have strong following. If they join hands, it would be great for Kadazandusun and Murut unity. It is difficult to be pushed around when we are united.

It is saddening to read in the newspapers when some Kadazandusun and Murut leaders dare to attack their leaders of different parties but would not dare to say a word against others who hold a stronger position. To progress, this mud-slinging in their own home must stop and uniting is the best way for it.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dompok Defends Malay Language Bible

At the recently held 15th UPKO Congress, its President, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok called on the government to return to the status quo of allowing Malay language Bibles to be circulated among Christians in the country.

Recently, it was reported that 15,OOO Bibles have been seized by the Federal government. This coupled with the fact that some states including Sabah have issued decrees banning the usage of certain words among Christians have created concern among Malaysian Christians, especially those in Sabah and Sarawak where Malay is the primary language of the Christian church.

It is hoped that Dompok's call would be heeded by the government. But then again, the fact that certain leaders in the government such as Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are against Christians using Malay in their worship is worrying. Ahmad Zahid had once criticised Dompok in a West Malaysian daily for defending the use of Malay-language Bibles.

The opposition too is not short of such leaders. Bandar Baru Kulim Member of Parliament (MP) Zulkifli Nordin is also known for his opposition to Malay-language Bibles. These people should know that Malay language Bibles were used in Sabah long before the late Tunku Abdul Rahman proposed the formation of Malaysia.

Are these leaders then against the spirit of Malaysia? The real hurdle now is for people like Dompok to directly engage such narrow-minded leaders.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Single Stream School Good For All

It is interesting to note that former Prime Minister Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad is in favour of a single stream schooling system for Malaysia. Currently, there are three types of schools at the primary level and two types at the secondary level.

At the primary level, there are national schools where the main medium of instruction is Malay, the Chinese-type national schools where Chinese is the main medium and the Tamil-type where Tamil is the main medium.

At the secondary school level, there is the national type school where Malay is the main medium and the religious-type where only Muslim students are allowed to attend and the curricula is mostly based on Islam.

If we are to have a single stream education, then it is not only Chinese and Tamil schools that should go. Islamic religious schools such as the Sekolah Menengah Agama Kebangsaan (SMAK) too should go! Why only blame Chinese and Tamil schools for the lack of integration. At least in Chinese schools, you have students of various races and religious backgrounds. But in religious schools, you only have Muslim students.

And as a concession for doing away with these schools, Chinese Language, Tamil Language and Islamic religious subjects such as Islamic Education, Tassawur, Arabic Language, Syariah and others should be taught within school hours.

And in regards to Sabah please do not forget the Kadazandusun and Murut languages.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Borneo National Party

With reference to the article "Parti Rakyat Borneo Anyone?" which appeared on The North Borneo Herald would like to add that in 2006 a group of people met in a restaurant in Jalan Pantai, Kota Kinabalu to discuss the formation of the Borneo National Party.

The most senior leader in the group was Mathurin Daim, a former United National Kadazan Organization (UNKO) strongman from Papar. Mathurin Daim also served under various governments.

Among the things discussed were the alternating of the president's post between a Sabahan and Sarawakian every five years, the restoration of the original constitution of 1963, the need to place indigenous unity above personal concerns and a need to find a strong and consistent source of funding.

Unfortunately plans for the proposed party came to a halt when Parti Keadilan Rakyat made the Tambunan Declaration and the health of Daim worsened.

The draft constitution of the party is still available in the hands of Daim's trusted aide (in hard copy only) complete with party flag and all. Unfortunately very few of people still remain committed to the proposed party while one of them is still a member of a Barisan Nasional component party.

Friday, October 23, 2009

15,000 Bible Copies Seized!

The Herald Malaysia Online reports that the Government of Malaysia through the Ministry of Home Affairs have seized a total of 15,000 copies of the Malay-language Bible, known as Alkitab.

This is a very saddening development and is a big blow to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's 1Malaysia slogan. Slogans will remain slogans if they are not fulfilled. The Malay language Bible is in great demand especially in Sabah and Sarawak where there is a great number of Malay-speaking Christians.

Also it must not be forgotten that the level of English proficiency among non-Malays in Malaya too have dropped since many of them have been attending Malay-medium national schools. Therefore the Malay-language Bible is not only in demand in Sabah and Sarawak but in Malaya too. The growing number of Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians working and studying in Malaya too have increased the demand for the Alkitab there.

We would like to see what Christian leaders in Sabah namely Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok have to say about this. It seems that many Christians leaders nowadays fear their political masters more than they fear God!

Read more at:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finally, A Recognition for Malaysia Day!

The declaration by our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that beginning next year, September 16th would be declared a national holiday to commemorate the formation of Malaysia should be hailed.

Najib is the first Prime Minister to declare Malaysia Day as a holiday. Najib is perhaps a Prime Minister for all Malaysians after all. He is going to make it harder for the opposition to gain ground in Sabah and Sarawak. With the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) facing internal disputes in Sabah and Sarawak, Najib's Barisan Nasional (BN) stands to win with a bigger majority in Borneo in the next elections.

It is also hoped that Najib would also increase the representation of non-Muslim indigenes from Borneo in the Federal government. And the next step for Najib is to amend Article 160 of the Federal Constitution to include the definition of Malaysia Day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Changing Face of UMNO

The recent speeches by our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Khairy Jamaluddin are very enlightening. Najib's call for UMNO to be a party for all Malaysians is very palatable. Khairy's call for UMNO to be more inclusive is also very heartening.

There is a possiblity that UMNO would one day open up to Malaysians of all races. In fact even now UMNO is open to not only Malays, but the Dayaks, Kadazandusuns, Muruts, the Orang Asli, Portuguese Malays and Thais.

UMNO's founding father, Dato' Onn Ja'afar had wanted the party to include all races. In fact he left the party because his idea was rejected. Maybe Najib can be the Prime Minister who would turn UMNO into a multi-racial party. He had after all coined the term 1Malaysia.

But the question is how soon can we see UMNO turn into one? And for Sabahans, the most important thing is to see UMNO being bold enough to revoke the citizenships of Project IC holders and their children.

UMNO is not short of far-sighted leaders. Apart from Najib, there are Khairy Jamaluddin and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. It is not impossible for these individuals to drastically change the face of UMNO. For Sabahans, they simply have to wait and see.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sabah a Muslim Majority State?

At the time of independence in 1963 the Muslim population of Sabah was at 37%. Recent official statistics by the government of Malaysia puts Sabah's Muslim population at 63.7% .

In the early 1970s during the outbreak of the Moro rebellion in the southern Phillippines, thousands of Muslim refugees came to Sabah and settled in refugee camps. Many of them later acquired Malaysian citizenships illegally. In the early 1980s, when Datuk Harris Salleh was the Chief Minister of Sabah, tens of thousands Indonesians and Filipinos (most of them Muslims) acquired Malaysian citizenship illegally as detailed in the books by Joshua Kong (EPIC of Sabah) and M.D Mutalib (IC Palsu & Lelaki Malaysia Terakhir).

Apart from this we must also not forget the large number of West Malaysian civil servants who work and live in Sabah, most of whom are Muslims. Population surveys usually includes the legalized illegals, the illegals and West Malaysians as well.

No wonder then, the Muslim percentage in Sabah is so high. One would not really care if the number of Muslims increase in Sabah from among real Sabahans. But too have so many illegal citizens and West Malaysians in the state, and then claiming Sabah to be a Muslim-majority state is very unfair.

In fact, it is believed the actual percentage of Muslims in Sabah are around 40-45%. The foreigners who acquired citizenships through illegal means must be stripped of their citizenships and Borneonisation of the civil services must be implemented.

Only then can we see the actual growth of Muslim population in Sabah. To call Sabah a Muslim state while at the same time being proud of people who have no business being in Sabah is not something to be proud of.

What if the Indonesian Muslims bring along their extremist outfits like Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Laskar Jihad here? What if the Filipinos bring along their Abu Sayyaf here? When these groups start fighting against the government of Malaysia, it would be too late for us to do anything.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Racism in China and India

Many of us speak proudly of Asian values or Eastern values. There are also those who believe Western idealism would corrupt these values. But let us look at two events that happened in two of Asia's biggest countries, China and India.

Recently there was a report on Channel News Asia (Sept 29) that a contestant in the Chinese Idol singing competition was criticized by many because of her dark skin. It happened that this girl, Lou Jing a 20-year old native of Shanghai has an Afro father whom she has never met.
Lou Jing is as Chinese as she can be, the only difference being her dark skin.The level of racism is unbelievable. One critic wrote the following on Lou Jing:
"I can't believe she's so shameless that she would go on TV" Another critic said "that this black woman cannot be regarded as a "real" Chinese".

On June 23rd 2008, Express India reported that a Naga girl was barred from entering a lounge bar because the proprietor claimed she was not "Indian enough". The Naga people are native to Northeastern India and they share the physical features of Southeast Asians. This girl, a photographer was to meet her friends on work matters but was humiliated in front of many others because of the way she looks. Enatoli Sema, a Naga lawyer claimed that this was not the first time a Naga was barred from an establishment because of race.

While the West has moved away from racism (though it still exists), these two Asian giants, China and India are still steeped in racism. They are afraid of those who do not look like them and are very prejudiced.

These countries should learn a thing or two from Sabah. Here in Sabah, differences are not emphasised. Even among the Kadazandusuns, there are those who are dark skinned. And it is learnt that even among the Indians here, there are those who are not Indian looking at all.
People in Sabah are more willing to accept those from other races as well.

Values need not be Eastern nor Western. There is one universal value that should be embraced by all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Patent for Sabahan Food?

The Federal Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen had suggested that Malaysia should patent some of its popular dishes.

This is rather complex, bearing in mind that some of our dishes are shared by those in neighbouring countries. For example, Nasi Lemak (popular breakfast rice) has its origins in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The popular Indonesian breakfast, Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) is also popular in Sabah's east coast.

This is not to mention many of the dishes found in Singapore, which is very similar to those found in Malaysia, especially Malaya.

If the minister has her way, then Sabah should move quickly to have its dishes patented as well through the Sabah Ministry of Tourism. We have some popular dishes too such as Mee Tuaran, Mee Goreng Basah, Hinava, Bosou, Tuhau, Lomiding, Nonsom, Tinamba, Sabah Kono Mein, Manuk Lihing, Sup Lihing, Karabau Kawah Papar, Panjaram, Kolopis, Lambam, Kuih Cincin, Putu, Ambuyat and a lot more!

Also do not forget our popular alcoholic beverages such as Lihing (rice wine), Montoku/Talak (distilled rice wine) and Bahar (coconut wine).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Does Malaysia Exist Legally?

As Malaysia celebrates its 46th anniversary on September 16th 2009, one wonders whether there is any true meaning in the formation of Malaysia. According to the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 in Part II Section 4 (1) "The Federation shall be known, in Malay and English, by the name Malaysia".

In Section 2 of the same part in the agreement, Malaysia is defined as below:

The States of the Federation shall be-

a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu; and

b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and

c) the State of Singapore.

From the above it can be concluded that Malaya is only a component within the Federation of Malaysia. Why then is Malaya's independence celebrated as the National Day for Malaysia?

And secondly, why does the Federal Constitution not define Malaysia Day? This is despite it being mentioned several times in the constitution, for example in Article 19 (4).

If we look at Article 160, the Federation is defined as the one established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957! Does this mean, the legality of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia can be questioned?

Sabah and Sarawak was not part of the Federation of Malaya Agreement in 1957. Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya merged to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. But this gets no mention in the Federal constitution.

What have our Sabahan and Sarawakian lawmakers been doing in parliament the past 46 years? Sabah and Sarawak should stop being treated like mere colonies in the Federation. First, we must ensure the word Federation is defined in the Federal Constitution as the Federation that was formed under the Malaysia Agreement of 1963. Secondly, we must make sure that Malaysia Day is defined as the 16th of September 1963. And lastly, we must request that the 16th of September be declared National Day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sabahan Indigenes Could Have Become Slaves Too

As Malaya celebrates its 52nd anniversary of independence, the North Borneo Herald would like to mention an unsung hero of modern Malaya (or Peninsular Malaysia as it is popularly known today).

The person was none other than James Wheeler Woodford Birch, better known as J.W.W Birch. He was the first British Resident of the state of Perak, appointed on the 4th of November 1874. Many of those whose only acquaintance with Malaysian history are from school textbooks might wonder how could Birch be considered a hero!

After all, Malaysian textbooks teaches us that Birch was a representative of the British colonialists, and that he did not respect local customs. So, he was killed. That's what the school books teaches us.

But many are unaware that Birch was against slavery. During that period, the Malays of Perak were practising slavery. The Orang Asli (indigenes of Malaya) would be captured and sold as slaves. The pretty ones would end up as harem for the rich and powerful.

Birch was strongly against this. Please bear in mind that Britain had enacted the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

Birch was against the slave trade that was rife in Perak. He stopped it. Datuk Maharaja Lela, a powerful local who was involved in the slave trade was very unhappy and killed Birch. The Datuk claimed that Birch was killed because the latter did not respect local customs! What a way to get people to respect local customs!

Birch should be hailed as a hero who ended slavery in Malaya. If it was not for him, we would never know when slavery would have ended in Malaya. As for the indigenous peoples of Sabah, don't forget that if it were not for the British North Borneo Chartered Company coming to Sabah, they too could have endured what the Orang Asli endured in Perak before Birch came!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kalabakan MP's Revelation Shocking!

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Kalabakan Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh said he has received complaints that illegal immigrants are being issued Identification Cards (IC) in his constituency.

It is saddening that despite being firmly entrenched in power in the state, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) still needs illegal immigrants to help it stay in power. Please bear in mind that UMNO is in charge of both the federal and state governments. Therefore the National Registration Department's (NRD) alleged issuance of citizenship cards to illegals must have something to do with UMNO. This is if the complaints received by the Kalabakan MP is true.

As the North Borneo Herald had said earlier, the NRD needs a total overhaul. And perhaps it is time that the Home Ministry which is in charge of the NRD be helmed by a non-UMNO MP. And the NRD too should have a non-Muslim Sabahan or Sarawakian as director. Only this can satisfy Malaysians that the NRD is being transparent. Or else NRD would be just viewed as a tool for UMNO to increase its votes illegally.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some Basic Sabahan History

It is rather unfortunate that many youths today do not know the true history of Malaysia's independence. In school they are taught that Malaysia won independence on August 31st 1957. And the North Borneo Herald has spoken to some Sabahan history teachers and find that their knowledge on the history of Sabah and Malaysia are quite shallow too.

The North Borneo Herald therefore would like to share some basic knowledge on Sabah's history to those who wish to expand their knowledge:

Original name: State of North Borneo (founded in 1881)

9th July 1963: Name changed to Sabah

31st August 1963: Sabah becomes independent

16th September 1963: Sabah together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore merge to form a new country called the Federation of Malaysia

Kudat: Capital of Sabah 1881-1883

Sandakan: Capital of Sabah 1883-1946

The Twenty Points: Conditions set out by Sabah for the formation of Malaysia (available on Wikipedia)

Malaysia Agreement 1963: The document that became the basis for the formation of Malaysia (available from the Government Printing Office in Jalan Tuaran, KK)

30th September 1968: The name of Sabah's capital Jesselton changed to Kota Kinabalu

Henri Boniface Hermann: Man who composed Sabah state anthem

Datuk Donald Stephens: The first Chief Minister of Sabah

Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun: The first Yang Di-Pertua Negara of Sabah (not yang dipertua negeri)

1967: Sabah held its first state elections

The North Borneo Armed Constabulary: The name of the Sabah State Police before Malaysia was formed

North Borneo Herald: First newspaper in Sabah since 1883

North Borneo News: Newspaper under the British government 1946-1949

Sabah Times: The first newspaper published by a local Donald Stephens in 1949

Flags of Sabah 1881-present: (see below)

Flag of North Borneo 1881-1946


Flag of Sabah 1963-1976
Sabah Flag 1963-1981

Flag of Sabah 1976-1988
Sabah Flag 1981-1988

Flag of Sabah 1988-present
Sabah Flag 1988 to date

Friday, August 28, 2009

Indian National's Claim Prove NRD's Project

The protest of an Indian national against his arrest has proven that the National Registration Department has been involved in the illegal issuance of ICs (citizenship cards) to foreigners.

The Daily Express (26th August 2009) had reported that Mohamed Kani Majid, 43 an Indian national was arrested for being an illegal immigrant. Majid however protested, saying his arrest was illegal as he was issued an IC by the NRD along with about 100 Indians and Pakistanis in 1994. He claimed the project under which he and other South Asians obtained ICs was called IC Projek Pedalaman (Interior IC Project).

This is the third time the illegal issuance of ICs to foreigners have been admitted by the foreigners themselves. The first one was by Salman Majid, a Pakistani who had his dubious citizenship revoked after a business deal gone wrong with a local. The second was when two Filipinos in 2008 asked Sabahans to forget and forgive while flashing their illegally obtained ICs on the front page of the Daily Express. Majid's case is the third!

It is also a wonder that Majid obtained his IC through an interior IC project, when there are many indigenous folks from the interior who have yet to get their ICs.

The government better revoke the citizenship of all these dubious citizens. Or else more embarassing revelations will come to light. The NRD too needs a total overhaul.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fatwa Has No Legal Bearing On Non-Muslims

Some non-Muslim groups in Sabah are concerned that the Sabah Islamic Religious Council (MUIS) has issued fatwas* which affect them. There is one fatwa which say that words like "Allah", "Nabi" and "Bait Allah" cannot be used by Christians. Then there is another fatwa which says that non-Muslims cannot put up statues in public places.

However what the concerned non-Muslim groups forgot was that a fatwa is only applicable to Muslims. Therefore the fatwa has no legal bearing on non-Muslims. Non-Muslims can continue using the word Allah as they please or build statues of their deities in public places. After all, freedom of religion is one of the most important conditions that facilitated the formation of Malaysia.

*religious edict

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banning Beer Sale?

An interesting development took place in the West Malaysian state of Selangor, where the state executive councillor (EXCO) Dato'Dr.Hassan Ali called for the resignation of another state EXCO, Ronnie Liu, as the latter had allegedly interfered in a raid on a 24-hour convenience store selling beer. It seemed that a local council had confiscated the beers and Ronnie had ordered them to return it to the store.

Dr.Hassan is calling for the ban on selling alcohol in Muslim majority areas. The North Borneo Herald agrees and disagrees with him. First, we agree that alcohol should not be sold to Muslims, and secondly we disagree with the term "Muslim-majority areas".

Though according to Islam it is an offence for Muslims to consume alcohol, the practise of drinking seems to be common among Muslims. This blog does not know the extent of beer-drinking among Muslims in West Malaysia, but there are Muslims drinking beer in Sabah.

Shopowners who sell beer should refrain from selling beer to Muslims. However in Sabah, it is sometimes difficult to tell a Muslim from a non-Muslim. With the ever increasing number of Sabahans, Sarawakians, Filipinos and Indonesians working and studying in West Malaysia, one wonders if retailers there can tell the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The best way would be to label the section where beer is kept as a Non-Halal Section as is the practice in some hypermarkets. Secondly, the cashier should ask the customer if he or she is a Muslim or non-Muslim when the person is purchasing beer. When the cashier is unsure, he or she can request for identification, since Muslims would have the word "Islam" printed on their MyKads.

This is much better than banning the sale of alcohol in so-called "Muslim-majority areas". Let's say if a convenience store in Muslim-majority Putatan does not sell beer. A Muslim could easily drive to Christian-majority Penampang and buy beer, which is just ten minutes away! Similarly if shops in Papar town do not sell beer, Muslims can take an eight minute drive to Christian-majority Limbahau and buy beer. And the same with Muslim-majority Membakut and Christian-majority Ulu Membakut, or Kudat and Matunggong, or Kota Belud-town and
Narinang! The list goes on and on.

And the if ever there is to be a ban, Muslims should also not be allowed to buy yeast, tajau (jars used to make rice wine) or any other materials which might be used to make alcoholic drinks*.

However when one sees the majority alcohol-consuming Muslim youths drinking cheap liquor, would it not be better for them to drink beer, which has less alcohol percentage and more expensive? The conclusion, is just refuse selling beer to Muslim patrons.

*the North Borneo Herald is concerned with the increasing consumption of home-made alcoholic brew ever since beer prices were increased by former premier Datuk Seri Abdullah A.Badawi

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Religion is Free in Sabah

Recently our Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn was quoted as saying that it is against the Federal Constitution to propagate non-Islamic religions to those professing the religion of Islam. He was referring to the case of 9 students at Putra University of Malaysia in Serdang, Selangor who were arrested for allegedly propagating Christianity to Muslim students (15th July 2009). In the end, it turned out that there was a misunderstanding and the nine were released.

Going back to what Hishamuddin had said, let us go back to Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution. It says that state governments may enact laws to prevent the propagation of religions other than Islam to Muslims. Therefore it is only against the law when a state has such a law enacted. However some states have yet to enact such a law. Since Hishamuddin is a Federal minister, he should know that the Federal Territory itself has never enacted such a law.

However Article 11(4) cannot be applied in the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Therefore the governments of Sabah and Sarawak cannot enact a law to prevent the propagation of religions other than Islam to Muslims. This is because it is clearly stated in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 that Article 11(4) cannot be applied in the two states.

Hence, non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak are free to propagate their religions to Muslims. But, out of respect for Muslim sensitivities, there has never been attempts by non-Muslim religious organizations to spread their religions to Muslims or Muslim communities.

But since the Malaysia Agreement has expressly stated that Article 11(4) does not apply to Sabah and Sarawak, Muslims in these two states should be given the free choice to leave Islam if they want to. This should not be made an issue.

Conversions from Islam to Christianity and Christianity to Islam are common in Sabah. Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman himself had said on numerous occassions that Sabahans enjoy the spirit of "live and let live".

Therefore attempts by certain NGOs to have Article 11(4) applied to Sabah are uncalled for. Similarly, the practice of the National Registration Department (NRD) in making life difficult for those converting from Islam to other faiths is a mockery of the Malaysia Agreement of 1963.

To all Sabahans, please know your rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement! The Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1995 which makes converting out of Islam an offence can be challenged in court by citing the Malaysia Agreement.

Monday, June 29, 2009

No Point in Having Religion On MyKad

The recent case of an art director in Peninsular Malaysia shows that the National Registration Act's rule to have religion on the MyKad (national registration card) is of no use. In the case of the late Mohan Singh, whose body is still kept at a hospital mortuary pending the outcome of a court decision to see whether he would be buried as a Muslim or cremated as a Sikh.

The Islamic religious authorities claim that he had converted to Islam before he died and had therefore to be buried as a Muslim. His family on the other hand claims that he was a practising Sikh all his life. If the Islamic religious authorities get their way, the estate that Mohan left behind would not go to his family, but would be claimed by the Islamic authorities.

What is peculiar about the case is that on Mohan's MyKad, the word "Islam" is absent. "Islam" is printed on the MyKads of all Malaysian Muslims. The NRD database also shows his religion as being Sikhism. Now, if the MyKad shows that he is not a Muslim, why is there a necessity to claim that he is?

This shows that there is something clearly wrong with the National Registration Act and the National Registration Department.

Perhaps, it is time to have a law that would allow dead people to be given a funeral according to the rites of the religion of their immediate family members. Or perhaps, when applying for a MyKad, Malaysians should fill a form to say how they wish to be buried if they die.

Whatever it is, one thing for sure is that NRD is really confusing us. On one hand, if a person is a non-Muslim but has the word "Islam" wrongly printed on his MyKad, he cannot change it and has to go through the lengthy process of dealing with religious authorities.

On the other hand, if a person is a non-Muslim and has his religion correctly recorded as such, it can still be questioned!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Traitors to Sabah!

Lahad Datu, Saturday(4th April)- Twelve people were held for burning the Sabah state flag. Their leader claims to be the Sultan of Sulu. There was riot police in town until the afternoon, stationed in front of the Standard Chartered Bank. The road from the roundabout near the Magistrate's Court right up to the bank was sealed off. And motorists who wanted to enter town had to use the coastal freeway or through Pancuran, which was in terrible shape and looked like a waterfall due to the heavy rain.

What is surprising (or unsuprising) is that these flag-burners all had Malaysian citizenship cards (MyKad). Once again we see that the National Registration Department (NRD) had erred in giving citizenship to these foreigners. As long as these foreigners are allowed to keep their MyKads issued during the Mahathir-regime, our state would be in danger. Let us all call on the present government to revoke all citizenships issued to Filipino and Indonesian illegals between the 1970s-1999!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Those Born to Native Mothers are Natives

There seems to be a policy in the National Registration Department (NRD) to register children who are half natives as non-natives. For example if the father is a Chinese, Indian or Filipino and the mother is Kadazandusun, the child would be recorded as being a Chinese, Indian or Filipino.

This is despite the fact that the Chinese, Indian or Filipino father might have embraced the language and culture of their wives and their children live in a native environment.

Would the NRD record children born to Malay mothers and Chinese fathers as Chinese? Or the children born to Malay mothers and Indian fathers as Indians? If no, then this is clearly double standards on the NRD's part.

The NRD's practise is contrary to Article 161 (6) (b) of the Federal Constitution which defines the Natives as :

"in relation to Sabah, a person who is a citizen, is the child or grandchild of a person of a race indigenous to Sabah, and was born (whether on or after Malaysia Day or not) either in Sabah or to a father domiciled in Sabah at the time of the birth."

This clearly shows that children who are born to Kadazandusun or Murut mothers but have Chinese, Indian or Filipino fathers are natives of Sabah. But by registering the race of these children as Chinese, Filipinos or Indians, they are automatically rendered non-natives.

This is a growing epidemic in Sabah and many Sabahans of Sino-Kadazan, Sino-Murut, Filipino-Kadazan, Filipino-Murut, Indo-Kadazan and Indo-Murut race cannot inherit Native Title (NT) lands that belong or belonged to their mothers.

Is the NRD treating these people this way because they are not Muslims? The time has come for someone to take this issue to court and challenge the NRD as doing something illegal. Illegal because it clearly violates the Federal Constitution!

What is even more disheartening is that these children cannot enjoy the perks meant for natives while those who are clearly non-natives can, even to the extent of getting scholarships to study in universities because they are Muslims.