Posts Tagged 'Race Relation'

Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) 2009

Miss Appey Rowenna Januin crowned as the state-level Unduk Ngadau 2009

Miss Appey Rowenna Januin crowned as the state-level Unduk Ngadau 2009

31st May 2009 saw the culmination of a month long kaamatan celebration in Sabah, Malaysia which was officially closed by the TYT Negeri Sabah, Tun Haji Ahmad Shah Abdullah.

Amongst the highlights of the closing day celebration was the crowning of Miss Appey Rowenna Januin of Papar as the state-level Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Festival  Queen) by the the TYT’s consort, Toh Puan Dayang Masuyah Binti Japar.

Folks, just in case, it slips from your memory, the national-level Pesta Kaamatan will be held on the 7th June 2009 at Padang Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Come one! Come all!



5:3:2 Distribution of Sabah Cabinet seats…

What was once the top 4 state cabinet members of Sabah (courtesy of New Sabah Times)

What was once the top 4 state cabinet members of Sabah (courtesy of New Sabah Times)

What does it really mean for the non-muslim bumiputera in Sabah in so far as the long established convention of 5:3:2 distribution of cabinet seats between the Muslim bumiputera, non-muslim bumiputera and the chinese is concerned? Does it really matter?

Folks, it does not really matter if one had to listen to from none other than the PBS President cum the 1st Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Development, Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan who happens to be the Huguan Siou of the KadazanDusun in Sabah the majority of whom are non-muslim bumiputera. He was on record to say and I repeat it in verbatim ” the non-Muslim bumiputera quota in the State Cabinet can be changed at the discretion of the Chief Minister.

He said the matter had always been debatable but at the same time urged the people not to make it into a big issue. He said as much as he would like to have a more stable quota, the decision to have as many or as few non-Muslim bumiputeras in the State Cabinet remains at the discretion of the Chief Minister.

“Five, four, three or whatever the formula, has always been a debatable issue. I do not think we ought to be too stuck or too stiff about this kind of thing.

“We would like to have a stable quota but at the same time we must understand that this is the prerogative of the Chief Minister. It is up to him (Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman) to make the necessary adjustment or make the necessary appointments…”

“He, or anybody who is the Chief Minister, will always have to take into account the aspirations or the expectations of all component political parties. Whatever decision he made is his prerogative. I am confident it was done in the best interest of the BN Government and to ensure all government programmes would run smoothly.”

I beg to differ though. Personally, I am not quite convinced that the majority of non-muslim bumiputera in Sabah are receptive to the idea that as long as the present BN government could fulfill its obligations and covenants to uplift the socio-economic status of the non-muslim bumiputera, the question of missed opportunity on effecting a fair distribution of cabinet seats in Sabah as highlighted by the PBRS Information Chief, Rayner Francis Udong recently could no longer be relevant.

For the record, the said 5:3:2 ratio was a formula practiced by convention when the BN took over the state government in 1994 whereby 5 is meant for 5 ministerial posts allocated to the muslim bumiputera, 3 posts to the non-muslim bumiputera while the last 2 posts are for the Chinese representatives in the State Legislative Assembly.

However, as I see it, at present, the Sabah cabinet seat distribution is made along the lines of BN component parties’ strength in the State Legislative Assembly. After the last state general election in 2008, UMNO won 32 seats, PBS won 12 seats, SAPP won 4 seats, LDP won 3 states, UPKO won 6 seats, MCA and PBRS won 1 seat each. Hence, Prior to the departure of SAPP from BN, the state cabinet was composed of 6 for UMNO, 2 for PBS, 1 each for UPKO, SAPP and LDP respectively.

The seat quota remains unchanged even after Datuk Raymond Tan, the sole SAPP representative in the cabinet chose to stick with BN when SAPP left BN last year where he was retained as a cabinet member while being a pro-BN Independent for almost 9 months.

Folks, now that Datuk Raymond Tan has joined Gerakan, a Peninsular Malaysia based multiracial party, the status quo remains unchanged. In fact, he was rewarded for his unquestionable loyalty to BN by being retained as a cabinet member minus his Deputy Chief Ministership though. However, the gist of the matter is that, the current composition of the state cabinet is all about one’s political strength in the state BN rather than racial and / or religiously based.

To me, the current arrangement is rather flawed despite BN undeniable success in bringing progress in terms of socio and infra-structural development to the state. I am saying this on the fact that a particular community could be under represented in the powerful decision making body despite it being the majority group in the state.

Analytically, it is a very simple arithmetic, take for example, PBS, the multiracial but KadazanDusun Murut based party. Logically, being a strongly KDM based party, there should be more than one KDM ministers representing the party apart from a chinese minister in the person of Datuk Yee Moh Chai to reflect its ideal political equilibrium in the state cabinet so that when seen in totality, there should be a sense of equitable fairness among the major races in the state.

Be as it may, what more could they ask for if such prerogative power is used to hypothetically appoint cabinet members along such lines as 6 for UMNO (Muslim Bumiputera), 2 for PBS (Non-Muslim Bumiputera), 1 for UPKO (Non-Muslim Bumiputera), 1 each for PBS (Chinese) and LDP (Chinese), Hence, the ratio should be 6:3:2 so that it is to be more or less reflective of the previously accepted convention.

As for Gerakan (a chinese-based multiracial party), it would be, in fairness to PBRS and MCA, politically prudent to appoint its 2 representatives as Assistant Ministers in the state cabinet.

However, it is of course, very important to remember that it is the CM’s sole prerogative to appoint his cabinet members whom he thinks are capable of helping him in the administratioin of the state and lest we forget that if the present cabinet is workable and is the best one we have ever had to assist the YAB Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman to achieving his well-documented Halatuju for the state, we should support him and his BN administration wholeheartedly regardless of our previous reservation.


Unity in Diversity

A picture of some medical students with the Malaysian Ambassador to Russia at Kursk State Medical University, Russia

A picture of some medical students with the Malaysian Ambassador to Russia at Kursk State Medical University, Russia

Dressed to kill ? These young and lovely would be doctors are proud to be Malaysians in a foreign country

Dressed to kill ? These young and lovely would be doctors are proud to be Malaysians in a foreign country

Malaysian students performing the Magunatip on Deeparaya Nite at Kursk State Medical University, Russia

Malaysian students performing the Magunatip on Deeparaya Nite at Kursk State Medical University, Russia

Their happy faces after the performance reflecting Unity in Diversity

Their happy faces after the performance reflecting Unity in Diversity

On the local front, it saddens me to hear some disturbing news that local university students in Malaysia are having so much problem with racial intolerance in their respective universities. If I am not mistaken the issues of racial intolerance or that of matters having racial undertones were said to have reared its ugly head again in the UPM campus at Serdang, Selangor where a group of malay undergraduates who were said to have allegedly intimidated and harassed a chinese undergraduate group for having set up a HELP counter for new students without, as alleged, permission from the University Authority.

To me, if indeed the allegation were true, it was a very unfortunate incident in the 50 year history of our nation where we, as Malaysians in a multi-racial country, are supposed to live in harmony, perfectly comfortable in our belief that our rights as citizens of this beautiful country are safely guarded and guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. To all intents and purposes, apart from having to observe the sanctity of the 5 pillars of RUKUN NEGARA, we are supposed to uphold the most sacred theme of ” UNITY IN DIVERSITY” in Malaysia.

I remember when I was studying Marine Biology and Law in the United Kingdom, courtesy of the state Government of Sabah and the British High Commissioner’s Chevening Award in the middle of the 80s, all Malaysian students in our universities, irrespective of race and creed, post and undergraduates would make it a point to celebrate anually a Malaysian Student Night where all of us would proudly be on our best formal or traditional dresses. All of us, I believe, were proud to call ourselves Malaysian and indeed, to show to the whole world then that although Malaysia was a multi-racial and multicultural country, we live in harmony subscribing every moment of our way of life – UNITY IN DIVERSITY !

I truly believe that such a patriotic and caring attitude towards our country and our fellow citizens overseas is still very much alive and embedded in our citizens living or studying abroad. Folks, a collection of photographs posted above tells it all. But the question that still lingers on my mind is: Why is this only happening in a foreign country?

Why can’t it be happening right in our own backyards?

Could we blame the BN Government for this unfortunate incident? i.e. the occurence of racial intolerance in our own country. I don’t particularly think so. In fact, the Government had gone through great length to introduce Race Relation as a subject in the local universities so much so that as recent as 2 years ago, its contents were further amended to improve its eficacy as a taught subject at tertiary level.

Whatever it is, before I end this post, let me quote in verbatim what the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Malaysia Chairman, Dr. Yoo Chong Young had to say in his opening speech at the Ambassadors for Peace seminar in Kota Kinabalu yesterday:-

” … Malaysia is a promised land for reconciliation and peace … Malaysia is also special because it is multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious country, Geopolitically, Malaysia has a special symbolic significance… In such a country, we must learn to develop mutual respect, mutual understanding and mutual support in order to make harmony and peace. Only then we can reach mutual prosperity and stability for co-existence….Malaysia would be like a well where one can find a spring of peace…. Only in this way Malaysia can flourish..”

So, folks, what’s gone wrong?


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