September 6, 2011

It all started with a can of Stewed Pork..

Puzzled with my choice of a title for my post? What I meant is the subject I'm going to blog about was inspired by what transpired when I went to the local hypermart to buy a can of stewed pork hehehe.

So there I was, looking for a cashier that I could go to pay for my stuff. Alamak! All wearing tudung (headscarf) ler... Then my eyes scanned for a non-Muslim cashier, ah!... I saw an Indian girl cashier sticking out like a sore thumb because she was rather on the plus size. What the hell?! How come everyone's making a beeline to her counter!? Her queue was long!!! "No choice", I thought. Then I spied a Muslim cashier who was serving the last customer at her counter. So I went to her counter hesitantly and put my stuff on the counter. Without even batting an eyelid, she promptly picked up the can of stewed pork, scanned it and put it in the plastic bag. I gave her my RM50/- note and looked at her face to see any expression of disgust, zilch! Rather amused by her non-chalantness, I engaged her in small talk,

"You know, my brother in-law was in a big supermarket in KL (Kuala Lumpur) and he bought a can of pork luncheon meat. The cashier absolutely refused to handle the can of luncheon meat and told my brother in-law to scan the item himself", I said.

When she heard this, she chuckled! She gave me my change and thanked me in the most cheerful manner. I think she was happy that I noticed and appreciated her, for lack of better choice of word, I'd say her gesture. 

I'm not an expert in Islam, I think some might argue that the can was "contaminated" (I'm one of them :P. When it comes to halal matter with my Muslim friends, I'm extremely careful about it. Respect mah and this respect is not demanded by my Sabahan Muslim friends, they never did but rather, I accord it to them) and she shouldn't touch it but the whole episode just demonstrates the attitude of Muslims in Sabah or to be precise, Sabahan Muslims. They are tolerant to a fault! 

About a week ago, or more, someone from the Kampung where my farm is, passed away. My mom went to the funeral mass at the Kampung's small church, I think it is more a chapel than it is a church but they call it a church. Semantic. My mom went before me, by the time I got there, the mass had started. So not wanting to disrupt the service, I didn't enter the church but waited outside but I still could follow the mass from outside. I was not the only one there. There were other people also. Faces not familiar to me, apparently some of them came from KK (Kota Kinabalu, about 100km away from the Kampung).
Guess who was among them. There he was, this old man, in a Haji skull cap! This was the month of Ramadhan by the way. He sat there and respectfully observed the service (of course he didn't participate). The kampung folks where my farm is, consisted of Muslim and Christian Dusuns and some Muslim Bisayas. It is a close and tightly knit community but I must say, I didn't expect to see how tight they were this way. The Dusun muslims referred themselves as Dusuns here and not Malays and they speak the Dusun language. They didn't abandon their Dusun culture.

After the mass ended, I was busy chaperoning my mom so I fogot about the Haji and I didn't see him later also. After the mass, they brought the coffin to the kampung's Christian burial ground. Sacred ground for the Christians and to be specific again, Catholics. My mom wanted to participate against my advice. I told her it was bloody HOT, she shouldn't be there but I think she wanted to take revenge on me for the years that I had defied her, so go she did.

So there we were at the cemetary, I told my mom to just wait at the small shelter erected for people to escape from the torturous sun. Of course there were others there, old folks like my mom. Amongst them was an old Muslim man and a middle aged lady in Tudung! I didn't know who they were but they were chit chatting away happily with the Christian Dusuns. The old man seemed to be in his late 70s. As with the tradition of the Dusuns, they prepared food for the people who came to pay respect. Among the fares they had was PORK!

I thought to myself, "OMG! This is akward! During fasting month, no less!".

One of the ladies that was in charge of preparing the meals, went to the old man and apologized to him for having to serve meals to the other guests, to which the old man waved his hand, a gesture meant to dismiss her sense of guilt and said, "Makan sajah bah!" or if it were in english, it would have sounded like, "Hosh posh! Go ahead! What's the big deal!". 

I myself, have loads of muslim relatives on my mom's side. Cousins, uncles, aunties, nephews, nieces... Every year our clan would have a gathering where the descendants of my maternal great great grandfather gather to rekindle our kinship.

The following are some of the pictures taken in our annual gathering held at my farm in 2008. These photos only showed some of the relatives. We wore different colour of shirts to identify to which clan we belonged to. There were red, yellow, purple, green, blue... These photos showed mainly the yellow clan.

The woman in red blouse in the centre is my mom and behind her, the man next to the woman wearing the brown Tudung is her nephew Datuk Bishop Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau Diocese, Sabah.
Christian relatives preparing for mass which was presided by Datuk Bishop. Muslim relatives entertained themselves just outside of the living room.
In Sabah, muslim parents send their children to Chinese schools. It's not a big deal to us because it has been going on for years! My cousin's boyfriend is a teacher in a Chinese school in a little town called Bongawan, he said 98% of their students are non-chinese, including Muslims.

The following are scenes from a recent sports day and merdeka celebration at my alma mater (primary school) recently.

SRJK (C) Kung Ming
Sports day. Parents participated.
Other parents looking on as the kids were having fun. See who are amongs the crowd.
That's the building where I attended my kindergarten years
Kids performing on the 48th Independence Day celebration. Those were really muslim kids in baju melayu in the performance.
Chinese, Kadazandusun and Malay but where's the Indians? :D. Oversight maybe but then again, we don't have a big community of Indians in our town. Most left for KK.
On a seperate note, this coming 16 September 2011, we are going to celebrate 48 years of of being Malaysians, being a nation. As I have implored in my earlier posts. Fly the Jalur Gemilang on 16 September 2011! Why should you? Because our forefathers (Sabahan) were among the leaders that founded the nation of Malaysia. By not celebrating this day, we are dishonoring their memories. 

The Malaysia Agreement was signed by the following:
For the United Kingdom: Harold MacMillan, Duncan Sandys and Lansdowne

For the Federation of Malaya : Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak, Tan Siew Sin, V.T Sambanthan, Ong Yohe Lin and S.A Lim

For North Borneo : Datu Mustapha Bin Datu Harun, Donald A. Stephens, W.KH Jones, Khoo Siak Chiew, W.S. Holley and G.S Sundang

For Sarawak : P.E.H Pike, T. Jugah, Abang Haji Mustapha, Ling Beng Siew and Abang Haji Openg

For Singapore : Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee

Secondly, by showing that we remember this day, we are sending a message to whoever that is trying to distort history that we don't buy their whitewash anymore. Ignorant people are easier to manipulate and be misled, by keeping this memory alive, we keep the knowledge for our future generation of Sabahans so that they won't be fooled. 

If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, put the Jalur Gemilang as your profile picture. If people ask you why, explain to them. I made my own profile picture as above. If you are wondering what is the meaning of the symbol, they represent 169 i.e. 16 Sep. A little bit of "play of word" here or rather numbers, 1 meaning one people, 69 come in the form of the yin and yang symbol because we (Sabahans) as a society is the perfect example for harmony, moderation and balance. Feel free to use my design if you want to.   


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