December 21, 2012

First Blog Post to Start The New Era

Photo : Wikimedia/Simon Burchell
Hey! What do you know? We're still here! Everyone was holding their breath at the stroke of midnight few hours ago for the impending doom according to some people who prophesied our end based on the Mayan calendar that ran its course few hours ago. Then again, we're ahead of the Americas by a few hours and I assume the Mayans made their calendar based on their time zone and the Mayan kingdom was in South America, so who knows, it might happened in a few hours from now hehehe...

Oh yah, History Chanel aired this documentary called “Countdown to Apocalypse” last evening and it carried these viewer discretion advisory, “This programme contains views from Non-Muslim perspective. Viewers discretion advised”.....................................*pin drop*............................................................... What? You're expecting me to say more about this? LOL. Oh ok! Just to clarify, History Chanel was not the one who put up the advisory, it was Astro.

September 30, 2012

Malaysia's Very Own Oktoberfest

Hallooooo.... Long time no see! It's been a while since I last blogged, hasn't it? Been wanting to start blogging again but I had problem coming up with a topic. Guess I have one of those 'blogger's block'. 

Anyway, drove down to KK on Friday to attend the launching of Borneo Eco Film Festival. Give support lah! After all, someone I know by the name of Dr Agnes Agama had a hand in organizing the event. Agnes is a passionate social and eco activist, I thought it'd be a shame if I didn't show my support. So off I went.I can tell you that the 100 KM drive was worth it! And to my pleasant surprise, the public turn up for what is to be a 3 day event was encouraging.

Some of the crowds at the lobby of the auditorium. That's June Rubis helping herself to some 'makan-makan'

The lady with the sunglasses is Caroline. She introduced her son who was a journalist with NST. Wow!

With Tom inside the auditorium. I said it's time someone took your picture instead of you taking all the pictures all the time hihihi
Opening presentation by LEAP
I didn't manage to take a lot of pictures of the event because the camera I brought with me (borrowed) was not up to the task(I left my Canon Powershot back in Beaufort). I regret this very much. The first film screening was a silent and black and white film shot in 1903 (if I'm not mistaken) called Trip Through North Borneo. Local musicians provided the live music background to the film. Truth to be told, I was more captivated by the music being played live by the three musicians than by the movie LOL. Wonderful musicians. 

Unfortunately, Tom who works for had to cover the Oktoberfest at Shenanigan Fun Pub at Hyatt hotel and I promised that I would drive him to the venue. So off we went. At first, I told Tom that although I would drive him there, I would not be joining him because I have an early meeting with the folks from City Hall the next day and I wanted to have an early rest. I was rather tired because I haven't really rested since arriving in KK. However, when we reached Segama, I changed my mind. Seeing that there was not much crowd at the entrance to the pub yet (I hate crowded area these days), I thought why not hang out with Tom a bit.

Hanging out
I helped Tom take some pictures of the event for him but I'm not sure he would use them anyway LOL. Oktoberfest I was told, is an annual event held throughout Malaysia. This is the second year it is done in Kota Kinabalu. The company (Carlsberg Malaysia) that promoted the event dubbed it Malaysia's Own Oktoberfest.

The band, straight from Germany, doing sound checks. Yes, we were that early

Oktoberfest girls entertaining customers with a game of chess

Tourists enjoying themselves
They are doing the Chicken Dance. Done by men, it looked silly but done by these girls, it looked sexy LOL
Everyone got to do the Chicken Dance!

These sporting gals went on stage and danced with the band
You know I stood next to one of these girls and she was like a head taller than me LOL. A great way to crush your man ego :P
Customers were pulled and made to compete in pairs to see who could do the best Chicken Dance. Some even incorporated the Sumazau in.
One of the competing couples. No silly hats were going to keep them from the prize! By the way, the emcee decided that everyone won. So everyone went away with a prize.
This was a game but I couldn't remember now what game it was.

Winners of 'Towers'.
You can get away with being cheeky any day girl hehehe
Colin with one of the local Oktoberfest girls. They are equally eye candy as their counterparts on stage

This is Fiona. She told me she's a Dusun and from Papar.

This one I didn't get the name. I was there to work bah but she gracefully agreed to take one with me
Me and Fiona. Nice girl.
So that was my Friday night lah. We left around 10pm (I think) after the band finished their set. I drove Tom back to his home in Inanam and then back to my sister's place in Penampang. The Shenanigan Oktoberfest was fun but I was told it was only for a night. I think it is a great product but limiting it to one night only in KK, macam tidak shiok oh but I guess doing it for a month in KK would be a tremendous logistical problem to be solved by the company that promoted the event as to what I'm given to understand, they are doing this nationwide. Yalah kan, sometimes it's not good to have too much of a good thing.

May 15, 2012

Richard Sokial for Sindak Pangazou 2012 (Burning Warrior)

This is my friend, Richard Sokial. I got to know him through my activities in North Borneo History Enthusiasts (NBHE). Granted that our 'friendship' (if he allows me to refer to it as such :P) is less than a year but I think I am a good judge of character. I have nominated him for the 2012 Sindak Pangazou, an award of sort given by Voice OUT Kota Kinabalu which is an annual youth art festival organized jointly by Youth-PREP Centre (YPC), Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) and Sabah Women's Action-Resource Group (SAWO)

This year their theme is 'Breakout'. To quote them about their concept: 
"Voice Out aims to reach out to the young people through art as its medium. The music and art piece which will be contributed by both local talents and local artists will portray the social problems faced by the young people of today. We will also be conducting art events throughout the month of May in different locations and the Voice Out Concert will be the highlight and climax for all the programs."
And quoting them again about Sindak Pangazou:

Finding Huminodun is a search for one female youth who had contributed to the local communities and deserves an appreciation. Alongside the Finding Huminodun, we are also awarding another potential male youth as our Sindak Pangazou (Burning Warrior) The female youth will be awarded as the Voice-Out 2012 Youth Huminodun.Voting on facebook will close on Thursday 17 May 2012. 50% of the marks will be based on the likes in Facebook and another 50% will be decided by the judges during Voice-Out 2012 at Suria Sabah 19th May 2012 .The participants will be presenting a cause (eg. Indegenous Rights, Music, etc.) of their choice.Let's vote!!    
Now, why did I nominate Richard for Sindak Pangazou. First thing you must know is that Richard spent his childhood in New York at a young age! However, when you meet him, you will not hear any American accent from him. He is a down to earth fellow of Dusun Tatana (Kuala Penyu) and Tambunan parentage.

He is an architect by training but chose social activism as his vocation. Sure, he could get a 9 to 5 job and sit in some air-conditioned office and get his fat pay check every month but an inner voice told him that there must be more in life than just money! Perhaps his thinking was partly influenced by his environment while growing up in a foreign country. He saw things perhaps, we didn't see while growing up! Anyway, he was deadset about what he will do with his life and he 'breakout'! He decided that he would go against the flow. The conventional thinking is, you slog in University and when you graduated, you get a high paying job, drive an expensive car and marry a beautiful wife. He could get a beautiful wife by the way, the guy is suave looking :D. But he went the opposite of Sabahan or Malaysian conventional wisdom for the matter! 

He chose instead, to be involved with his community. To pay back to his community no doubt. He chose instead to fight to preserve his community's architectural heritage; Sabah's architectural heritage! He traveled extensively most of Sabah and record whatever he could on the subject. As a result, he has written and in some cases, commissioned to author a book or two on Sabah's architectural heritage!

He founded Heritage Sabah which was recently successfully registered as an NGO with our Registra of Society. Heritage Sabah is of course widely reported in our local papers for their mission to preserve the Atkinson Clock Tower. If anyone deserve the Sindak Pangazou title, I think Richard should be it! This is not only about him but also the people behind Heritage Sabah! This will validate their cause. They didn't do this for the money or glamour. Trust me, there's nothing glamourous about this activism. Plenty of long hours which extended beyond sanctioned working or overtime hours but they still doing it for us!

Therefore, vote for Richard. Click on this link and click LIKE.


Seems like I have erred in some of the facts that I presented. For example, Richard spent his childhood in UK and not New York! :P Now how did I got that two mixed up?? Since I'm very bad at telling his story, I'm just going to let him tell his story himself.

Astaga ging. Okay erm - I was in UK, not NYork. Sino Dusun but Chinese Hokkien from Kuala Penyu (not Tatana) and Dusun Tambunan...took up architectural heritage conservation cos in my final year at University I was shocked to find there were not many resources on Sabah traditional architecture at all! Additionally always got teased by West Malaysians about the lack of architecture we had in Sabah (tinggal atas pokok, etc). I did research on heritage architecture and documented it so that future young Sabahan graduates would not have to go through this kind of humiliating treatment from others, so that they could know their heritage and hold their head up proud. I believed (and still do) that those who have the privilege of obtaining higher education should use it to give back to the local community in some way. There are many forms of leadership, not just politics and i believe that through public awareness and sharing of information, we can empower young people to make the right choices for the future.
Richard has an impressive credentials too. Amongst them, being chose to represent Malaysia at the IVLP 2008 : Cultural Heritage Preservation Program in Washington DC! Read here for his experience at the event. 

P.s/- The profile description about Richard in the Facebook Finding Sindak Pangazou page was written by me. I've also erred about his ethnicity which he already clarified above. My unreserved apology to Richard for the mistakes.

May 1, 2012

BERSIH 3.0 : The Sabah Experience

Sia malas mau reproduce tu blogpost di sini. Jadi kalo ko mau baca tu post, pigi sini :D

April 18, 2012

An Omen? Mom remembers 48 years ago..

It rained heavily this afternoon and the thunder was so scary! Whenever it cracked, the house reverberated! In once instance, I could have sworn the thunder exploded right above our house. I hate thunder... I turn into a wuss whenever there is thunder..

Having nothing better to do and to distract myself from the 'mayhem', I sat down with my mother. Then my mom started reminiscing. She told me to close the front doors. She said, "In the old days, the old folks say you must close the door whenever there is thunder. They say the thunder could come into the house in a ball of lightning. Betul bah tu. Old folks swore that it happened before and the house was burned down. Luckily the occupants escaped in time!"

Cabo What Policy?

A West Malaysian acquaintance of mine called me up this morning. He said, “Justin! I'm still in KL but I called up one of my friends who is in the shipping line and asked him whether he knows anything about the Cabotage Policy and he said he has no idea what it is!” Before I proceed further, allow me to give a shoutout to this West Malaysian acquaintance of mine who will remain nameless in this writing to protect his privacy. This man is in semi-retirement. He has been visiting Sabah frequently for the past 30 years and has decided to make Sandakan his retirement abode. He embedded himself among the Orang Sungai in some remote area in Sandakan and took it upon himself to learn their way of living, to research on their history and culture because he said most of the Orang Sungai he encountered did not know their own history and he wants to help improve their socio-economy! Kudos to you sir!

My acquaintance told me that something must be done about the high cost of living in Sabah and Sarawak. His zeal and conviction for the poor natives of Sabah moved me. So I went plunging in into the subject. I must admit that I do not have an in depth knowledge of this National Cabotage Policy (NCP). It is a dry subject and I am more of a history buff than a business policy kind of guy.

April 1, 2012

Size of States in Malaysia

Someone said something yesterday that had me interested in the subject. It was about the size of our states. This is what I got.

Land area : 48,050 Sq Mile
Population : 2,420,009

Land area : 28,429 Sq Mile
Population : 3,117,405

Land area : 13,953 Sq Mile
Population : 1,443,365

Land area : 8,122 Sq Mile
Population : 2,258,428

Land area : 7,420 Sq Mile
Population : 3,348,283

Land area : 5,830 Sq Mile
Population : 1,459,994

Land area : 5,033 Sq Mile
Population : 1,015,776

Penang (Seberang Prai is not shown here)
Land area : 3,800 Sq Mile
Population : 1,520,143

Land area : 3,700 Sq Mile
Population : 1,890,098

Land area : 3,129 Sq Mile
Population : 5,411,324

Negeri Sembilan
Land area : 2,581 Sq Mile
Population : 997,071

Land area : 642 Sq Mile
Population : 788,706 (2010)

Land area : 317 Sq Mile
Population : 227,025 (2010)

Note : I have checked and rechecked the land areas to the best of my available resources. Admittedly, for example Sarawak, some claim its size is this size and some by that size. However, these differences are noarmally by 100 to 300. So I think it is safe to say we have at least very close proximity of its actual size.

Sarawak, at  48,050 Sq Mile, is the largest state in Malaysia. While Sabah takes second place. You could fit Pahang, Perak, Johor, Kelantan, Terengganu, Penang and Kedah into Sarawak. That is about 64% of the Peninsula Malaysia! Did you know that? I didn't! I never thought of looking at it that way. 

Meanwhile, Sabah at 28,429 Sq Mile, could take in the remainder four Peninsula States, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Perlis and still have extra room of 21,760 Sq Mile to wiggle. Therefore, Sabah and Sarawak combined, are bigger than the Peninsula Malaysia. However, according to TV1's display, the Peninsula Malaysia is bigger than the two Malaysian Borneo states :P 

Note the map at the background?
Now let us look into the districts in Sabah. 

The district of Beaufort is 670 Sq Mile in size with a population of 75,900 (2000). The district is bigger than present day Malacca and also Perlis. Malacca has 788,706 population and Perlis has 227,025!

Kinabatangan is 2,550 Sq Mile big! Population - 86,783 (2000). It is only about 31 Sq Mile smaller than Negeri Sembilan and definitely way way bigger than Malacca and Perlis combined!

Lahad Datu
At 2,562 Sq Mile big, need I say more?

2,351 Sq Mile

So that concludes this post. 

March 30, 2012

What is wrong with this picture?

Woohoo. First it was that East Coast of Malaysia which was Terengganu yesterday and today what do I see?

Have we (Sabah and Sarawak) shrunk in size? Since when Pahang became almost half the size of Sarawak? Sarawak itself is about 80% of Peninsula Malaysia's size! Is this some kind of sinister ploy to send subliminal suggestions? What is the meaning of this?

Here, Pahang is only about a third of Sarawak's size
As though tv1 is saying, "Oh! They look bigger because of the distance. If we put them side by side with Peninsula Malaysia, you would see that they are actually smaller than they look!" 

No, we are actually that big.

This is so maddening.  

March 29, 2012

Bhut Jolokia: Hotest Chili in the World?! Whose world?

Bhut Jolokia
Bhut Jolokia, is a chili pepper that used to enjoy the number one spot in the Scoville scale rating. It was touted to be the hottest chili in the world and this was validated by the Guiness Book of Record. This species of chili is native of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur in India.

As I am a chili farmer, imagine my delight when my British guests brought the seeds to me! I treasured them so much especially more so because from our calculation, each seed actually cost RM2.50/-! I am talking about a small seed, not the pod. Wah! How I nurtured it. I germinated it lovingly in the seedling tray. Gave it the best treatment. It has the best spot in the nursery. Sheltered from the punishing heat of recent weather in Sabah. My local cili padi became second class citizen in my nursery. After all, the Bhut Jolokia is an imported talent bah :P. 

I gave it the best fertilizer and I told my help to pay special attention to the plants. I told her, "Those plants there are expensive ones! Take good care of it. Make sure you do weeding constantly!" And I was rewarded with lush green and healthy plants. I even talked to them, whenever I came to visit, I knelt down on one knee and said, "Vanakam my friend! How are you today? Grow healthy. I will reward you with better food!" They say if you talk to the plants and have positive aura, they could sense it and would be healthy. Who am I to go against conventional wisdom? 

Then the first flower bloomed! Oh! Such beautiful petals! Then the pods started coming. Owh! So cute! The Bhut Jolokias became my mistress. My cili padi? I was too busy to entertain the local mongrels lah! Psst! Sometime I even urinate near them. Dusun tradition bah. Guarantee pedas punya! I would hold my pee before I went to the farm. Once I reached the farm, I would pee next to a plant that I had not urinated near it yet. Someone suggested fertilizing with human crap but I drew a line there! :P. Peeing was the farthest I was willing to go. 

"Ni kali lah!" I thought. "Kalah lah my competitors!" I reveled in my good fortune. 

Then the day of reckoning came. Some of the fruits had ripened. I approached the testing with trepidation! What if I ended up being hospitalized like what happened to the guy in YouTube? I chickened out and I made the excuse that I should instead dry them so that I could propagate more Bhut Jolokia seedlings. However, one night, after drinking half a bottle of 'montoku' I grew some courage to try it. Emboldened by my drunken stupor, I tried a whole pod! I mixed it with an egg and fried them. Then the first bite (hmm.. Where's the heat?), tried the second bite (I say? This is not even 3% as hot as the cili padi I'm growing?) and the third bite and the rest! Nothing eventful came of that exercise. 

The next day, I consoled myself that maybe the alcohol had numbed my taste bud and that perhaps I had harvested them too early. So I decided for the second testing, I should let them ripen all the way on the plants. SOOO! Today, I harvested a fully ripened Bhut Jolokia fruit! Wow! It was brightly red! "Ni kali lah!" I thought. "I must be wrong!" I thought to myself. "Who am I to defy the wisdom of the Guiness Book of Record" I admonished myself. 

Like the first try, I chopped a whole pod. And this pod was bigger and 'handsomer' than the first one I tried! Add some soy sauce onto it. Some writings did say that I should wear gloves when handling it. We don't want me burning my stomach lining after all. "Hmmm.. Tea spoon or table spoon?" I thought. "Ala.. Table spoon. Alang-alang" I said. Then I scooped the soy sauce together with the seeds and skin, put it in my mouth! (Nothing). Tried again (Still nothing!). Third try (Stillllllll nothing!). In the end, I poured the whole thing on my curry beef and finished my meal. 

What a let down :(. Hottest chili in the world? Whose world exactly? Recently, a Mr Chin Teck Ming, suggested that I should look for Chili Porok from Kota Belud. Purportedly to be very hot. Anyone from Kota Belud?

RTM Bloopers.

This just happened about half an hour ago, around 2:30 p.m. I was driving back from the bank and was tune to channel 99.10, I don't know which station it was but I just tuned in to the only English speaking channel I could tune in to. That's how it is with the signal here in Beaufort, sometimes I can get more than two English speaking channel, sometimes none at all. 

Anyway, I came to a halt at a railway crossing because a train was on the tract. It was a long train, so it was a long wait. Then a program came on air. The lady broadcaster said that the program was a joint collaboration between RRI (Indonesian radio), RTB (Brunei Radio) and RTM. It is called Malaysia Delight. 

Radio :, we are going to talk about Ikan Lekor.....from the East Coast of Malaysia....

Me    : East Coast of Malaysia? Hmm... Perhaps they going to talk about Semporna or Tawau. Ikan Lekor?

Radio : in the state of Terengganu.... 

Me     : huh? *facepalm*


March 20, 2012

Beaufort - Venice of the East

The town of Beaufort was founded in 1898 by the Managing Director of the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBCC), Mr William C. Cowie. This would make it about 114 years old this year. It is named after Sir Leicester Beaufort who was then the Governor of Labuan and British North Borneo (1895 – 1900). 

W.C. Cowie and A. Cook with the Sultan of Sulu

There were of course existing settlements in the vicinity of Beaufort prior to 1898, mostly in areas like Padas Damit, Klias, Jimpangah etc. Prior to the arrival of the BNBCC to this part of Sabah, the people in these areas were ruled by local Chieftains. Cowie established the town of Beaufort at the banks of the Padas River that runs through the heart of the town. He probably did not know that this area was prone to flooding. Otherwise, he would have had reconsidered his choice of a site for new town. Despite the occasional inconvenience of flooding, the new township remained where it is. No doubt in part, due to the Padas River; the very same source of the inconvenience. The Padas River was the 'highway' of old.

Padas River Circa 1915
When people think about site seeing, Beaufort would probably be the least considered destination. That is what Beaufort is to most people; Just a transit town to them. People coming from Sarawak, Brunei and Sipitang have to drive pass Beaufort to Kota Kinabalu but only on a very rare occasion that you see them stopping at Beaufort to sample what it has to offer. Once a girl from Sipitang asked me whether Beaufort has any nightspots. It is to my knowledge that this girl always drive to Kota Kinabalu for the weekend. So I asked her, “You always drive pass Beaufort on your way to Kota Kinabalu. Hadn't you even once stop by and check out the town?” She replied me with a definite NO.

Kung Ming Primary School
Kung Ming Primary School 1953

Well, we from Beaufort cannot really blame them for their attitude towards Beaufort because we really do not have much to offer, in terms of interest and attraction. It is unfortunate because if we scrap the layers of perceived boredom off Beaufort, you would find loads of interesting facts about it. Beaufort has a rich cultural and historical heritage that has to be preserved and thrust to the public knowledge.

During World War II, Beaufort was one of a few towns that witnessed heavy fighting between the Imperial Japanese Army and our Australian liberator. The Australian took a two pronged attack against the Japanese in its mission to liberate North Borneo from Japanese clutches. One of the landing parties made their way to Mempakul while the other one, made their way to Weston. From Weston they made their way up to Beaufort and this was where the Japanese was heavily entrenched. In Beaufort, at a little road named Jalan Tugu next to the old Beaufort police station which presently houses a school for children with special need, there stand a monument to commemorate the bravery of one Private Leslie Starcevich which earned him the Victoria Cross. The vicinity of the site saw heavy fighting between the Australian and Japanese which was determined to hold on to their position. 

Pte Leslie Starcevich who was awarded a Victoria Cross for his valor in Beaufort.
I remember vividly one day, as a youngster, a friend of mine told us that he had stumbled upon some bullets in some brushes behind the railway staff quarters next to SRJK St John. Being inquisitive, my friend and I asked our informant friend to bring us to the site. Upon reaching the site, we found some rusted bullets in a sack but what got our interest more was a small mount where the bullets were found. There were small tunnels inside the mount! Being superstitious then and being afraid of snakes even more, we decided against exploring the tunnels. Recently as an adult, I tried to find the tunnels with a friend from out of town but unfortunately, were unsuccessful. Most likely it is no longer there.

Beaufort also played a role in the survival of our Kota Kinabalu city, which was known as Jesselton then. The following is an excerpt from Sabah – A General Geography by Godfrey A. Chatfield:

No sooner had Jesselton been chosen than it became, in 1900 and 1901, a railway boom town with a population of about 1,500 persons, mostly Chinese labourers. The population decreased, however, as the railway was pushed southwards towards Beaufort and this first phase in the development of Jesselton ended with railway being handed over to the Government on its completion in 1902.

Town Padang is still there but the buildings in the picture no longer there.

A railway without either passengers or cargo to carry is of little use so the coming of rubber to Sabah soon after was a godsend. As the export of rubber expanded after about 1910, so Jesselton slowly grew too. Everything going to, or coming from, the rubber estates had to be handled in Jesselton.”

The rubber producing towns in those days were towns like Tenom, Beaufort and Bongawan. So there you go, our quaint little town helped Jesselton stay afloat! Surely Beaufort deserves more mentions in our travel brochure. Fortunately, Beaufort is experiencing a resurgence of sort with the advent of the booming Palm Oil industry. There are a few development in the town, new hotels are slowly sprouting but how do we get people to come to Beaufort? How do we make Beaufort a tourist attraction? As of now, tourists come to the district only for our wetlands and the Proboscis monkeys while the town itself is most often, ignored. One area worth exploring is to develop our very own heritage attraction. Old buildings need to be preserved. Old buildings like the building that used to house the Kung Ming Kindergarten. It has to be preserved and its background explored.

We need to identify locations where important events took place and perhaps put up a board explaining what happened at the site. For a town as old as Beaufort and played a prominent role in the early economy of the state, it is disheartening that we do not have our own museum to showcase our rich cultural and historical heritage.

We cannot just leave it to the government to look into this, everyone of us has to do our part because at the end of the day, it is our heritage that is in danger of being forgotten.
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