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.

March 19, 2012

An account of Mat Salleh by Fraser

The following report was published by The Straits Time dated 4 July 1899.

Mat Salleh's sword which he surrendered to Cowie in one of their encounters

Mat Salleh, the rebel chief who has given no end of trouble to the British North Borneo Government until he secured easy terms for submissions has again taken on bad courses. He and the Tegahu tribe attacked several of the Sanswon tribe. Mr Fraser, a Government official, last April, went in person in search of Mat Salleh to call him to account. Mr Fraser met Mat Salleh in person, and had great difficulty in bringing him around. The following are extracts from Mr Fraser’s report:

I then spoke to Mat Salleh about attacking the Sanswon and told him Government expected him to stop that sort of thing and asked him to help me bring about a meeting of the chiefs of the Tegahus and the chiefs of Sanswon and Tambunan; to this he at once agreed and a meeting was arranged for next day. I pointed out to him that any question of compensation for loss of buffaloes or other property and for heads must be relegated to a future date, as both sides were too far sore for there to be any chances of a quiet settlement at present. Mat Salleh wished to dispense altogether with any question of compensation. I, however, pointed out that as he and his friends had seized upwards of eighty buffaloes and also other property, besides killing over thirty people and whereas he and his friends had lost no property and very few lives, his suggestion was rather one-sided and unfair; so he agreed to leave the question of settlement at a future meeting. On the day and place for the meeting, I went and met Mat Salleh and told him that, as we had come unarmed, he and his people must do the same and he gave orders accordingly. Before the ceremony of swearing peace began, Mat Salleh again opened up the question of compensation, and for nearly an hour gave me reason after reason why his plan was better, however, I did not see it in his light and so he gave in. All went off quietly till near the end when there was some slight trouble, a Tambunan man, dressed in loin cloth and a soldier’s scarlet tunic with white facings, suggesting that if a Bajow tribesman was caught stealing eggs or fowls, might all the curses rest on his head. Mat Salleh got annoyed and it was not until it had been pointed out to him that there was no reason to take it personally that he quieted down; still it rather spoilt the harmony which up to then existed. After the whole thing was over and having taken a photo of Mat Salleh, I returned to Nodoh. I wrote to Mat Salleh, impressing on him that in the future, if he had any complaint against the Tambunans, he must complain to the Government and not fight.

Note : Who were the Sanswon? What happened to the picture of Mat Salleh that Fraser took?

March 15, 2012

Kinabalu Guerillas : Lim Keng Fatt

Lim Keng Fatt (林廷法)was a member of the Kinabalu Guerillas. In other literature, his name is also spelled as Lim Ting Fatt. Lim was a well established businessman in the business community in Bond Street (present Gaya Street).

He was the richest Hainanese among the Hainan community in then Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu). Lim was a partner of Ban Guan Company in Bond Street. He held agency right to Philip radios and donated a radio to Albert Kwok, the leader of the Kinabalu Guerilla. Of course, he did more than just donated a radio to Kwok. He acted as intermediary between Kwok and Lieutenant Colonel Alejandro Suarez, commander of the US Forces in the Philippines (USFP) based in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines.

Lim Keng Fatt was returning with a party of fresh fighters from the Philippines and consignment of weapons from USFP to reinforce the Kinabalu Guerilla. They arrived in North Borneo 29 December 1943 from Tawi-Tawi. Unfortunately, Albert Kwok and his men had surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Army on 19 December 1943. Lim was reported betrayed by the natives in Tuaran to the Japanese and was beheaded at the age of 51, weeks after the uprising. Based on this information, we can deduce that he was born in 1893. Country of birth, hitherto, remains unknown until further information surface.

With thanks to Mr Bartholomew Chua of Gaya Street

March 13, 2012

Nurul Nadirah Abdullah

I'm blogging this for the benefit of my overseas followers. The missing 5 year old Sabahan child, Nurul Nadirah Abdullah, whom had been missing since 1 March 2012 has been found. However, the happy ending that most of us have been rooting for is not to be. 

Dirang, as she was affectionately called, went missing on 1 March 2012 when she went to a nearby store to buy some eggs and instant noodles. The store was within walking distance from her home in the Seri Delima apartments, Bandar Seri Alam. 

The mother, a Sabahan, had been criticized heavily for letting her child go out by herself, explained that she had been allowing her child wander about their housing area because a lot of her relatives stay in the area and she felt safe.

Dirang's charred remains were found in some Oil Palm estate recently and the police announced on Monday, 12 March 2012, that through DNA testing, they have ascertained that the remain was that of Dirang's. 

Dirang's mother, Roselyn Alan, is understandably inconsolable; Who could? I won't criticize her for being too trusting of her neighbourhood. She is already paying the price it. 

Nonetheless, let this be a cautionary tale to every parents out there. When it comes to the safety of your child, being extra vigilant is better than being sorry. How often have we heard that we should not turn our back for even a second when it comes to the safety of our child. A lot of thing could happen in a second! Especially if you live in the city. This is not the first girl that has been murdered. Couple of years there was another case which was highly publicized in West Malaysia. The girl was reported to have been sexually abused before being murdered. There are perverts out there who prey on children.

Investigation is ongoing and I hope the police apprehend the murderers soon. The full weight of the law should be brought upon the perpetrators of this heinous crime against a helpless child. 

Rest in peace Dirang.    

March 9, 2012

Crocodile Victim in Membakut in 1931

17 February 1931, The Straits Time carried a news reported originally by The Sarawak Gazette. In early part of the day, the manager of Membakut Estate, Mr R.K. Hardwick, had gone fish bombing in one of the pools in Membakut River. 

Having blasted one pool and secured what fish were 'put up', his party went on upstream to the next pool. Some Dusuns in the village in which he passed, hearing that 'tembak ikan' was afoot, at once, as in their custom it said, came uninvited to partake in the fish gathering. 

Coming to the pool which had just been blasted, they reconnoitre its depths in the hope of picking up a few 'stragglers'. Among the party of uninvited guests, there was a Dusun youth who jumped first into the pool. The rest was about to join him when they heard him screaming for help. To their horror, they saw the youth in the jaws of a huge crocodile. In desperation, the youth's wife, a handsome looking Dusun woman (curious why the paper had to emphasize on this) jumped into the pool to rescue her beloved husband. Four other Dusun men followed suit. Their scream and shrieks apparently scared the crocodile away and it gave up its meal.

The youth was brought to the river bank, still alive but his chest badly wounded by the crocodile's bite and bleeding profusely. Mr Hardwick by now was alerted by the commotion came to his aid. He brought the youth to the estate hospital but the youth became unconscious and died on the way. 

Source : The Straits Time 17 February 1931 - Crocodile's Victim : Young man dives to Death in Pool

A Fight to the Death

An account by Mr R.K. Hardwick of his encounter with a Moro that almost ended his life. Hardwick was the Assistant District Officer of the Labuk and Sugut District in 1908 in the then British North Borneo.

In 1908, an appeal from the Panglima of the Tigabu Island was sent to the Resident of Kudat. Tigabu is an island about 20 miles north of the Paitan River. Hardwick described the inhabitants of the island as a mixture of sea Bajaus and Binadans.

In that same year, a Moro from Tawi Tawi group of islands in the Sulu Sea escaped from the American authority and fled to Tigabu. He was wanted for several murders by the American and a price was put on his head. He was wanted 'dead or alive'. This Moro's name was Si Kisi or just Kisi.
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