COMMENT: Losing a friend is never easy. I lost one in 1991 in a car accident. Today I lost another dear friend.
I came to know Datuk Badilzaman way back in early 2012. Together with other like-minded Sabahan friends, we formed the Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah or popularly known as SEEDS – an NGO cum think tank to promote progressive society in Sabah.
For us in SEEDS, Badil was a father figure. But moreover, he was our mentor and friend. We will forever remember his humility, his humour and wit, and intellectual tenacity.
As a group, we have done so much under Badil’s leadership. Through SEEDS, Badil wanted to see a better Sabah in Malaysia. He used to call this federation of ours as a ‘federation of interest’ – each component in the federation is unique and bound by common interest.
His deep passion to preserve the country’s ethnic and religious diversity is reflected in his brainchild ‘Living Together – Multi-faith Breaking of Fast’ – where people of many faiths gather to ‘buka puasa’ (or break fast) with the Muslims. The event also gives the opportunity to people to share their experiences living in multi-faith and multicultural society.
When one of us mooted the idea of the ‘Art of Nation Building’ (TANB) Badil sprang into action right away. TANB is one of SEEDS’ flagship programmes to create awareness among the young on the country’s founding through arts and creativity.
Badil is also a seasoned business thinker – he encouraged us to look at Kalimantan as the future area for regional growth. He played an instrumental role in initiating a B2B dialogue between the various parties from North Kalimantan and Sabah.
It is sad that Badil is leaving us just before our SEEDS Hari Raya ‘Open House’ at the Hail’s Riverson – a restaurant he runs with his family members.
I still cannot forget one moment on the way to the airport in KK. I was then grappling with personal issues and needed a friend to talk to. That short conversation with Badil helped calm me down and motivated me to move on. Badil taught me to live deeply and more meaningfully by being kind to myself and to the ones I love.
Datuk Badil, you will be sorely missed and may you rest in peace.
• Arnold Puyok is SEEDS Senior Fellow and teaches at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
FOOTNOTE: The late Badil Zaman is a Sabah-born businessman who made it big in peninsular. Wanting to ‘give back’ to his beloved State he formed SEEDS. His current pet project was to boost trade ties between Sabah and North Kalimantan. He was due to hold the SEEDS Hari Raya ‘Open House’ in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday, June 30 and meet up with friends to discuss more closely, a trade zone at the borders of Tawau and Kalimantan.
After returning from a function in Johor yesterday, he complained of chest pains and was taken to a private hospital. He asked to be moved to Gleneagles instead but on the way, collapsed. He did not recover. He was 61.
Badil’s remains are expected back in Kota Kinabalu at about 4.30pm (Sunday) and will be taken directly to his hometown of Membakut, for burial after prayers.