KENINGAU: The relocation ceremony of the Keningau Oath Stone or Batu Sumpah, steeped in the Kadazandusun and Murut customs, was carried out smoothly Sunday.
Keningau district officer Yusop Osman said the Oath Stone was lifted and transported to its new home using a truck and it was followed closely by bobolian (shaman) Muri Gulim and his 1,000-member group who marched closely for one kilometre.
Yusop said the relocation of the Oath Stone from the Keningau district secretariat office to the Keningau Warisan Museum costing about RM1.025 million.
“The ceremony, steeped in the Kadazandusun and Murut customs, is similar to the time when it was first erected on Aug 31, 1964,” he told reporters after witnessing the ceremony that was officiated by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister’s political secretary Raymond Ahuar.
The Oath Stone was of historical importance, not only for Keningau and Sabah, but Malaysia as a whole as its existence closely related to the formation of Malaysia.
On Aug 31, 1964, the then Federal Labour Minister Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam officiated the placing of the Oath Stone, witnessed, among others, by Sabah Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and Dusun community leader Datuk G.S Sundang.
It served to assure the Sabahans that their rights to religious freedom, land, culture and customs are guaranteed.
However, a local leader Ricky Sedomon said the ceremony to relocate the Batu Sumpah would have been more meaningful with the attendance of all local community leaders as the monument is of historical significance, said.
Ricky (son of the founding father, the late Datuk Seri Panglima Sedomon Gunsanad Kina) said the oath stone, created following discussions between previous political leaders, was to display the terms under which the Kadazandusun and Murut (KDM) communities agreed to the formation of the Federation.
“Personally, I am quite disappointed because leaders such as Keningau MP Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Kadazandusun Murut Cultural Association president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, should have been present at this ceremony regardless of their political affiliation.
“I hope these leaders would attend future historic occasion such as this, as this oath stone belongs to everyone regardless of status,” he said when met by reporters after the ceremony here.
Ricky who is also law practitioner said, the setting up of the Keningau Oath Stone was initiated by Sabah rural KDM leaders who had originally opposed the move to join the Malaysian Federation in 1963.
“The oath stone materialised after the then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein came to our family home in Bingkor to talk to my late father (a native chief in Keningau) and to agree to the formation of Malaysia,” he added.