Kadazan Community Desires Our Mother Tongue Continues To Exist

The present SK Puun Tunoh was once the Native Voluntary School set up by the writer’s father.

COMMENT: I refer to a statement made by Mr. Bartholomew Jingulam, Secretary General of Kadazan Society Sabah (KSS) in a local newspaper on 9 May 2019.

I quote, “KSS is not against any other language being taught in schools but if we manage to get approval on it (Kadazan) and the implementation of it thereafter, at least the Kadazan children will have the right to choose their own “Mother Tongue” language in schools and then would it be right to call it their “Mother Tongue” language if they are allowed to learn it”.

I feel very happy that the Kadazan parents are aware of the importance to teach their own mother tongue to their children and grandchildren. I belong to a generation who were born before Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963.


I studied together with my Kadazan and Dusun friends. We did not quarrel about the language we spoke. We had one common aspiration that was to pursue education to whatever level we could manage and afford. After school, my friends and I would speak our respective mother tongue that is Kadazan or Dusun.

In the early 1950s, my late father Josue Moinin left St. Michael School in Penampang where he was teaching to start a Native Voluntary School (NVS) at Kampung Puun Tunoh near the present SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin. He built the school on his own land where he became the first teacher.

The medium of instruction was in Kadazan while not losing sight of the English language as an enabler to further the children’s education.

Informal learning of Kadazan mother tongue.

We had Kadazan mother tongue classes which included reading, writing, composition and the basic usage of the alphabets for example, A, BA, CA, DA, FA, GA, HA; I, BI, CI, DI, FI, GI, HI; O, BO, CO, DO, FO, GO, HO; U, BU, CU, DU, FU, GU, HU and so on. It made the learning of the Kadazan mother tongue easy.

Obviously, a lot of my friends in and around NVS Kg Puun Tunoh (now SK Kg Puun Tunoh) including me are the product of that humble kampung school. We went to further our study in secondary schools and even to university for some. And because of the early teaching of Kadazan mother tongue in schools, we have a good command of our mother tongue.

During this season of Kaamatan and Hari Raya Puasa, it is heartening as well as encouraging to note that the Kadazan community maintains their passion to preserve their mother tongue and what better way is to have it taught in schools and at the same time, “not against any other language being taught in schools”.

Kadazan children struggling to study mother tongue at home.

My simple understanding of the above statement by Mr Jingulam is that the other communities such as Dusun, Rungus, Suang Lotud, Murut, Bajau, Kedayan and others are free and not in any way prevented to teach their respective mother tongues but rather encouraged to do so.

As I reflect on this issue, I am surprised and puzzled with a newspaper report entitled, “Stop polemic on Kadazandusun language : Madius” which appeared on 23 May 2019 in the same newspaper.

Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said, “The Kadazandusun community need to stop the ongoing polemic on the standardization of the Kadazandusun language which is based on the Bundu-Liwan dialect, and start moving forward.

“This is vital as the community is confronted with an even greater challenge which is the extinction of their mother tongue primarily due to their own tendency to speak Malay to their young ones instead of their mother tongue.”

No teaching of Kadazan mother tongue in schools so children attend ad-hoc informal class by volunteers.

His statement prompts me to comment.

There is no quarrel. All we the Kadazan community wants is that their Kadazan mother tongue be taught in schools to preserve their God-given mother tongue. I do not see anything wrong with that.

And more so when the Education Act 1996 as I understand it states that for as long as there are at least fifteen students in a particular school, the parents can request for their mother tongue to be taught in that school.

As an elderly Kadazan, a Malaysian Sabahan who has experienced the pre-formation of Malaysia era until the present New Malaysia, I share the prayer and desire of the Kadazan community that my mother tongue continues to exist.

This would be the best Kaamatan gift that I could ask for this year.

Kotobian om kounsikaan Tadau Tagazo do Kaamatan.

* Aloysius Moinin is a former Wakil Ketua Anak Negeri. He lives in Kapazan, Penampang