Images of ‘New Sabah’ emerging at her Sunduvan Kapayan event last Saturday
By JOE LEONG
AFTER all the euphoria over “Sabah Baru” and the attendant administrative changes following the outcome of GE14, it makes one wonder whether these changes in the state have any effect at all on the people at the grassroots level.
In search of an answer to this question, this writer went to the hall at Kg Nosoob Baru in Penampang district last Saturday (May 26) and joined the villagers there in celebrating Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) and the successful “Ubah” that they have just experienced.
The event was hosted by newly elected DAP State Assemblywoman for Kapayan, Jannie Lasimbang, who is also serving now as Assistant Minister of Law and Native Affairs in the Warisan-led State Government.
The new Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal, who led the Warisan group in spearheaded the wind of change in the state, has repeatedly stressed since coming into office on the need to place care for the people and their interests above all else.
As the villagers mingled around and started witnessing various activities like rice winnowing and loudly cheering contestants of traditional games like arms wrestling, they began to notice images of the new era in Sabah.
The first thing that struck the kampung folks was that their new Wakil Rakyat insists on called Yang Berkhidmat, instead of the all familiar ‘Yang Berhormat’, salutation.
The words, “Yang Berkhidmat” were clearly stated below an image of the Kapayan ADUN on the stage backdrop. Many were seen getting to the edge of the stage just to look at the words in disbelief. “Is it a case of wrong spelling?” someone asked. This new outlook soon became a favourite talking point among the guests.
To their surprise, they found their Yang Berkhidmat Jannie meant to live up to that title and conducted herself accordingly throughout the celebration programme.
They observed that instead of being usually treated with great honour and respect by sitting at a well decorated head table with some VIP guests, their new YB went around personally meeting all the guests present in the hall ensuring that they felt welcome and were well attended to.
She was constantly on the move for hours, just to meet, chat and be with the people who had come from not only Kg Nosoob Baru but many other parts of Kapayan. She was seen happily having photos taken with them, females and males alike.
When the turn for a dozen of her very hardworking organisers came to present a couple of songs on stage, she spontaneously joined them and sang along with them.
She showed by action, not by mere words or slogans, on how to be truly “with the people”.
This does not mean she neglected people of importance among the guests. For instance, she invited Simon Sipaun who was among the notables present, to join her on stage for the official launching ceremony, much to the surprise of the latter.
This form of casual and informal approach at public functions is rare. It is one of the new images emerging in Sabah Baru. Such actions would have been considered taboo in the past as they run contrary to official protocol.
She had earlier received DAP colleagues like Chan Foong Hin, MP of Kota Kinabalu and Tan Lee Fatt, State Assemblyman for Likas, and accorded them due respect and dignity.
In her straightforward speech, she told the gathering that the celebration was in fact in direct answer to the needs of the people at Kg Nosoob Baru, one of 23 kampung in the Kapayan constituency.
“They told us that no one would organise the Kaamatan celebration for them. So here we are, the DAP and others are here to make it possible and of course we celebrate the new State Government as well,” she happily announced.
Another personal trait of the new Kapayan YB that endeared her with the raykat was her truthfulness and sincerity.
She admitted to the audience in her address that within the past fortnight, she had already discovered an administrative hindrance at the Penampang Distric Office, a matter that calls for her service to improve the government delivery system.
She acknowledged that the entire Sunduvan Kapayan event was the fruit of the generous sharing of the people who helped not only to organise it but made contributions in many forms, including the preparation of a wide array of traditional Kadazan delicacies like hivana and rice wrapped in leaves.
Jannie called on Kg Nosoob Baru folks to appreciate and preserve the heritage and cultural background of the village and to ensure that its buildings and environments reflect the rich cultural brackground of the local people who are mainly from the Kadazan community.
Behind it all, there was yet another good cause for celebration and thanksgiving.
The electoral success of Jannie was particularly outstanding. Many others who won were branded as “giant killers”. She certainly deserves to be counted as one of them. Her BN contestant was Goh Fah Sun, a player in property development.
Goh’s image appeared on huge billboards towering over many traffic junctions in the Kapayan area during the campaign whilst Jannie, with her limited funds, was content with only the display of candidacy T-boards.
Her image of service for the people in the past and her trustworthiness must have been imbedded in the hearts of the voters, as the outcome of the election clearly indicated.
The people in the area gave her a resounding victory. Jannie received 19,558 votes; more than three times that received by Goh, with a majority of 13,250, which incidentally is the highest majority recorded in this round of Sabah state polls.
The steady flow of people who came to the Kg Nosoob Baru hall for the Sunduvan Kapayan celebration throughout that day till almost midnight was solid testimony of her popularity.
Following the event, Sonnie Hamdin, president of the Nosoob Youth Force that co-organised it, thanked Jannie for choosing the Kg Nosoob Baru dewan for the celebration.
“We have been looking for this (collaboration) for so many years, election after election. Kapayan is (now) blessed with a very down to earth YB. The event was superb and hope we can co-organise the next one,” he told the newly elected Wakil Rakyat.
The task ahead for Jannie Lasimbang and other leaders in the new administration in Sabah is indeed formidable, to say the least.
Hopes of the rakyat are many and wide ranging. Their expectations for fulfilment of promises are high, immediate and urgent.
The new signs witnessed at Kg Nosoob Baru hall on May 26 are positive and encouraging. That’s definitely not good enough.
These brilliant signals of change are like a breath of fresh air.
But they will have to be followed closely by the effective implementation of sound policies, plans and programmes that would ultimately bear rich harvests for the peoples and the state in the months and years ahead.
Kotobian Tadau Tagazo Do Kaamatan!
• Our guest writer Datuk Joseph Leong Sai Ho, better known in the local media simply as Joe Leong, has been a discerning observer of political development in Sabah since the state held its first direct general elections in 1967 when he was head of the Press Division of Jabatan Penerangan.