Umno leaders' 'outrageous' reaction to former Suhakam vice-chairman Simon Sipaun's comparison of life in Sabah pre-1963 has riled Sabah PKR.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno has come under fire for trying to deprive former vice-chairman of the Human Rights Commission Malaysia (Suhakam), Simon Sipaun, his right to free speech.
Sabah PKR senior official Kong Hong Ming said the two police reports against Sipaun, over his recent statement that life in Sabah was better prior to joining Malaysia in 1963, were a travesty of justice.
Describing the action of Tawau Umno leaders as “outrageous”, Kong accused them of being ignorant and refusing to accept the bitter truth of Sabah’s condition which Sipaun pointed out had deteriorated over the last 47 years.
Sipaun made his observations of the condition of Sabah before the former British colony joined Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak to form Malaysia in 1963, during the closing of the inter-party dialogue-cum-leadership seminar organised by Borneo Heritage Foundation (BHF) here last Saturday.
“What is so sensitive when he was merely stating the facts, which are true?
“I am very sure many of us will share the considered assessment of the situation as described by Simon (Sipaun), who had held many important positions in the state administration since independence until 1993 other than serving as the chairman of Sabah Public Service Commission from 1993 to 2003.
“There were just too many good things to remember in the good old days, even though Sabah was less developed. I have no doubt that security was then much better – there was no security metal grill or alarm system or solid fencing in my parents’ house.
“I remember we did not have to shut or multi-lock our front door as we are doing now. There was no pressing problem on illegal immigrants in the state, just to name a few.
“Therefore, I do agree with his assessment when he said life in Sabah was better prior to joining Malaysia in 1963 as it is more or less at par with then Malaya whose own development was also not that advanced at that time,” Kong said.
Kong also pointed out that the indigenous people were no longer free to enter state land or to take jungle produce as was freely practised since time immemorial before the existence of any form of government administration.
“They (the natives) are at times the oppressed groups due to land grabs and encroachment,” he said in defending Sipaun’s statement that life in Sabah was not as good as it used to be.