Activists rue folding of Daily Express’ Kadazan section

The Kadazan Dusun section of the Daily Express had been running since the paper’s inception in 1963.

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts to promote a local language took a blow with last weekend’s cessation of the Kadazan Dusun section of the Daily Express, advocates of the language have complained.

Kadazan Language Foundation CEO Rita Lasimbang and her brother, Senator Adrian Lasimbang of DAP, said the section had been doing a great service in giving prestige to the language.

The Daily Express cited dropping advertising revenue caused by the Covid-19 crisis for its decision to fold the insert it had been running since the paper’s inception in 1963.

“It’s sad,” said Rita. “The Daily Express via its Kadazan section contributed a lot to the Kadazan language. Many Kadazan lessons were published in the paper and were useful to those learning the language.

“When we first introduced the Kadazan spelling standard to the public, it was published in the paper.”

She said having a Kadazandusun section in a recognised paper meant acknowledgement of the language’s stature.

It also promoted its written form, she told FMT.

Adrian said he wondered whether the paper’s decision had anything to do with a decline in the use of the language among young people.

“We should work towards preserving the language,” he said.

He suggested that the effort to promote the language be continued online. “Everyone can contribute to this,” he said. “I would like to encourage people to write in Kadazan, including in our Facebook accounts, at least once a week.”

The New Sabah Times is the only main paper in the state still printing a Kadazandusun section. The Borneo Post stopped publishing its section in 2018.

Daily Express editor-in-chief James Sarda has told FMT the paper is hoping to restart the section when the economy recovers.

Benedict Topin of the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) said he hoped to see the community reacting to the Daily Express decision by coming up with its own initiatives to promote the language.

“We have to muster our courage and our own resources to publish news in Kadazandusun,” he told FMT.

Topin, who heads KDCA’s socio-cultural heritage department, said there had already been calls from members to have their own daily or weekly publications and an e-bulletin in Kadazandusun.

“We will take this up in our central committee’s meeting.”

He said he would disagree with anyone suggesting that the language is dying among the young, adding that there had been efforts to ramp up the learning of the native tongue.

“I am more optimistic now that we are starting kindergartens that use the language as a medium of instruction,” he said. “Our only challenge is in the funding of these schools.

“Another reason for optimism is the improvement in our teaching of Kadazandusun, now that more teachers are graduating with a major in the language.”

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