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PUBLISHED: Sep 19, 2014 7:00am

Sabah leaders see red over omitted words on historical Batu Sumpah

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SANDRA SOKIAL By:
Sandra Sokial

The original Batu Sumpah in Keningau with the words 'Kerajaan Malaysia Jamin'. Sabah leaders have stated they want the omitted wordings be restored soon. — File pic

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KOTA KINABALU, Sept 19, 2014:

Sabah leaders are calling for the restoration of the three important words — Kerajaan Malaysia Jamin — on the historical Batu Sumpah in Keningau.

They say these words reflect the “guarantees” from the newly-formed nation to the conditions set and, in return, of the interior natives’ loyalty pledges towards the government.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, in demanding the words be restored, stressed the oath stone was considered significant and important, and that a special ritual was done before it was planted at the Keningau District Office compound.

“These words are important to signify what was in the minds of the people. Heritage that should be maintained,” stressed Pairin, who is also the Huguon Siou (the Kadazandusun Paramount Leader) and the Parti Bersatu Sabah president.

He said the Batu Sumpah (Oath Stone) is a heritage that needs to be protected, and that no one can change history.

“If the wordings are taken off, then it must be put back. I don’t know whether it was done on purpose, but whoever did it must confess and amend the wrong soon.

“It is not nice to spoil other people’s property. It belongs to the public,” he said when met after launching the Sabah International Expo 2014, here, yesterday.

Being the Keningau Member of Parliament, Pairin said he would instruct the District Officer to restore the “Kerajaan Malaysia Jamin” (Malaysia Government Guarantees) wording on the oath stone.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Majnun, when asked on the issue, said: “First we need to find out how they (the wordings) went missing — whether due to the effect of weather (aging) or they were purposely scraped off.

“Then can we find ways to restore or correct the wrong.”

The missing wordings alarmed the Sabah Opposition leaders as well, with Sabah State Reform Party (Sabah Star) and Democratic Action Party Sabah launching campaigns to urge the government to make the proper correction.

Both parties will also be lodging police reports, demanding a thorough investigation on the matter to find the culprits behind the missing text.

Sabah Star chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan expressed dismay over the action of the authorities for editing the oath stone by omitting some words on it.

He claimed the removal of the key words “Kerajaan Malaysia Jamin”, meaning “The Malaysian Government Guarantees”, from the stone showed that the Malaysian government cannot be trusted because they can change anything they want, including the history of Malaysia and the rights of Sabah and Sarawak.

“By removing the key words, the government of Malaysia can now say that they do not guarantee religious freedom; forest and natural resources belong to Sabah and the safeguarding of native customs, culture and traditions.

“It reflects the insincere and bad intention of the government,” alleged Jeffrey, the younger brother of Pairin.

“The police action on Malaysia Day in preventing the people from honouring Batu Sumpah is already another step of the government dishonouring and disregarding the terms of the formation of Malaysia,” claimed Jeffrey, adding that the matter had been referred to their panel of lawyers for consideration of action to be taken against the police and government.

Meanwhile, DAP Sabah secretary Dr Edwin Bosi made a police report at the Penampang police station yesterday concerning the oath stone.

“I want the police to investigate and identify the individual or individuals who have tampered with the original text of the oath stone,” said Bosi, who is also the Kapayan assemblyman.

They made the discovery after visiting the oath stone with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang on July 27.

Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee meanwhile said that while the authorities tried hard to bar people from entering the Batu Sumpah vicinity, they cannot deny the promises made in the past.

“They can take people and words away from the Batu Sumpah, but they can never take away the ‘sumpah‘ (oath),” he said.

The inscription on the plaque of the Keningau Oath Stone was written using the old Malay spelling system,  stating the government’s guarantees to respect the three conditions set by the natives in exchange for  their pledge of loyalty to the government.

The three conditions are: freedom of religion in Sabah, the Sabah government to have authority on land issues, and that the native customs and traditions be respected and upheld by the government.

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