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Passing of a human asset for Sabah
Published on: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Mourners at the funeral mass of the late Datuk Anthony Koshy described him as one of the Malaysians from the peninsula whose tenure in Sabah left the State feeling better about itself.

Koshy, 63, who was cremated Monday after a noon funeral mass celebrated by Fr Cosmas Lee, Rector of St Simon's Catholic Church, in Likas, was a Daily Express Guest Columnist. His last post was as financial and legal consultant to Sabah Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

He died of lung complications after a short illness and is survived by wife, Elizabeth, and three children.

Koshy came to Sabah in the 1970s to head the Bank Bumiputra branch - a rare feat for a young and rising non-Bumiputra banker - before joining Sabah Bank as its Loans Manager.

However, a change of government saw his removal from Sabah Bank but Koshy won a court case on grounds of unfair dismissal which saw him awarded RM1.4 million and an order to be reinstated. But he never stayed long.

Instead, he went into legal practice after qualifying as a lawyer during his dismissal and was recalled by the State Government to head the Desa Group of companies, a decision that Sabahans can be thankful for.

When it came to his knowledge that remaining Desa land in Kundasang and Keningau were also about to be grabbed by eager buyers, he traveled all the way to Kundasang to order the lawyer to stop what he is doing and that the remaining lands are not negotiable so long as he is Desa Group CEO.

His action, with the blessing of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, saved Sabahans the prospect of seeing further loss of precious land, having already lost Desa's other landed assets in a previous controversial deal, notably its cattle farms in Keningau and flagship cattle farm in Darwin, Northern territory, Australia.

The cattle project was a brilliant idea of ex-CM Tan Sri Harris Salleh to see Sabah become self-sufficient in meat and possibly export.

By then, Desa Cattle's land bank in Keningau had shrunk to a mere thousand acres from 18,000 acres while the buyers of the property reportedly made huge profits happily ever after by converting it to oil palm in a joint venture.

"He was one of the best friends that I had, a sincere friend, a good Christian.

It's a great loss to me personally," said George de Silva. "He was helpful to a lot of people including my friend here, John Hee, we all knew him since 1976 when he was first with Bank Bumi."

"As human beings, we all got problems but at the same time, Koshy got his own good qualities," said KJ Joseph.

"He could have retired to enjoy life, but to the end, he gave his all for Sabah.

(CM) Musa trusted him, that's why he was still working in IDS," said Joseph.

"He was a good friend, talented, worked in various capacities and organisations, helpful, and that's why I am going to the crematorium to send him all the way off this last journey.

He was an asset for Sabah," he said.

Former Sabah Bank colleague Judy Gomez recalled that, "he was a fair boss who got unfairly retrenched, he sued and was reinstated for a few months before he left for KPD and Desa Cattle."

"I knew him from 1975, his elder brother was my history teacher but in Bentong," said Kuna Sekaraf.

"Great man and a very humble person. If you go to him for any advice, I think he is a great guy in many sense."

Madam Thangam Rajah Ratnam remembered Koshy as "a very hard working and a very genuine person, helpful, very proud of his culture, being an Indian and a Malayalee from Kerela, India, and very good hearted.

"We were actually really very shocked, because I have seen through the illness and I saw him from Day One that he was admitted to hospital and he was going through a lot of difficulties, the doctors tried their very best but the infection really got over him," said Thangam. "God had taken him to relieve him of his suffering."

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