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Group going ahead with ritual outside the gate
Published on: Saturday, August 30, 2014

Penampang: The annual ritual performed around the Oath Stone in Keningau by Jaringan Orang Asal Sabah (JOAS) or Sabah Indigenous Network and natives from the surrounding districts will not be carried out there on Aug 31 after all.

It was learnt that the approval given to JOAS on Aug 27 by the Keningau District Office has been withdrawn after a directive from the State Government.

However, JOAS and other NGOs such as Partners of Community Organisations in Sabah (Pacos) and also natives from Sook, Tenom, Pensiangan and from within Keningau will continue with the ritual outside the district office because the bobolians (traditional priestesses) services have already been acquired.

Moreover, technical adviser of JOAS, Adrian Lasimbang, said the event has nothing to do with politics despite some opposition leaders such as Lim Kit Siang (DAP adviser) expected to attend the ritual as an observer.

"We are very disappointed that our request to perform the ritual at the Oath Stone has been withdrawn but we will continue to perform it outside the district office.

"This is because the letter from the District Office merely said that we are not allowed to perform the ritual at the Oath Stone and that the gates of the district office will be shut on that day.

"But it did not state that we cannot perform it outside of the gate," he said.

He said that it is very disappointing that the natives were prevented from performing the annual ceremony when it was clearly etched on the Oath Stone that the government is to respect and to preserve the culture and tradition of the people of Sabah.

He said the ceremony was just to remember the promise by the government made to the natives 51 years ago that it will respect and honour the customs of the natives.

To this, Jimmy Wong, Sabah DAP Chief, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, as the Huguan Siou (paramount leader) of the KDM community ought to do something about it.

Clearly, he said, the natives' practice or tradition has been denied.

"This is a symbolic and ritualistic activity performed by the bobohizans or traditional priests where a buffalo, pig and chicken were sacrificed and their blood poured or splashed over the stone."

To this, he said Sabah DAP would remind the government that it must adhere to the agreement etched on the Oath Stone.

"We want the government to reflect on this agreement.

"In the Oath Stone (Batu Sumpah) declaration the native will remind the government where it believes that the government has sidetracked from the original agreement and propose that the government should quickly return to the correct path," he said.

And in order to find whether the dreams and aspirations of the natives have been achieved, the natives want the Federal Government to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to determine that position whether they were achieved or betrayed in the last 51 years.

The Batu Sumpah Declaration, Wong said, is deemed necessary because in them are the promises or agreement made between the natives of the Interior and the Malaysian government.

The 20 points were the safeguards for Sabah to be in Malaysia, he said.

The natives under the leadership of the late Datuk G S Sundang, he said, went one step further by insisting on having an oath stone to cement the agreement.

The agreement is as follows, freedom of religion in Sabah, land under the jurisdiction of the Sabah Government, respect for culture and tradition of the natives by the government.

And in return, the people of the Interior shall pledge their loyalty to the government of Malaysia, he said.

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