Stephens decides not to stand in first polls
Published on: Saturday, October 16, 2021
By: Kinabalu Sunday Times
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(Sunday, February 12, 1967)

JESSELTON, Sat. – Dato Donald Stephens, President of Upko, this evening categorically said that he would not stand for the forthcoming State Legislative Assembly elections in April.

Dato Stephens, speaking at a party given in his honour at the premises of the Kadazan Society at Penampang said: “To clear up all rumours let me tell you that I do not intend to stand for the elections. All I want to do is to see Upko properly represented in the Alliance.”

He added that he was sure that the Alliance leaders would see to it that the Alliance remained together and work together for Sabah and its people.

Dato Stephens said his retirement from politics was not due to “diplomatic illness” or political illness, but he was really sick and went to Japan for treatment.

He said that there were also other reasons, the main one was that he felt that Upko must not leave the Alliance. Because of the political tensions at the time of his retirement, the misunderstanding and mistrust after Singapore’s separation and the Upko’s request for re-examination of Sabah’s terms of entry into Malaysia, he thought the Alliance could have been broken up if he did not resign as President of Upko.

He said that he had every intention to remain retired. He had, in fact, asked Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister, to give him a job sit that he could remain retired from politics. But when Upko members asked him to return he agreed only because he felt that it was necessary to keep the party together and on condition that Upko must forget past misunderstanding and differences and do all it could to strengthen the Alliance. 

“I still do not want any office. and as I have pointed out to the leaders of our party, I shall go anywhere should the Prime Minister, the Tunku, give me a job to do for our country,” Dato Stephens said. 

He added that he also felt very strongly that the bumiputra people should do everything to solve their differences and that they should not allow differences among themselves to grow to the extent where it was detrimental to the good of the bumiputras. 

He added that he was not being a racialist. He sincerely believed in multi-racialism but it was also a fact that the bumiputras were the ones who were furthermost behind and the more they quarreled among themselves the slower would be the progress which they hoped to make in all fields.

To see this he was willing to make any sacrifice which was necessary personally.

Dato Stephen referring to the allocation of seats each party would be given to contest in the elections, said it was not an easy matter. Very often leaders fell out and some left their party because of the difficulty encountered in the allocation of constituencies to party candidates.

“The Alliance has four parties in it and each party no doubt feels that it should get the number of seats it wants which of course is impossible. But I am sure that with patience and a spirit of give-and take, the Alliance will be able to solve this matter satisfactorily.

“I do hope that Upko members will realise the difficulties involved and will abide by the decision which their leaders will have to make which will not be easy.”

Touching on “Independents” who are reported to contest the elections. Dato Stephens said there was no chance of their winning as long as the Alliance stick together and fight the elections shoulder to shoulder.

This was what Upko must strive to do – to work in the closest possible co-operation with the other members of the Alliance to ensure an Alliance victory.

“Although the independents cannot win maybe it would be a good thing that some of them should stand because otherwise there would be a complete walkover and our people will not be able to learn the actual mechanics of an election and to see true democracy in action. On other hand, of course independents may not like to sacrifice their deposit just to give us a lesson in democracy!” Dato Stephens quipped.

Stressing the need for national solidarity, the Upko President said with elections now clearly in sight “we must be clearly in sight not to bring up issues and say things which can spoil the good atmosphere among us.”

There was no need to demand, they could always ask and ask in a fraternal way which would both cause antagonism and enmity.

“We must not only see things through our own rose tinted glasses and expect to get all that we see; we must understand the difficulties of others. If we expect sympathy for our cause and what we hope to achieve we must be prepared to give sympathy ourselves and to try and understand the difficulties of others as we would expect them to understand our difficulties.

“Do not say anything which is likely to cause misunderstanding in the Alliance; most important of all, never speak ill of our brothers in the Alliance. If we are not satisfied with what has happened in the past, no point is gained by bringing it up now.

“We have decided that we want to stay in the Alliance and we must work constructively and try to get what we want in good spirit and without recrimination,” he told his Kadazan audience.

Dato Stephens added that this must not be taken as a sign of weakness because it was not.

Saying that he is proud to be a Kadazan, the Upko President said:

“It is our unity which has given us the strength and the courage to start a political party while the British were still here; the Colonial government which frowned on politics had to accept that the Kadazans or Dusuns do exist as human beings and that their voice asking that they be treated as human beings was heard because we were united. Let none among us break this unity. I do not mean here to revive what was been called “Kadazanism” but it is a fact that we are Kadazans or Dusuns and nothing can change this, and it is to our interest that we should be together because apart from anything else, of our comity of interest: the similarity of our language, culture, our way of life and that we came from Nunuk Ragang. 

This must not mean that we are trying to make the fact that we are Kadazans super cede the fact that we are Malaysians. No and a thousand times no, but just as the Hakkas have Hakka Associations, the Hokkiens Hokkien Association and so on and this in no way make them less Chinese, or in the Malaysian context, any less Malaysian, the fact that we are kadazans should never make us think or feel less Malaysian.

“There has been a tendency of late for some people to pick at us and make us feel that it is somehow wrong that we should think of ourselves as Kadazans or Dusuns. We should never be ashamed of our Kadazan or Dusun heritage, just as our Malay brothers are proud of being Malays, the Chinese proud of being Chinese, the Indians being Indians and so on, we should also be proud of being Kadazans, remembering always that all of us, Malays, Chinese, Indians Kadazan and so on are Malaysians, and that we owe complete loyalty an allegiance to our nation, Malaysia and that we are proudest of all to be Malaysians.

“Another thing is the question of kadazan and Dusun. The important thing is that we are one people; in our great desire to unite people in Colonial days some of us went to extremes and tried to force others to accept one name Kadazans. 

This has only caused misunderstanding and even mistrust among some of us. We are more matured now and see clearly that the name should be left to us to choose, if we prefer to be called Dusuns that us what we should be, remembering always that whatever name we prefer to go by, we are the same people.

“I have dwelt at some length on this subject because I feel there is need for it to be said. I see that many of our people are beginning to be shy about wearing Kadazan dress or even our Kadazan siga (head dress), especially among the young and our haahangai, who formerly always wore traditional dress on special occasions now very rarely do so. 

This is sad. Be modern by all means; we must march with the times, but let us not forget our roots, kachang jangan lupa kulit. Malaysia’s people comprise many races, among them is the Kadazan or Dusun, casting away our Kadazan mantle would leave us naked, race-less. We must all strive towards the day when people will no longer think of themselves as Malays, Chinese, Indians, kadazans, Dayaks, Ibans and son on but only as Malaysians, but that day has not arrived and throwing away our precious heritage, given to us our forbearers now could only be to our detriment, to lose the real roots we have in our country and in Malaysia because our country is part of Malaysia,” Dato Stephens said.


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