I could use some good news for a change, and seeing this article overwhelmed me with a rush of emotion. Dr Jeffrey was quoted in a piece as saying he’s “now being viewed with another eye by Malaysians” but I don’t know what he thinks the public think of him , but I know he remains fairly controversial in Malaysia. To me, he is still one of Malaysia’s bravest men and makes all other leaders look like lightweights. When Mahathir knocked him down with the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) it really broke many hearts – not because Jeffrey ‘failed Sabahans’, which is what I fear he might have thought, but because such a brave good man could be put in a position of crippling self-doubt by a KL-centric “Ketuanan Melayu” despot.
It was then.
When I have to face challenging situations or I feel a little troubled or insecure, Dr. Jeffrey immediately comes up in my mind. He set the standard for me. I remember his words and his example: “Do not let a situation intimidate you. You have been prepared to meet any challenge.” Yes this is Jeffrey to me.
I call him “Doc Jef” and I have known him for a long time. The last time I saw him in “Sokid Villa” I spent 2 hours with him and he impressed me about this pan-Borneo grouping he is spearheading and his links with the indigenous folks in Sarawak and Kalimantan. I have to nail my colours to the mast with this one: Jeffrey will always have my respect, and I say that as a person who is not easily impressed by public figures. He has my respect not because he educated me about Mystical Borneo, about the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, about Sabah or about North Borneo or even Sarawak or Kalimantan or even Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but because he’s an ordinary flawed humble Malaysian just like all of us. But unlike the majority of us, he has the guts to do the right thing and stand for the indigenous people of Borneo who are oppressed and have nothing. He reminds me of that Tianamen Square image – the one of a slight defiant figure in front of a phenomenal crushing tank of injustice. His bravery and humility in the face of the Federal Government machine of viciousness has never failed to inspire and impress me, and I think his ideas in this pan Borneo grouping are among the bravest I’ve ever heard him utter so far. What is 20 Points compared with this? Here he is challenging not just Kuala Lumpur, but standing up to Indonesia as well. As far as I am concerned these are the words and actions of a man doing work at the highest level. I hear his voice in the struggle, and am so glad to hear he’s back in action.
Long Live Borneo!
The article is via FreeMalaysiaToday and its by Luke Rintod :
KOTA KINABALU: A new pan-Borneo grouping called Borneo Dayak Forum or BDF is set to take centrestage on all issues involving the unified native Dayak community in Borneo, the third largest island in the world.
Its inaugural president Jeffrey Kittingan from Sabah said BDF was born out of a realization of the necessity for all the indigenous people of Borneo to reach and relate, share and work together for their common interest.
“This realization started in Sabah a year ago, moved down to Sarawak then finally to Kalimantan Barat.
“It is only the beginning of this formality. Much work has already been done to bring us together as one people…. Next year we have plans to visit the United States and the United Nation to study indigenous communities’ progress,” said Kitingan a Kadazandusun, who is also a PKR vice president.
Launched last Sunday, BDF is believed to be the first pan-Borneo socio-cultural body. It identifies with most of the natives in Borneo, including the Kadazans, Dusuns, and Muruts in Sabah as within the Dayak grouping.
Efforts are being made to register BDF abroad, possibly in Geneva, Switzerland, to secure its role on the global stage and manage it carefully into the future.
“Weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting our Dayak brothers in Pontianak and Sanggau together with Daniel Tajem and others from Sabah and Sarawak to celebrate the Gawai Festival.
“We were received with honour and friendship. We enjoyed their hospitality and discovered that we share many things in common, the friendliness, the ‘tuak’, the singing and dancing…” said Kitingan.
Among those present at the soft-launching on Sunday were senior leaders of Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), led by its president Mengga Mikui and deputy president John Bryan Anthony; chairman of Dewan Adat Dayak Kalimantan Barat, Bapak Thadeus Yus; and president of Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA), Dusit Jaul.
At the function, Kitingan, who is also vice-president of KDCA and heads several civil society bodies like CigMa and Borneo Heritage Foundation (BHF) here, also unveiled for the first time the BDF logo that is a “Bunga Terung Dayak.
BDF senior leaders and delegates also had adopted a Dayak greeting or salaam ‘Adil katalino, basermin ka suruga, basengat kajubata’ which loosely translates as “be fair to all humankind, believe in heavens, God gave us lifeline”. The refrain to the greeting is: “harus, harus, harus,” which means “must, must, it is a must”.
About two-thirds of the roughly 17 million people living in Borneo, are Dayaks of various groups.