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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

‘Brits more caring than BN’

They were strict in protecting native rights, according to Ismail Gimbad.

KOTA BELUD: In a remark that is likely to invite police reports from Umno, a veteran politician has praised Sabah’s former British administrators as being more caring than the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, at least in protecting native rights.

“The British took better care of the interest of Sabahans than do our own people,” said former state assemblyman Ismail Gimbad, indicating his agreement with former state secretary Simon Sipaun, who recently earned police reports from Umno for saying that life in Sabah was better before the state became part of Malaysia.

Speaking to FMT, Ismail said the British were strict in ensuring that only Sabah natives were issued with the coveted Sijil Anak Negeri (native certificate), “unlike nowadays”. Critics of the current government have often accused it of freely issuing the certificates to non-natives and even foreigners.

Ismail, a Dusun Muslim, became the state assemblyman for Sorob (now called Kadamaian) in 1967. Now 71, he still loves to mingle with the ordinary folk of this multicultural town. He is a familiar face at almost every “tamu” (weekly market).

He served as state assemblyman until 1976 and was once an assistant minister under the Usno government.

Ismail is among many activists opposed to the government’s plan to build a dam at the densely populated Kampung Tambatuan here.

Under the British, he said, Kota Belud was Sabah’s biggest rice bowl and large parts of its paddy land were watered from the Wokok dam, which still exists.

“If the new dam is extremely necessary, the government should build it at an uninhabited area like at Kopungitan at the foot of Mount Tambuyukon,” he said.

Current Kadamaian assemblyman Herbert Timbon Lagadan has been defending the proposed federal-funded dam in the name of the “greater good” of Kota Belud.

Like the sacked village head of Kampung Tambatuan, Singkui Tinggi, Ismail suspects that Lagadan has a personal interest in the dam. Singkui lost his job after rallying natives against the project. - FMT

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