Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Forgotten Hill (Part Two)

Kokol Hill covered with thick cloud. Here Chris Lammert is checking the temperature
Paraglider Take Off Base is the highest point at Kokol Hill towering at 920 meters (roughly 2700 feet) above sea level. Paragliders like Chris Lammert will jump from this peak either flying solo or tandem and it takes roughly about 15 to 20 minutes to reach Pulutan or Taman Flamingo six kilometers away.

I love Kokol Hill when the peak is enveloped by cloud. It is so cool. At this time the average temperature is about 24 degrees c but sometime though rarely it can go as low as 18 degrees c. When I was 6 years old, I thought clouds are made up of snow, described in some fairy-tale children's book. I experienced "touching" cloud for the first time at the age of eight when my father took me up to a distant peak call Bukit Alab. But yet Kokol Hill is so close by for such an experience.

Rivers in Kokol Hill

Five minutes drive from the Take Off Base down into the valley, we can see many villages with beautiful rivers by its side. Among the villages are Kampong Natai, Kampong Tombongon, Kampong Poring-Poring and Kampong Bambangan. I notice in every village there are homestays, a village motel some sort. The villagers practice some sort of environmental control when come to harvesting the local river fish. It is call Tagal. They can only harvest the fish once a year and that is where the villagers take the opportunity to congregate and celebrate with feasting and drinking.

The primary forest of Kokol Hill
As I say over and over again, walking into the thick primary forest of Kokol Hill is a wonderful experience. It make our mind so peaceful. Among these wild flora, we can also find human interference in a constructive way; they planted fruit trees like durian, jackfruit and tarap. Tarap are native to Borneo and the Southern Philippines islands of Palawan and Mindanao. Tarap are related to jackfruit and breadfruit which came from the same genus, Artocarpus.

The first English romance-thriller from Borneo

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Sir William Goode

Sir William Goode (left) bidding farewell to the people of North Borneo

"To Uphold the Sarawak Constitution and the Nine Cardinal Principles of the White Raja" was the promise by the Queen of Great Britain to the people of Borneo. I asked Zainnal Ajamain, the author of the book, The Queens Obligation what does the statement really mean and  its significance? Zainnal patiently and carefully explained to me one more time. He told me The Malaysian Agreement 1963 is an International Treaty between Great Britain, Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak, which is not enacted by the Malaysian Parliament. Therefore, if the treaty is breached by one of the parties to the agreement, the Malaysian Constitution or the Malaysian Parliament cannot arbitrate the grieving partners. We have no choice but to refer back to those responsible for the agreement. Since the Malaysian Agreement 1963 was signed in London, therefore Her Majesty the Queen is the rightful Trustee to this agreement. So we go back to her said Zainnal.

Zainnal Ajamain
Zainnal told me there was this British Officer who bent over backward to provide safeguards and caveats to North Borneo and Sarawak, especially North Borneo in the form of Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) and the Malaysian Agreement 1963. He was none other than Sir William Goode.

Sir William Goode is the forgotten hero for the people of Borneo. According to Zainnal, the Malayan representatives who signed and witness the Malaysian Agreement 1963 were not happy with Mr Goode because he was too demanding; in making sure the people of Borneo who was about to be part of Malaysia will not be in a disadvantage position. Among the safeguard for the people of North Borneo that was overlooked is that 40% of the tax revenue collected from North Borneo MUST BE CHANNELED BACK TO HER! Nowadays, the Federal Government collected the taxes, but disburse back to North Borneo (Sabah) annually in a form of Federal Grant; far smaller than the 40% as stipulated in the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode, born in 1907, was a British Colonial Officer who served as Governor and Colonial Secretary to various stations of the British Empire in the East. In fact, he was the last Governor of the Crown Colony of Singapore and the British Protectorate of North Borneo. He joined the Malayan Civil Service in 1931. When Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, Goode became the Japanese prisoner of war and was sent to work at the Burma Railway in Siam (Thailand) from 1943 to 1945. Goode died on 15th September 1986, one day earlier from the day and month of the birth date of Malaysia (16th September).

Also see my blog post The Queens Obligation. To know more about the Malaysian Agreement 1963 as well as the Queen's pledge Zainnal can be contacted at 016-8194556 or his assistant Mike Govind at 010-7661788. His book is sold at RM65.00 per copy. The forward message of this book is written by the honorable Malaysian Foreign Minister Mr Anifah Aman.  

Friday, 16 October 2015


The Island of Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world located in Southeast Asia. In fact it is the largest island in Asia. Three countries owned Borneo; Malaysia (Sarawak and North Borneo), Indonesia (Kalimantan) and the tiny kingdom of Brunei. Seventy percent of the island belongs to Indonesia. Borneo is surrounded by South China Sea in the West, the Sulu Sea in the north, the Celebes Sea in the East and the Java Sea in the south.

The Manau Rattan used to make furniture
The Borneo Jungle
Borneo is unique because it has the oldest rainforest in the world (about 140 million years old!) with 15,000 species of flowering plants, 3000 species of trees, 220 species of mammals and 420 species of birds. It is among the most endemic species of plants and animals in the world. For example, the Proboscis Monkey can only be found in Borneo. Their elephants are so tiny that they are called the Pygmy Elephant; only found in Borneo. But sadly, because of the inability of the governments to take serious action to save these flora and fauna from extensive logging and land clearing, the natural paradise of Borneo will one day be extinct! Every year thousands of acres of land are being burnt to make way for oil palm plantations. Many people of Southeast Asia had to endure the annual haze that enveloped the continents because of open burning and land clearing. By the way, even the surrounding seas are home to the most diverse species of sea creatures! Yet nothing much is done to prevent over-fishing and the menace of fish-bombing activities.

Probably the few big trees left in Borneo

Wild flowers of Mount Kinabalu
Borneo also have interesting history and culture. Probably the first true settlements ( people who stayed and thrived) are those who migrated 3000 years ago (see Tribes of North Borneo). The culture of the Borneo people are quite similar to those from Indo-China. But I cannot help myself wondering why does the early tribes of Borneo do have striking similarity with the natives of tropical South America. The way their men trim their hair, the dress they wore, the used of blowpipes to hunt animals and of course, the tradition of the head-hunting! According to ancient manuscript, traders feared going deep into Borneo but these islands are once an important source of gold, shells, ivories (from hornbills, elephants and rhinos), rattan and of course bird nests. Believe it or not, the Chinese colonists set up a Republic in Southwest Kalimantan when United States got their independence from Britain in 1776 and lasted for 100 years! Only the Dutch was able to defeat them in 1877. The history of Borneo became more colorful when they were colonized by the Dutch and the English in the 1800's. Just imagine the native of Sarawak accepted James Brook to be their White Rajah (King) in 1842. Japan invaded Borneo in 1942 and surrendered it back to the respective government of Netherlands and Great Britain in 1945. Kalimantan is now part of Indonesia, while Sarawak and North Borneo formed Malaysia in 1963, and Brunei got its independence from Britain in 1987.

Tribes (Dayak) of Central Borneo