Sunday, September 26, 2010

What the Father of Sarawak Ibans - "Apai" Jugah said?

Is Malaysia like sugar cane?

It was on the 16th of September, a few weeks ago that the whole of Malaysia recognised for the first time in its history, the formation of Malaysia with a public holiday- after a lapse of 47 years!. Remembering the formation of Malaysia, Datuk James Wong writing in the local daily ( Borneo Post dated 19 Sept'10) mentioned what Jugah said about Malaysia. Jugah a contemporary of Datuk James, cautioned in the Iban language - " Anang Malaysia sebaka tebu, manis di pon, tawar di ujung" which roughly translated means Malaysia should not be like the sugar cane stem, sweet at the head and getting less and less sweet, tasteless and dry towards the end.

Jugah is unmistakenably one of the greatest Ibans in living memory. The picture at the inset shows Jugah at one of the sessions in the Malaysian Parliament sporting his iconic hairstyle. Did the Beatles imitate his hairstyle? Just wondering.

Affectionately called " Apai" which in Iban means 'father', Jugah (1900-1981) was very proud to be an Iban and he did so prominently when in 1959 he wore a traditional head gear and without wearing any shirt to welcome His Highness Prince Philip at the Council Negeri chamber in Kuching. He even spoke in Iban to welcome Prince Philip. He was a man of war as well as a man of peace. It was with Jugah's weight that Tunku Abdul Rahman and the British Crown managed to enrol Iban support for the formation of Malaysia, since the Malays' voice and other minority Muslims were already represented by Tunku himself. It was left to Jugah to persuade his fellow country men who were either too politically illiterate, undecided and some anti-British to accept the notion of Malaysia. Jugah was posthousmously conferred the title "Tun". For later generations of Malaysians he should be remembered as one of the people who affixed their signatures on the agreement ending the Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia.

Presently the Ibans are found throughout the length and breadth of Sarawak but they predominate in the river basins of Rajang, Saribas and Batang Lupar which roughly occupy the central region of Sarawak especially in the undeveloped interior areas.

Above : Datuk James Wong and below is a poem by him about politicians.

A Special Breed

Politics has sometimes been called an occupation of Fools
As the whole aspiration is to be an accepted public fool!
There is very little honour or glory in it
Indeed, when all is said and done, damn little merit
A thousand good one does go with the wind
For one little mistake made or imagined
By a demanding and fickle Public
To whom, politicians must approbation seek.

What then keep politicians to the grinding mill?
Perhaps, a perverse pleasure and the thrill?
Or limelight and the pampering to a conceited ego
That hears drumbeats and sees salutes wherever they go?
Though this figment of imagination exists only in the mind
But 'tis enough grist for politicians of every hue and kind
To go happily marching on to glory or perdition?
Seeking political Valhalla and Vindication?

Or is it because of one's innate goodness and sincerity
To serve one's fellow citizens and community?
Feeling that if one does not help to kick the ball
The world would stop and not spin at all?!
Or is it because of selfishness and greed
To use politics as a speedy steed
In achieving greatness, honour and fame
Adding lustre to a common name?

Tired politcians have often spoke of "retiring"
But in practice is there such an unlikely thing?
Of politicians voluntarily withdrawing from the arena
Of politics and all that they hold dear?
Indeed, even those who "retired" have been known to voice
"I am ready to serve, if there is no other choice
Of suitable candidates to fit the BILL
Discount me not; I am here still"!

( Credits: James Wong Kim Min (1981) A Special Breed, Summer Times Publishing, Singapore.)

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