Hornbill Unleashed

August 21, 2013

Why invite Taib to open St Joseph’s new building?

Francis Paul Siah

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has been invited to officially open the new building of St Joseph’s Private School in Kuching this Saturday.

Whose idea was it to grant such an honour to a heavily tainted politician and Sarawak’s most loathed man at this private Catholic event, a former classmate asked me in an email recently.

The immediate reaction that crossed my mind at that time was why the need to invite the chief minister at all when this was a private project that has nothing to do with the government?

And yes, I also posed then as to whose grand idea it was to suggest inviting Taib in the first place and who was ultimately responsible for approving the invitation?

Soon, several of my Catholic ex-classmates of St Joseph’s School were engaged in a heated email forum on the subject.

The main poser was the same – why was Taib given this privilege when the new Catholic project has nothing to do with him or the state government at all?

All of them vehemently disagreed with the invite to Taib. There was a general consensus that with the odds heavily stacked against the chief minister, principally for his well-publicised corrupt practices and abuse of power, he was the most unsuitable guest-of-honour at this Catholic event.

The St Joseph’s Private School was initiated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kuching. It is strongly supported and close to the hearts of the Catholic community in Sarawak, particularly in the state capital.

It was a labour of love of the Catholic fraternity and the school is primarily funded with their sweat and tears.

The congregation responded generously to the church’s appeals for financial aid to put up a new building to house the school. Our little group also chipped in.

We acknowledge that this was a genuine and worthy cause and that our Catholic children and others keen to study in the school should receive an education with sound moral values.

Our group asked many questions in our email forum. However, as the discussion was a private affair among friends, it would be wrong of me to quote them.

Some quotes

However, I will reveal my participation in the discussion. These are some of the statements I’ve made.

“The situation is frustrating because our church authorities, and now our Catholic school authorities, have not been able to handle church-state affairs prudently or conscientiously nor respond effectively on matters of a political nature.

“For heaven’s sake, this is a private school and hence, a private project. It has nothing to do with the government, so why the need to invite the CM.

“I think the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Marino, is the most suitable guest-of-honour at a function like this or Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung.

“So what if Taib also donated to the project? It’s probably ill gotten gains from the state anyway.

“I wonder whose bright idea it was to get the CM to perform at the opening ceremony. I can only guess. The same old Catholic loyalists of Taib are around. (Three names of prominent people mentioned.) I’m sorry to say that there are also Catholics who are linked to the CM and had been amply rewarded for their undivided loyalty.”

I must also respectfully inform Kuching Archbishop John Ha here that many Catholics in Kuching, particularly parishioners of St Joseph’s Parish, are very unhappy with the decision to have a morally tainted personality to officially launch such an important Catholic function.

As a parishioner of St Joseph’s myself, I also feel duty bound to inform my archbishop that a large cross-section of the Catholic community are also holding His Grace responsible for the fiasco of inviting a most dishonourable chief minister as the guest-of-honour of a very honourable and joyous Catholic event.

Although I can guess that it was not Archbishop John Ha’s idea nor decision, he has to shoulder the blame as he is the head of the Archdiocese of Kuching.

It’s a grave mistake to have the CM involved in the opening of the school’s new building. This is a religious event, not a political one and there is no need to entangle politicians in it.

The Kuching Archbishop is a very holy man and a learned theologian but has almost zero political acumen. He is poles apart from Bishop Paul Tan of the Johor-Malacca Diocese in terms of public astuteness and political consciousness.

I am worried that our good archbishop could have been ill advised by some lay Catholics on matters of public affairs.

On a personal note, I must also mention that my late father (Andrew Siah) would have been most unhappy too if he was still around to learn of this controversy.

St Joseph’s set up in 1965

He was the principal of the first St Joseph’s Private School set up in 1965 in Kuching. Then, the school was meant to enable students who failed the Primary Six (Common Entrance) exams to continue to Form 1 and beyond.

In 1969, my dad and several of his colleagues were tasked by the La Salle Brothers and the Catholic Mission to establish St Patrick’s School which also offered Form 4 to Form 6 classes. He was the first principal of St Patrick’s.

My father spent his entire teaching career in the pursuit of Catholic education which sees all knowledge as sacred when human insight is combined with divine revelation in the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty.

He would be sad to learn that the new St Joseph’s Private School which shares the same goals as the first one he helmed in 1965 for the Catholic Church should be dirtied with the presence of greed, corruption, power abuse and everything evil on its opening day.

As the opening date of the school nears, I asked a Kuching friend for an update on the matter and this was his text message to me last night.

“Many have declined to attend event on Aug 24. Church people think Papal Nuncio should be given the honour, not a political figure. People running the show seem servile. They lack spirit and character. Sad.”

Like all La Sallean schools throughout the country, former students of St Joseph’s in Kuching are very proud of their alma mater.

Unfortunately for me, with a former Josephian like Taib Mahmud still hanging around and continuing to bring shame, dishonour and disrepute to the school, people and state, who’s proud to be a Josephian?

Not me, certainly.

17 Comments »

  1. apa sahaja yang kita fikirkan dan buat..always remember FATHER, SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT..Amen..biarla dia datang, ST JO MASIH GEREJA KITA!!!! SAYA DIBAPTISTKAN DI ST JO..BIAR DIA DATANG..KENAPA TAKUT? DIA DATANG, ST JO AKAN JADI MASJID? AKU SAYANG AGAMA AKU..

    Comment by baak pangak — August 26, 2013 @ 9:29 PM | Reply

  2. Here is the list of land grab or data and crooks who are associated with the thief minister. http://map.sarawakreport.org/data.html

    Comment by Special Branch — August 22, 2013 @ 6:44 PM | Reply

  3. It was been rumoured that Taib is both Muslim and Christian. Thats not acceptable to ordinary Malaysians peace loving and respectful of others religions. Especially Brahim Ali and Hassan Ali.

    When the late Ahmad Deedat wanted to come in and give a talk to Sarawak Taib refused. Ahmad Deedat had given a talk at Padang Merdeka or so its heard. Just one.

    Anyway, Taib was annoyed because it would have given him away…he’s a follower of St Paul. Taib can be anything. Didn’t he screw everyone of us? 🙄

    Comment by pantheist — August 22, 2013 @ 3:40 PM | Reply

    • I overheard someone saying ” money is greater than God “.

      Comment by kocokoco — August 23, 2013 @ 3:05 PM | Reply

  4. Those behind the invitation would be less hypocritical to invite a real crook than to invite a crook in sheep’s skin. Religious and God-fearing souls are not only expected to set standards of morality in what they do but also in what they believe in. Inviting a man so utterly devoid of conscience and morality to such an auspicious occasion, however high a position he holds, is a disservice and will forever haunt the Catholic school with hypocrisy.

    Comment by Joseph — August 22, 2013 @ 1:24 AM | Reply

    • Well, there’s JAKIM for all the religions under the sun in Malaysia!

      Comment by joking — August 22, 2013 @ 3:13 PM | Reply

  5. Too bad, I just have to piss on his name plate at St. Joseph then.

    Comment by The Plan — August 21, 2013 @ 6:11 PM | Reply

  6. Normally the CM will be accompanied by his luscious first lady. The organizers are also interested to see the Lebanese wife of Pehin. People are not interested to see the old septuagenarian himself, but he is voluminously proud of a sexy wife as his side.

    Comment by i knowit all — August 21, 2013 @ 3:18 PM | Reply

    • How can you be “voluminously” proud? Pride has no volume.

      Maybe when pride swells up you dada … can lah! 😆

      Comment by dido — August 22, 2013 @ 3:16 PM | Reply

  7. A Archbishop John Ha should not accept any earthly glorification such as the award of Datukship. He should not be subservient to any government of the day and more so to a thief minister who is notorious for being the most corrupted minister in the world. Perhaps, the Bishop was wrongly advised by a corrupted former state AG who is also a special legal adviser to the thief minister and a close condidante of the Archbishop. All catholics should stay away from the opening ceremony if the thief minister Taib Mahmud should grace the opening. The Church and St Joseph Private School do not need his dirty money too and be associated with his tainted name.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — August 21, 2013 @ 1:28 PM | Reply

    • The catholic church condone corruption and its archbishop is subservient to the corrupted regime.

      Comment by Judas — August 22, 2013 @ 10:30 PM | Reply

    • Please do not blame John Ha, his predecessor Peter Chung is also a Datuk Seri, Murphy Xavier Pakiam, KL Archbishop is also a Tan Sri. Another priest, Lawrence Chua is a Datuk, Taib’s former and the first local priest. The church is expanding rapidly and it require additional fund and land. With Taib as the Resource Planning minister, a close association with him is a must.

      Comment by i knowit all — August 23, 2013 @ 8:31 AM | Reply

  8. Nobody came to open the school in my longhouse.

    Comment by kocokoco — August 21, 2013 @ 12:13 PM | Reply

    • Taib is a gentle politician. He will not open your longhouse leaving it roofless and wall less!

      He has a magnificent touch. He will send the the Balui, Bakun and Boomboom down the Rejang and sweep away everything on 2 legs!

      That’s how magnificent Taib is!

      Comment by kongkam — August 22, 2013 @ 3:23 PM | Reply

  9. Dear Mr Francis,

    Thank you for writing this. While I share your concerns on our Chief Minister’s reputation overshadowing this celebratory event for our school, I respectfully disagree on it being a grave mistake.

    Pehin Sri is still our Chief Minister, and he is invited in that capacity, a representative of our state government. The Chief Minister’s office is the one accorded this honour. It is unfortunate that we might both disagree with the person currently holding office, but he is still holding office, and in my opinion should be welcomed for these type of functions. The fact that he is also an old boy, and that he was also amongst the benefactors, is a bonus.

    And to be fair, even private schools, no matter how they are funded, fall under the purview and oversight of the (Federal) Ministry of Education. Even private projects such as these have governmental links in one form or another. Therefore it would not be unreasonable to have government involvement at these functions.

    My pride on being a Josephian comes from having been educated at the school, having grown up with amazing friends and having had the best teachers. Whatever another Josephian does that causes shame, dishonour and disrepute, he brings only upon himself.

    I am still a proud Josephian. I hope you are too.

    Comment by hazwan razak — August 21, 2013 @ 11:21 AM | Reply

  10. I agree that this is a private function and excluding the CM makes full sense. But to brand him as being corrupted and full of scandals as the reason to exclude him may not be convincing. Not forgetting too Roman Catholic Church is lately being loaded with corruption, abuse cases and scandals, many cases are being skirting around, covered up or denied by the Vatican. Will you also avoid inviting the head of local churches just because RC is not without its controversial and instead invite someone who is an atheist happen to be clean and free of scandal to officiate the opening ceremony?

    Comment by Gus Lambert — August 21, 2013 @ 9:23 AM | Reply

  11. As usual, the school also need additional fund. Pehin is quite charitable and exceedingly rich, a whisper into his ear will fatten the school’s account.

    Comment by robinhood — August 21, 2013 @ 6:39 AM | Reply


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