Hornbill Unleashed

June 22, 2017

Remembering Sim Kwang Yang – THE HORNBILL HAS TAKEN TO THE SKY

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:03 AM

Remembering Sim Kwang Yang, a rare Malaysian thinker politician who died 27 Nov 2014…


Many Malaysians think that hornbills are only found in Sarawak. Only a few weeks ago, as I floated in Tasek Kenyir, I watched in awe as hornbill after hornbill flew home to roost at dusk. In fact, I first sighted a hornbill one morning when I was a kid during the fifties on our mangosteen tree in Batu Pahat, Johor. It was a thrilling sighting and I still experience the same thrill every time I sight a hornbill in the wild with its majestic beak and spectacular colours…

Sim Kwang Yang certainly embodied the wild majesty of the hornbill. He represented Bandar Kuching for three terms at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, speaking up not only for his peoples and forests in Sarawak but also about injustice and the environment everywhere in the world.

He founded the blog ‘Hornbill Unleashed’ to highlight the socio-economic and political issues in his beloved homeland, Sarawak – the land of the hornbills. SKY was an extra-ordinary politician. He certainly did not fit into the mould of the standard Malaysian politician – he was a humanist who was naturally connected to his native peoples; he spoke their Iban language and lived among them. When he hosted us in a long house during the early nineties I could see that he was completely at home with his people in that rustic environment.

I first had contact with SKY when he wrote to me while I was detained without trial at Kamunting detention camp in 1988. From his letter, I became aware of his warmth and sincerity as a fighter for freedom and justice and a genuine human rights activist. Later, when we became comrades in the DAP, I felt an affinity with SKY’s adherence to his principles and his deep commitment to intellectual integrity. He would not put up with any birdshit from anyone, not even the leaders of the party, and it was a breath of fresh air to hear him speak. His raucous voice was as resonant as the hornbill’s call…

His first love was philosophy – he majored in philosophy at university in Canada. Any conversation with SKY would invariably be peppered with philosophical references, both Western and Eastern sources. He was as fluid at talking about Socrates and his theory of justice as he was about Zen philosophy. There was never a dull moment, as SKY never failed to bring these ruminations down to earth to reflect on current affairs and to colour them with his irreverent language.

When I was the principal of New Era College at Kajang, we started an elective in Philosophy in which he was the resident lecturer. He also started philosophy as a further education course all on his own, which attracted quite a luminous following and generated keen debate amongst his students in a world dominated by pragmatic thinking and business outcomes. His philosophical bent added a reflective ingredient to his thinking which made a difference to the ritualistic knee-jerk responses too common among Malaysian politicians.

SKY was a talented linguist. Besides his regular contributions to the English-language press in the mainland and Sarawak, his grasp of the Chinese language was masterly and he was a regular columnist in the mainstream Chinese-language press as well. We shared an affinity in being Teochew and we enjoyed some banter in Teochew whenever we met.

For certain, as the MP for Bandar Kuching, Sim Kwang Yang has brought the plight of the Sarawak indigenous peoples and the extinction of the Sarawak forests to our attention. He has never failed to point to the root cause of this tragedy, namely, the corruption and monopoly of political power by the ruling elite of Sarawak and their close links with the ruling elite in the peninsula. He has fired the imagination of many young Malaysians through his lucid enquiring mind, his romantic ideals, his delightful language, his political activism and his passionate pursuit of the truth, freedom and democracy.

Farewell Kwang Yang, it’s been wonderful to know you, thanks for unleashing the hornbill and rest assured you will find peace in that place in the SKY…
“Sarawak, you splendid shield
Hung askew on the equator
What poems will you carve
On this shield, my braves?
Let your poetry resound in the SKY
With the roar of the mighty Rajang
In tender, loving tongues
From seas, plains and mountains
Etching the story of struggles in a new age… “(Adapted from Wu An)

Source : https://www.facebook.com/kiasoong.kua/posts/912101532223092 by Kua Kia Soong



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