Hornbill Unleashed

October 25, 2010

Empowering Sarawakians through History, Part 4.

By Bunga Pakma

Thanks for your attention and your intelligent response to my articles. I am most grateful for your drawing me to see many aspects of Sarawak’s history I would have missed, and for letting me see that history from your point of view.

What is Empowerment anyway?

One reader writes to ask me when I am going to share the “empowering aspects”  of this series. She (or he—we’re all pseudonymous here) and others have made me aware that “empower” is a difficult word. I had better explain. (more…)


October 21, 2010

The Malaysia story – truth, history, propaganda

By Joe Fernandez

Malaysia, it is being written, is celebrating its 53rd year of independence since the departure of the British colonialists. This appears to support the unspoken, unwritten, official line that 1957 is the year of independence for the entire country. This version of history can only mean that Malaya underwent a name change in 1963 to emerge as Malaysia. Hence the story of 53 years continues.

The old Federation of Malaya and its Federal Constitution was supposed to become defunct on Sept 16, 1963 when a new federation, Malaysia, with the promise of a new Federal Constitution was to emerge on the same day in an alliance of four territories in equal partnership namely, Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak. Brunei stayed out at the 11th hour and look where it is today compared with its neighbouring two sister states in Borneo. That’s another story.

October 15, 2010

Billions to flow in from Abu Dhabi – Najib and Taib

Billions of ringgit in investments are in the pipeline from Abu Dhabi, and is set to flow into two major projects in Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak, says Prime Minister Najib Razak. The emirate’s investment unit, Mubadala Development Co (Mubadala), is teaming up with the Government-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd to participate in these property and aluminium ventures.

At the signing of the two separate collaboration agreements on Friday, Najib said the first would pave the way for Mudabala’s involvement in the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD) real estate development, which was estimated to cost more than RM26bil. (more…)

October 14, 2010

They’re friends of the Penan

By Sim Kwang Yang

The following is an account written by one of many volunteers working to improve the lot of the Penans. The writer works on his initiative to alleviate the suffering of the Penans in helping to meet their needs for medical care and education.

This week, my column by a guest from this group who consider themselves friends of the Penans.

An early start (more…)

MoCS wants independent probe on Rajang ‘disaster’

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly has been urged to set up a Special Select Committee to conduct a full-scale investigation into the recent ecological disaster on the Rajang River.

Making the call here Wednesday, Movement For Change, Sarawak (MoCS) leader Francis Paul Siah said the committee must be independent and should comprise equal representation from both sides of the political divide.

“It would be meaningless if DAP legislators are left out of the probe team. Both sides must be in the committee,” he said

October 6, 2010

Sarawak in election mood, all eyes on Taib

Talk is rife in Sarawak that the state assembly will be dissolved as early as this month for the state election even though the assembly’s term only expires in July next year.

It intensified after Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud confirmed last Saturday that he was willing to lead the state Barisan Nasional (BN) and government for another term.

Taib, 74, made the announcement to a crowd of over 7,000 people who comprised state Cabinet ministers, BN supporters and members of NGOs upon his return from an overseas trip.

October 5, 2010

Deputy PM says he “will study” sex education in schools

By Rosita Maja

It has been 27 long years now that our country has talking about the social problem of baby dumping.

And now the Education Minister and DPM, Muhyiddin Yassin, has said to Malaysiakini he is willing to study a proposal to introduce sex education into Malaysia’s school curriculum.

After 27 years, the ministry is still studying it? If this were an exam, the ministry would have failed repeatedly and would be repeating classes in middle age.

The problem of baby-dumping is getting increasingly serious and it has to been brought to attention that an average number of eight abandoned babies were found each month this year – a shocking statistic. (more…)

Mastering English: Try capital ‘C’ for confusion

By Mariam Mokhtar

During the CEO Forum organised by the Perdana Leadership Foundation, two men who reached the pinnacle of power at two very different organisations, gave conflicting views about the English language: One was Cabinet minister Idris Jala, the Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu) CEO; the other was AmBank Group chairman, Azman Hashim.

Jala said that mastery of the English language was unnecessary to achieve the Vision 2020 goal of becoming a high-income nation whilst Azman stressed the importance of English proficiency to achieve the same goal. Their views lie at opposite ends of the spectrum. Is it any wonder Malaysians are confused?

October 4, 2010

SPDP may drop Merluan rep for scolding deputy minister

By Joseph Tawie

Speculation is rife here that Wong Judah, a maverick assemblyman for Meluan constituency, may be dropped from the list of candidates of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) following a rebuke from party president William Mawan Ikom.

Last week in Kemalai, Ulu Entabai, Mawan chided Judat in front of his supporters for criticising the MP for Julau Joseph Salang Gandum, who is also the deputy minister of information, communication and culture.

A week earlier, Judat had slammed Salang for shifting an allocation meant for a road project within Meluan to another locality also within the same constituency.

September 29, 2010

A pittance for your rights, please


How would you like RM250 in exchange for the inheritance that has been the source of your livelihood? That is how much the Sarawak state government is offering Iban villagers in rural Sebangan so that timber companies can have free rein of the rainforest.

Sebangan is a small range of rainforest in which there are 16 Iban villages. The Ibans have lived there for generations and depend on the forest for their livelihood.

Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Abdul Mahmud now has his eye on the area, according to Sarawak Report, a website dedicated to exposing alleged corrupt practices by Taib and his family.

August 20, 2010

Norway divests shares in logging giant Samling


By Malaysiakini

Norway’s Ministry of Finance has excluded Malaysian timber multinational Samling Global and two Israeli companies from the portfolio of its Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG).

As of Dec 31, 2009, GPFG held a total of 16,060,000 shares
in Samling Global, which is listed in Hong Kong.

In a statement released yesterday, the ministry said based upon the recommendation of the government’s Council on Ethics, it has decided to exclude Samling and Israeli companies – Africa Israel Investments Ltd and Danya Cebus Ltd – from GPFG’s investment portfolio. (more…)

June 11, 2010

Surviving the funeral

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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By Pak Bui

I attended a funeral of an elderly Chinese lady last month. The ceremony could perhaps be described as Taoist-Buddhist or, more accurately, traditionalist. The lady had died of natural causes, after being well cared for by her enormous family, in her final days.

The funeral arrangements had already been made. The undertakers, operating under the reassuring name of Nirvana, moved in speedily.

A tall, slim, Chinese man arrived just after dusk, and took charge. He wore a neat moustache and a Bluetooth mobile telephone headset adorned with a blinking blue light. He appeared impervious to the remains of the intense heat of the day. He was unflappable in a crisp white shirt, sober necktie, shiny black leather shoes and a matching belt. He carried a serious-looking pen, clipped to his pocket. (more…)

March 27, 2010

Go dark for an hour to-night!

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:22 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

Dear all out there,

Let’s join the whole world and observe the World Earth Hour to-night by switching off all our lights in the house between 8.30 and 9.30 to-day.

The spectre of global warming is now threatening human kind.  We are Anak Sarawak, Bangsa Malaysia, but we are also citizens of the global village.  Pollution and Carbon emission know no national border, so we have to do our bit in our daily life to live a greener existence.  We must learn to reuse, reduce, and recycle.

Unfortunately, environment destruction on a massive scale is occurring in our backyard in the form of indiscriminate logging all over Sarawak.  Forests are heat pumps of the Earth, absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and releasing life-supporting oxygen back to mankind.   (more…)

March 26, 2010

Casting the internet wider in Sarawak

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Pak Bui

Our Hornbill Unleashed communal blog is a year old today, and has seen more than half a million hits. What can we contribute?

The internet has been a revolution in the spread of information. Indeed, the internet has contributed to revolutions in political life too. Two decades of the worldwide web have transformed the way we view politics and society.

A recent example can be found in Iran. After contentious election results were released last June, protestors used the internet to channel information to supporters, telling fellow Iranians where rallies were to be held. Later, images of dissidents being beaten and shot were transmitted to people around the world using Twitter and YouTube. (more…)

March 11, 2010

Heart of the matter, anyone?

By Sim Kwang Yang

Writing is a lonely business. You bang on the computer keyboard and imagine an audience to whom you are trying to communicate your ideas. With my problematic mind, I also ponder, as I write, what communication means.

Writing can also be a painful process, if one is serious about it. There is always that deadline, by which I mean the approaching date when you feel pretty dead if you have not found anything to write about. It is a little like feeling pregnant without a foetus inside.

There is joy sometimes, like beating a deadline. Then, it feels like emptying your bowel after having suffered from chronic constipation for a week. The trouble with that is that the mental constipation would soon start again.

Again, you search desperately for a topic to write about. Such is the untold misery of a writer who has to contribute a column every week. (more…)

March 6, 2010

Must logging companies support rape, lies and bigamy?

By Pak Bui


Logging has brought many changes to the lives of the rural communities in Sarawak. The Sarawak government says these changes constitute development.

The logging companies have introduced dirt tracks, mighty machines and many thousands of Iban, Orang Ulu and Chinese workers into our forests.

They have carried oil slicks and cascades of mud into our rivers. Alcohol and sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV have also followed the influx of these loggers.

The logging companies have ferried in gangsters, and sometimes a police presence, when the natives are restless and blockade the logging roads to protest the loss of their land. (more…)

March 5, 2010

It’s getting hotter

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

haze in kuala lumpur mosque

By and large, Malaysians seem to be pretty inward looking when it comes to their political worldview, due perhaps to their immersion within the sea of their domestic issues of race and religion. Comments and debates on foreign affairs and international relations are few and far between, at least on Malaysiakini.

Finally, Malaysiakini has also opened up a World Section that carries foreign news, but I wonder how many hits those stories will get from readers, compared to stories on BTN or news about political parties.

his particular domain of our national life. We are a small country without the kind of clout to influence major international events, unlike the United States or China. People may feel that whatever happens on the other side of the world, there is very little Malaysia can do about it.  (more…)

February 26, 2010

The oldest profession

By Sim Kwang Yang

The Chinese language Oriental Daily published an interview with a senior lady cop by the name of Noraini recently. I had heard of her reputation on the streets of Kuala Lumpur four years ago. She was known as the incorruptible iron-faced police woman who created havoc for the prostitution rings that used to thrive along the throbbing sin strips of the Golden Triangle.

In the interview, the lady cop recalled one of the most harrowing incidents in her career. She was conducting a raid against vice in a Bukit Bintang Hotel. To escape capture, a Chinese national climbed out of the window from her room on the 7th floor, slipped, and fell to her death below.

Betraying her human face beneath her police persona, this lady cop expressed her sadness. “This girl came to Malaysia from China, just to make some money. She lost her life simply because she did not have her passport with her. She would have gotten away with a small fine. Life can be so cheap.’ (more…)

February 22, 2010

Politics bottom up or top down?

By Sim Kwang Yang @ MalaysiaKini

Internet writers like me have a cushy job. We stare into the blank wall, try to imagine the audience out there in cyberspace, and bang out a string of connected ideas at break-neck speed to beat the deadline.

Writing is a lonely business. Thank God, I do get some feedback from readers sent to my email address every week. Otherwise, I would have stopped writing out of boredom. I try to answer them all.

The messages accumulated over the six or seven years of my service with Malaysiakini amount to a huge pile. Most are friendly, but there are a few that are very critical. Of course, one has learned long ago the art of agreeing to disagree with mutual respect.

Then, there are readers and bloggers who cut and paste my articles all over the Internet. I am not sticky on the issue of intellectual property rights, so that is okay too. Any idea of mine, once it is out there, for better or for worse, is public property.


February 17, 2010

CNY celebration with a vengeance

By Sim Kwang Yang

Finally, the Chinese New Year has arrived.

The children in my neighbourhood are already making set off mini fireworks in the evening. Their shrieks of laughter gladden one’s heart, heralding yet another season of joy and rest.

Fire-crackers and fireworks used to be strictly banned during the New Year for security reasons. The ban was part of the legacy of our past when a State of Emergency was in place. I think those few declarations of State of Emergency ware never revoked, so technically we are still at war with the now non-existent terrorists. In any case, it was believed that the communists in the jungle could make ammunition out of the powder in the fire-crackers, so their importation, sale and distribution have since been strictly controlled.

Nowadays, the ban on fire-crackers and fireworks is still in place, for the purpose of protecting children from injuries caused by wayward explosions of those mini-bombs. I am ambivalent on the issue. I truly miss those early years when you could set off as many fire-crackers as your father could afford to buy. It was the essence of childhood joy.

An hour before 12 o’clock on New Year Eve, you could hear sporadic firing-offs of innumerable fire-crackers and fireworks, shooting into the city skyline all over, building into a deafening crescendo towards the bewitching mid-night hour, lighting up the sky with a kaleidoscopic canopy of shrieking darting dancing lights and sounds. The experience was one of sheer exhilaration. (more…)

February 9, 2010

Much ado about sexuality

By Sim Kwang Yang

According to the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, the people of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so sinful that God had them destroyed en masse. Sodom is the root word for our modern term “sodomy”.

The term has been very much in the headlines in recent weeks, and decent people are aghast at the extent to which Malaysian politics has sunk. In genteel circles, sexual deviation is seldom discussed, let alone done.

By now, we should know that homosexuality must be as old as human civilisation itself. In ancient Greek tales, we have the island of Lesbos, where the ancient Greek poetess Sappho composed her awesome verse. Lesbos is how the term lesbian originated.

Surprisingly, homosexuality was not only tolerated in ancient Greece, it was a kind of vogue among men of fashion and men of letters. If you read Plato’s dialogues, naughty references were constantly made by Socrates about ‘beautiful youths”. In the dialogue Symposium (A Greek term for a drinking party), a male disciple even gave an account of how he tried to seduce Socrates in vain. (more…)

February 8, 2010

Abolish the BTN course!

By Sim Kwang Yang

abdullah ahmad badawi pak lah civil servants forum 280108 crowdFor many years, I have heard from university students and some civil servants whispering their silent tales of horror at the Biro Tatanegara courses that they had attended.

These were mostly non-Malays who were completely unprepared for the very racist assertions of the BTN lecturers.

I was dying to get my hand on some real material proof from these former participants, like pamphlets, tapes or even photos, so I could write about it on Malaysiakini.

But I was told no such materials were ever left behind, and in some cases, they had to swear to an oath of silence.

Then, all of a sudden, it took the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Selangor to open up the whole can of worms that has been festering beneath the surface for decades within the secretive courses conducted by the BTN. (more…)

February 1, 2010

Op-ed pages, fertile ground for social and intellectual progress

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

WHO reads the newspaper columns like mine?

I haven’t the faintest idea really. Writing must be one of the loneliest jobs on earth. You stare at the computer monitor, and try to imagine an audience out there, waiting with bated breath for your entertaining words of wisdom. In actual fact, you never know who reads your stuff!

But the columns are an important part of the op-ed section of any newspapers in any country with a long tradition in journalism. This is one of the few jobs that are not open for application, but is offered only upon invitation by the newspaper editor.

Hard news is the staple fare of the media industry. Everyday, we wake up with a natural hunger for the who, what, where, why, how and when of the latest events that go on around our world. As the principle tool for our mass media of communication, the newspapers satisfy our needs perfectly.


December 30, 2009

S’wak, Sabah – beautiful states wrecked by bad politics

By Sim Kwang Yang


46 years ago on 16 September, Sarawak and Sabah declared themselves a part of the new federation of Malaysia.

I should know; I was a scrappy 15-year-old young lad roaming the streets of Kuching.

Together with a bunch of equally scrappy boys in the neighbourhood, we sauntered down to the fort at the river side opposite the famous clock tower in the town centre on that fateful day near mid-night.

We watched in silence as the Union jack was lowered for the last time, and the new Malaysian flag was raised for the first time.

We walked home through the deserted streets of Kuching, as Stephen Kalong Ningkan, an Iban and the first Chief Minister of Sarawak, spoke about independence on the radio.

Television was still a distant reality then. (more…)

December 11, 2009

Deformed reform by UMNO: JAC and MCAC

By Sim Kwang Yang

A man who has been starving for days would have welcome a small morsel of food flung contemptuously his way I suppose.

In a country where many thoughtful citizens have been dreaming of an independent judiciary and a powerful body to curb endemic corruption, the tabling of the Judicial Appointments Council Bill (JAC) and the Malaysian Commission for Anti-Corruption Bill (Maca) by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a year ago would tend to arouse elation that eventually something good is going to be done.

By right, such important bills should have been published long before they are tabled in Parliament, to invite public discussion from all stakeholders, which in this case, is the entire population of Malaysia. But our patriarchal arrogant BN government would never dream of consulting the rakyat, so that is that.

I do not have a copy of the bills, so I can rely only on the information and views given by experts. One such expert is Param Cumaraswamy, prominent lawyer and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. (more…)

December 8, 2009

The borrowed success of Singapore

Filed under: Alternatives,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Chen Jiaqi

I met up with some old classmates several times since my university graduation, and discovered that over half of my Form V classmates had gone to study, work, or even settle down in Singapore.

I knew many of the top talents from my school ended up in Singapore, but I was not aware that the number could be so big.

Those secondary school classmates of mine were among the most brilliant in school, and Singapore was more than happy to bring these independent Chinese secondary school students there so that they could get the opportunity to advance their ambitions.

Still on my internship at a government hospital here, I had a mixed bag of feelings, and to my own disbelief, I joined their rank several years later.


A comment on racial politics and brain drain

Filed under: Alternatives,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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by Straight Talking

May I too, share my thoughts with you on this issue? A consequence of our brain drain is financial drain.
Next year, 2010, our population is forecasted to reach 29,000,000. Let’s see how this relates to our financial drain. So, let’s start with our population.

Of this 29 million, 63% are between 15 and 64 years of age. The rest are the young and the old.

So, we are looking at maybe 18 million employable Malaysians. If we think of them as our “potential workforce”, then, in general, 15 would be too young, and 64 would be too old. Of course we will have people like Mahathir who will work until 100 or my 56 year old friend who never worked a day in his life.

So, let’s be realistic. Say, we take out those 18 and below as well as those 60 and above. Agreed? Now, let’s assume a percentage, say, 15% of the 18 million is either too young or too old. That gives us a net change of roughly 15 million, slogging it out, eight hours daily.


Penang Chief Minister: Singapore will collapse without Malaysians!

Filed under: Alternatives,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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The Temasek Review

Speaking to reporters last night at a DAP function in Selangor, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said jokingly that all the Malaysian government needs to do to “sabotage” Singapore is to entice the Malaysians working in Singapore back to Malaysia.

Lim lashed out at the Barisan government for not treasuring and utilizing the talents of Malaysians fully, leading to a brain drain, especially to its rival Singapore.

Since Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, it has adopted an open door policy towards Malaysians. Many Malaysian Chinese, who faced discrimination back in their homelands, flocked to Singapore to study and work, eventually taking up Singapore citizenship.


December 1, 2009

Beautiful Sarawak

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

It is a reflection of our East-West chasm that most of my friends living on the peninsular side of Malaysia have never stepped foot in Sarawak or Sabah.

Many West Malaysians have travelled all over the globe, for education, business and pleasure.  Names of glamorous foreign places and cities roll off their tongue with an enviable familiarity.  Ask these sophisticated well-heeled jet-setters whether they have ever been to that part of Malaysia towards the direction of the sunrise, and you will draw a blank.

Now that 2009 is touted as a visit Malaysia Truly Asia year, I want to do my bit for my home state and sell you readers the idea of a visit to Sarawak.  Domestic tourism will save the country valuable foreign exchange and give Sarawak tourism a boost.  But seriously, should you not know something of your own country first, before you trot all over the world for a novel experience?


November 30, 2009

Our Earth is gravely sick!

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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With the climate change international conference in Copenhagen hotting up next month, I decided to dig out an old article of mine published in Malaysiakini on 6th January 2007.

By Sim Kwang Yang

Astro-physicists have told us that our Erath is a middle-aged planet with a limited life span of a few billion years.  Some time into the distant future, the Sun will burn out and probably collapse into a black hole, swallowing all the planets in the Solar System.  All life forms on Earth will have disappeared long before then.

Scientists pioneering in various experiments in long-haul space travel and exploration of new hospitable planets are probably contemplating the indistinct probability of mass migration of the Earth’s population before that final cataclysmic event.

But it would appear that time is not on our side.  Long before the demise of the Sun, the new species of Homo Sapiens on Earth would face the very real possibility of destroying the natural conditions that engender and nurture life in the fist place.


November 25, 2009

Landmines in Sarawak Part 1

By Sim Kwang Yang

sarawak state seat 2006 breakdown 011208

Being severed from the Malayan Peninsula by a vast expanse of water, the political sky over the fair land of Sarawak has very different hues and colours. Sometimes, the political quirks and kinks can seem incomprehensible to politicians and people from outside the state.

Part of the reason for this discrepancy is that the collective imagination of Sarawakians is not shaped by the national media entirely, but also by the local media in Sarawak in all forms, including and especially the radio which is often the only source of information about the outside world in much of the Sarawak rural heartland.

All the newspapers in various languages are pro-BN government of course. They are all owned by companies and business interests that depend on the state government for survival. The BN control over the formation of public opinions is water-tight.

In this way, the Sarawak BN is able to monopolise the content and the style of political discourse throughout the entire state. Alternative or dissident voices can hardly ever find the space to articulate their views. With telephone access limited to the towns and some semi-urban areas, the power of the Internet has yet to establish a foothold.

November 17, 2009

Pray that Umno will not come to Sarawak

By Sim Kwang Yang

Umno road trip to sarawak (Small)Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia where Umno has not established any presence. Within Sarawak itself, the talk is not so much if, but when Umno will make a grand entry, as it did in Sabah.

Now, the conditions seem riper than ever before for Umno’s foray into that vast eastern state on the northern shores of the Borneo Island, as Sarawak is on the verge of plunging into a leadership vacuum.

The Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has been in power for slightly more than a quarter of a century in that resource rich territory. (Pardon me for mentioning him by name. His string of titles is too long to be cited in full for a column of limited length like mine.)

But Taib is in his 70s, and rumours of his ailing health have been rife like wildfire in Kuching. I have heard various versions of his struggle with his cancer problem within some part of his internal anatomy, but like a good Sarawakian, I will not spread the rumour further.

November 9, 2009

An Evening with the Ibans

By Sim Kwang Yang

crocodileThe small band of mud-caked near-naked young boys were tearing through the lalang and the undergrowth from the direction of the river bank, shrieking and laughing as they stumbled over one another towards the foot of the staircase of this lone kampong house.

I was alarmed by their state of unusual excitement, and moved to the doorway to investigate. Gasping for breath, they fought among themselves for the chance to report their discovery, “Uncle, a crocodile! At the river bank!” Arms were flung apart at various lengths to indicate the size of the feared reptile.

This was a matter of grave concern indeed for the Iban communities living along the placid Stutong River meandering around the outskirts of Kuching City. The dozen or so adults sitting in the room behind me immediately exploded into an animated discussion.

The scorching heat of the day had waned, and the stilted wooden hut with its thatched roof was basking in the afterglow of the sun. The evening dusk descended upon the surrounding rubber trees long abandoned to grow wild. Visitors had drifted into the hospitable shade of the little hut in small parties. The visitors were on their way back from their gardens, where they worked the land as their ancestors had done for countless generations, even though they no longer needed to.


November 8, 2009

Thinking about blogging and making hats…..on a lazy Malaysian Sunday.

By Sim Kwang Yang

internetEver since we launched this blog over seven months ago, I had only one promise made to myself: there must be a new posting everyday.

Everyday, as the sun sets, if there is no new story in my email, then I will have to bang out something on the computer. After a while, it gets to be quite tiring, especially when I am almost a full time writer for a few publications as well.

At the end of the evening, my mind would be having mental cramps from overwork.

That is why I began to upload my old stories published in Malaysiakini in the past, for my mental relief, as a kind of stop-gap measure. At first I worried about the copyright issue, since Malaysiakini does pay me for my writing. But everyone else is cutting and pasting my Malaysiakini articles on their blogs anyway, so I might as well join in the crowd.


November 6, 2009

The world of ageing

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

1022_C92ACCORDING to the definition established by the United Nations, an aged person is one who has reached or exceeded 60 years of age. That makes me an aged person. Of course, when you have passed the magic hurdle of 60, you think sometimes of the ‘Grim Reaper’, for there is no way of getting out of this life alive. But according to the national statistics for life expectancy, I should have 16 years more to go, if I am careful.

But life is hard to tell. A friend’s son aged 49 just died from a heart attack three days ago on the badminton court; he was given a clean bill of health 6 months ago by his doctor during a regular medical check up.

So I consider myself blessed, living in relatively good health, except for the mandatory conditions of the aged like diabetes, high blood pressure, and creaking joints.  I still contribute to the national GDP growth by my writing, a task I can do as long as I am sane and have two hands to do the typing on the computer keyboard.

The contribution to the GDP by the aged is an important issue for national economic planner.


September 24, 2009

Penans with cars and big houses?

By Sim Kwang Yang

Dr. James Dawos The Sarawak Environmental advisor Dr. James Davos Mammit has parroted Alfred Jabu’s attack against NGOs, by blaming the Penan problem on the NGO, who he said manipulated them.

James has a PH D I think.  He is also an old schoolmate from St. Joseph’s in Kuching.  I think he was a few years my junior.

But too many years of politics in BN must have dulled his intellect.  His attack against the NGOs is really a bad reflection of the standard of his political narrative.  Surely, he can have something more original to say, like “I feel sorry for the Penans, and will seek way to get to the truth of the rape of Penan girls.”

But then, as the state environmental advisor, James would probably be fired by his boss the termite, if he shows any sign of support for the Penans. (more…)

September 21, 2009

Freedom of expression; a reality in M’sia

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

freedom of expressionIN developing Malaysia, the freedom of speech and assembly has always been a contentious issue.

In our multiracial and multicultural nation burdened with the dark memory of the May 13 incident, the government has always leaned towards curbing that freedom of expression. There are many laws prohibiting the uninterrupted exchange of views in public forum and the media. Of course, there is always the dreaded ISA.

At the other end of the spectrum, civil societies and opposition political leaders have called for an opening of the Malaysian sky, citing the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Broadcasting Act 1988, Official Secrets Act 1972, Sedition Act 1948, and Internal Security Act 1960 as instruments which violate the freedom of speech guaranteed to them under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. (more…)

September 15, 2009

MIC and Samy Vellu: a truly dying breed

20090812180935_samyvelluBy Sim Kwang Yang

I have not been following the MIC party election that closely, because I know the outcome is predictable.

The outcome of the MIC party election is predictable, because, despite their humiliating thrashing in the last general election, this grand old party is still mired in the fossilised outdated and dying mode of strongman politics.

Strongman politics has died out in the old dictatorships in the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere.  It is that brand of politics where the entire political organisation or country is controlled by one domineering charismatic personality.  The retirement of Dr. M marked the end of strongman politics in Malaysia.  Whether it has ended in UMNO or not is yet to be seen. (more…)

August 28, 2009

NGOs demand respect for natives’ rights in stalled “legal timber” agreement

By MC Wong

Vincent PiketAmbassador and head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Malaysia, Vincent Piket, said on August 19, “EU hopes to sign a bilateral Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Malaysia, by year-end, to promote the trade in legally produced and harvested timber.”

Piket first announced, a year ago, that under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) plan, the EU is preparing to sign an agreement with Malaysia which would be ready by the end of 2008.

In January 2009, he told the media that the VPA would be signed in three or four months. Four months later, at the end of April, he said again that the EU and Malaysia were finalising timber trade talks to ensure sustainability and legality of output. (more…)

August 27, 2009

Revisiting George Orwell’s Big Brother in Sarawak

By Apang

georgeorwellDM0309_468x353I first came across George Orwell’s classic novel, “1984”, when I was doing my Higher School Certificate in the late 1980s. My English teacher, Janet (whose full name escapes my diminishing brain cells now), had prescribed this as a book to be read for the entire class.

Each week, the class would have to discuss a chapter. I have to admit that I am still not a great admirer of novels. For me, “1984” was just a book to read to pass my English exam. All I could remember of its content was one phrase – Big Brother, and how this “thing” was watching and controlling all aspects of our lives.

Back then, it was an alienating concept that this “thing” would have such manipulative control over human beings. I was young and naïve then. The “unreal” world of “1984” existed only in my imagination, that we citizens, communities, societies, would be controlled, in our thought, our behaviour, beliefs, and ultimately, our actions. (more…)

August 26, 2009

Dayaks: victims of Sarawak crony capitalism

(The following article is published in the October issue of the Bloomberg markets magazine.  The writer, Yoolim Lee, is a Korean reporter based in Singapore, who came to interview me in KL.  She had just returned from a trip to Sarawak, where she spent some days staying in a Penan settlement)

This article is a labour of love from Lee.  It is a little long, but worth your slow perusal.

I recommend it highly.


Getting Rich in Malaysia Cronyism Capital Means Dayak Lose Home  banner


Time for some secular aggression

By Sim Kwang Yang

Kartika Sari Dewi SukarnoThe caning of former model Kartika Sari Dewi Sukarno has been postponed till the Ramadan month is over.  She has been sent back home for another month of emotional anguish.

The news has since become the fifth most popular story on both the CNN and BBC websites.  There was even a Facebook account listed as “Help Kartika Sari Dewi Sukarno”.

I feel boiling mad with her sentence, because the caning punishment is barbaric and out-dated for any crime.  It should have been outlawed long ago.  It does not serve as a deterrent, and neither should it serve as punitive punishment.  It belongs to the Dark Ages.

I was thinking of writing about religious overzealousness, at the risk of offending some religious sensitivities, when I came across the article entitled “Time for secular aggression” by Wole Soyinka. (more…)

August 25, 2009

“We are all immigrants” — says a thoughtful Malay citizen

”  I received in my email the following English translation of an article by Syed Imran entitled “Antara Pendatang dan Penumpang” in the original Bahasa Malaysia version.  I know it has been doing the rounds on the Internet for some time.  But it is still worthy of reproduction on our blog, so that faithful HU readers will have a chance to see an alternative view to the whole emotive debate on race.  ——  SKY  “

All immigrants

racism“Syed Imran, an Arab-Malaysian born in Penang, Malaysia, an ex-Bernama journalist (1971-1998) and former press secretary to the Minister in PM’s Department, posted a great blog days ago, which was translated into English.”

To begin with, I was quite reluctant to comment on the mess created by the statement made by Ahmad bin Ismail, the head of the Bukit Bendera, Pulau Pinang UMNO Division.. Whether he made the statement in reference to Chinese Malaysians is no longer the question, as the issue has spread and has been hotly debated. (more…)

August 21, 2009

Nazri proud of “e-court”, but not Sarawak BN MPs

By Apang

Mohamed Nazri Abdul AzizThe de facto law minister from UMNO was in Kuching last week. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, was given widespread coverage by the local papers, on several issues.

Nazri’s trip was full of praise for Sarawak indeed. The Sarawak BN must be delighted that the Umno minister was praising the state so effusively. The Sarawak BN leaders’ faces were splashed all over the local papers, beaming because of Nazri’s compliments.

Nazri’s e-nthusiasm for technology


August 18, 2009

Bakun burning: Does anybody care about Bakun any more?

pro-bakun1” I got this press release from Sarawak Conservation Action network in my email.  I was told that very few people care about the whole Bakun issue nowadays.  That is sad to hear.  I still care though about what is going on there and how those settlers are doing.

This press release is unlikely to be carried by any newspapers, so I thought we should give the platform to be heard on Hornbill Unleashed.



National Secretariat Office
Lot 1046, Shang Garden Shoplot
Jalan Bulan Sabit, Miri
Sarawak, Malaysia.
Tel: +6 085 423044  Fax: +6 085 438580


August 16, 2009

Trying something different…….on a lazy Malaysian Sunday

By  Sim Kwang Yang

ZAINAL ABIDINA HU member suggested that we should try posting some Chinese articles for those readers who are educated in Chinese.  I thought we should give it a try, since there are so few social and political blogs in Chinese in Malaysia.  So this Sunday, we offer an article written by Liew Ming Sing, a columnist for the Nanyang Siang Pao, a commentary on the Singer Zainal Abidin and the Malaysian green party.

For those of you English readers, just skip the Chinese article and shoot to the article “Chinese Houses Have No Windows” by author unknown.  The piece was emailed to me by a friend, and I think the personal reflection on the paranoia the Chinese have for politics is worth a read by everyone.   (more…)

August 11, 2009

Mother Nature, Human Nature and Politics

itun-semban010509By Apang

Mother Nature is terrible, merciless, cruel and yet is, of course, natural. In our current Sarawak context, the dry spell is drying up our taps. Mother Nature is blamed yet again.

When our “god-given” rights to live are interrupted, Mother Nature cops it. So it is rather consistent that the “almighty” human blames others, almost always, for anything and everything. It is even easier when the “others” are like Mother Nature, when there is no possibility of the “others” responding to the blame and accusations.

So as Sarawak is suddenly in “crisis” mode again during this dry season, El Nino is blamed, again. Google this term and you will find out that this is a “natural” phenomenon. That elite group called “scientists” tells us so. (more…)

August 8, 2009

The toxic natural and political haze in Malaysia

By Bunga Pakma

kuching_hazeThe dreaded Haze is back, and back bad.  The smoke, the August heat, the chill of air-conditioning, and the fatigue of rushing here and there have weakened my defenses and I have picked up a cold from someone among the teaming masses of the Klang Valley.

To date 15 people have died from the H1N1 virus.  I wonder how many the Haze will kill?  Others than I are coughing, and people with asthma or heart disease must be anxious.

The Haze saddens me.  Almost twenty years I have seen it come each musim kemarau.  Today outside my window the smoke is nearly as heavy as it was in the awful days of August 1997.  That month Haze covered the whole of Malaysia and obliterated sky and horizon.  The mountain three miles away vanished, the trees at the bottom of the yard dissolved into vague shapes.  The sun rose deep red, and so feeble that my son detected—with his naked eyes—a sunspot on its surface. We stayed indoors, and bugs of all kinds too moved in, looking for refuge and dying in heaps.  In the air I saw a flying-fox in daytime, escaping north. (more…)

July 6, 2009

A struggling self – Sharing and Reflecting on a “lost” journey

By Apang


I have been absent from HU for a while, not to my own liking though. It is a constant struggle to pinpoint what to write, to share, to provoke or just to give meaning to my thought. Unlike SKY, Pak Bui and Bunga Pakma, who all write fluently and comparatively easily, l struggle to put my thoughts, my concerns, my state of confusion into words, and to express them in a language in which my ability is neither here nor there.

There has been some discussion in HU about this blog being pro-PKR etc. That kind of limiting thought is reflective of Malaysia, truly Malaysia (not Asia) indeed. Writing about Malaysian party politics is also so dry, so backward and so typical of Malaysia and the Malaysian media. Except for the intelligence found in a few online news portal and blogs, Malaysian writings on politics are just so dry, devoid of substance.

But as SKY says repeatedly, party politics are but a necessary evil. In our supposed democracy, the might of governments are unleashed after each election. The BN continues to use elections and election results as legitimacy to do, and not do, what thinking Malaysians already know too well. The BN does not know that one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that even Hitler also had held elections to legitimise his rule of terror, not just against Germans, but against the whole world. (more…)

June 8, 2009

Life and Time of a Penan Selungo between two “worlds”

By Apang  @ Hueditor

Penan Selungo and their World

squat 9Anthony is just such a humble and quiet person whose shy nature would not stand out in a crowd. He has no reason to want to stand out in the first place. He is a Penan from Ulu Baram, Sarawak, a home to him but a wild jungle to most of us. While his identity card lists him as being born in the year 1965, but that is just a year created when applying for his identity card. Anthony, like so many of his fellow Penan Selungo (there are also Penan from Lapok and Silak in the Baram, and also Penan from the Belaga District and their languages all differ from one another) had existed long before there was any need to have a paper as identity.

So, the calendar was an alien concept to the very people who live for generations with their natural environment. Unlike other Dayak people who are subsistence farmers that use crop-farming cycle as concept in time, the Penan would be using fruiting season in dating their time. (more…)

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