‘Book deserves recognition, not banned’

Dompok (fourth from left), Donald (third from left), Peter’s widow Datin Nancy, her other son Charles and other invited guests standing in front of the Datuk Peter Mojuntin monument where the memorial was held.

PENAMPANG (June 6): Datuk Donald Mojuntin urged Sabahans to support the petition calling for the lifting of the ban on the book ‘Golden Son of the Kadazan’.

This is because the book was written to give recognition to a leader in Sabah and therefore should be available to all Sabahans, he said.

The book, written by Bernard Sta Maria, is about former Sabah minister Datuk Peter J Mojuntin and was banned on June 22, 1978, under the now abolished Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960.

It was reported that despite the ISA being repealed in 2012, the ban on the book was still maintained as the then government perceived that it was still a threat to national interest and security.

In 2015, then home minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the book was banned because it contained “extreme criticisms of the Federal Government, including claims that the government made hasty decisions in the state”.

In a written reply in Parliament, Ahmad Zahid had said the book was also leaning towards causing friction and conflict among Malaysians, particularly Muslims and Christians.

Donald, the late Peter’s eldest son who was met at a memorial service for the latter held at the Datuk Peter Mojuntin monument here on Tuesday, said the digital version of the book is available online.

“If you have read it, the contents are factual. Maybe at that point in time there were some issues that would make some people uncomfortable but the book illustrates one of our premier leaders from that era so what is the point of banning it?

“We want all Sabahans to have the opportunity to own the book. To me as his son, the book is an inspiration to me to fight for what is good for Sabah and the most important thing is the younger generation will start getting interested in what Sabah is about, learn more about the previous state leaders before and to get some inspiration out of it.

“This book deserves recognition, not to be put under a ban. There are many more books out there that contain controversies but are not banned. We want all libraries to have a copy of this book,” he said when asked to comment about the ongoing petition calling for the ban on the book to be lifted.

The UPKO deputy president added that earlier in the morning after the memorial service at the Double Six monument in Sembulan where the airplane carrying his late father crashed, he took the opportunity to visit the Double Six galleria there.

He however was hurt to note that the book, Golden Son of the Kadazan, was not found there.

“It hurts me, not only as the son of Datuk Peter but as someone from Penampang, Sabah to note that a book that is supposed to be available for the rakyat is not available there.

“Thus, the petition for the lifting of the ban and I hope, even though this is an initiative from Penampang, other districts can support and start their own petition. We cooperate and collect the signatures … the more the better, and we will bring them to the Home Ministry or Federal Cabinet,” said Donald, adding that the petition was also an effort where all Sabahans unite to ensure that the book get the recognition so that it can be shared with the world, not only the state and country.

Former Penampang Member of Parliament and UPKO president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok was also in favour of the ban on the book being lifted.

“I think it is high time that the ban is lifted, I think everyone has seen it … parts of it (have gone) viral. So there really is no reason why it should not be lifted because what is contained in the book are things that are already talked about in social media among others,” he said.

Dompok, who was among those who was at the memorial, believed there is no reason to ban a book on the story of a bygone age when there was no internet or social media.

“Therefore if you ban it (then) no one will read it but now the internet is there and everything is so open so I do not see any reason at all in not wanting to lift the ban and honour the early parliamentarians and leaders of this country,” he said.

When asked about the memorial service on Tuesday, Dompok said that it was a very significant day because Penampang is where the late Datuk Peter started his short career in politics which has brought a lot of significance to the political profile of Sabah.

“It was at a time when Malaysia was at its defining moment, just after the formation of Malaysia of course. Although there are provisions in the Constitutions and the Malaysian Acts and all this, the early years would define how the country would come along and I think he has performed his services and duties very well in trying to put input which carried the sentiments of the majority of people in Penampang on how the nation would look like.

“I think Peter brought up this to the fore in Malaysian politics and Malaysian governance. I think it is very much the opportune moment to honour the great personality in Penampang and Malaysian and Sabah politics,” he said.

To the question on why the memorial was only done at a big scale in Donggongon after 50 years, Dompok opined that the occasion was a moment of recollection for people in Penampang of the sad tragedy that took the lives of the Sabah leaders.

“It is an opportune moment for Penampang to be joining with this recognition of the leaders who were present at the defining years of Malaysia post-independence. What they have done, promoted … that was a time when things looked like they were starting on a right path then the tragedy happened. I do not know how much they would have done to put things right but I thought that was the moment it was starting.

“And Peter was at the thick of it and I feel that he needs recognition in his own area. This is the land he has led post-independence, not for a long political life but certainly he had captured the imagination of the people in Penampang that this is the way politics in Sabah should go,” he said.

When asked if the memorial should be made into an annual event by the local authorities, Dompok said they will have to discuss it.

“They will have to discuss this and see how it is going. We are capturing the sentiment of the moment. The day the crash happened, I was a student in London and in those days, news from home was not as easily accessible like today via the internet or phone call.

“Those days urgent news was relayed through telegrams. I didn’t get that but saw a report in one of the newspapers in London. I was shocked because I missed meeting Datuk Peter when he made a trip to London. Only a few months after they celebrated winning the election they tragically lost their lives. I felt a lot of emotional attachment to the event that was held today,” he said.

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