BREAKING NEWS! . . . Memoirs by Malaysian politicians no True Confessions . . .

Perfection in writing for perfection in law . . .

Memoirs by Malaysian politicians no True Confessions . . .

Memoirs based on selective amnesia raise more questions than are answered!

Commentary and Analysis . . . History probably may not judge almost all of the spate of local Memoirs kindly. These Memoirs by politicians all have common themes marked by selective amnesia.

Lee Lam Thye for example, according to a former Sabah state secretary, allegedly works very little but floods the media with press statements designed to help build up public perceptions on the political personality cult revolving around him. There’s no counter narrative on Lee Lam Thye in the media to demolish the myth of a male version of Mother Teresa.
If push comes to shove, the Sabahan senior civil servant may make good material witness and character witness on Lee Lam Thye. See here . . .

and here . . .

and here . . .

The common themes in the Memoirs arise from starting stories in the middle, looking at only part of a story which suits the convenience of the writer, avoiding true confessions or self-incriminations, and leaving probably nothing but an empty torrent of words and/or diarrhoea of words for posterity.

Form of literature . . .

The Memoirs may be a perverse form of literature, viz. on characters and moral values, which have to be read between the lines. There are many other stories making the rounds on the writers. It’s inherent in our nature, more true in the East, to belabour in delusions, indulge in flights of fancy, work the imagination overtime, take liberties with the truth and deny the personal Truth although — in a contradiction in terms — we may seek the Truth in spiritual ways.

Life isn’t black and white. It comes in various shades of grey. There are exceptions, qualifiers, caveats, ifs and buts. One size does not fit all. Knowledge, like money, is intrinsically worthless. It’s skills that matter. If one wants to lie, then be good at it. Otherwise, it’s counterproductive.

The bookshops tell us that local Memoirs don’t do well even when cover prices are slashed for recovering printing costs. Even Memoirs by Mahathir Mohamad and Lee Kuan Yew are gathering dust in the storerooms. Former journalists have stopped working on documentation. The books don’t sell and reality quickly sinks in. The failure to tell the truth comes at a very high cost.

Best seller . . .

Wannabe politician and former Attorney General Tommy Thomas’, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, may be an exception, considering that the book hit the best seller list within days.

The book’s worth may lie in the criticism of the Attorney General’s Chambers, the legal fraternity, the court, judiciary, government, politicians and all and sundry.

I stand corrected but not on Syrian Christian.

The Thomas recall on the history of Christianity and Hinduism in Kerala, southwest India, being full of holes, may have been taken from erroneous Hindu sources. Thomas should have taken Hindu sources with more than a pinch of salt. The jury may no longer be out on whether Hindu are the most notorious liars, frauds and criminals in history. It does not help when they created the evil caste system which prohibits upward social mobility, based on distortion of Karma, and politically incorrect views, viz. past lives, Karma from past lives, reincarnation and rebirth; and discrimination and violation of human rights. See here . . .

and here . . .

First religion . . .

In Church tradition, Christianity brought by Aramaic and Hebrew speakers from Syria and Jerusalem was the first religion in Kerala. Hinduism came much later after Buddhism. In fact, the people in south India were converts to Hinduism which came from the north. Hindu claim that Christian in Kerala are converts from Hinduism. The Church begs to differ. It’s true that Roman Catholics are converts but from Syrian Christianity following Portuguese occupation for a time. Anyway, let’s not go there.

Hinduism isn’t religion but a collection of local practices which vary from place to place in India. Sivalingga worship in the south was merged with Hinduism from the north, i.e. Brahma Worship and Vishnu Worship, and the Trinity (Teen Murthi) was completed. There’s no God in Hinduism but only people who have moved on and were regarded as Gods and Goddesses. Christian in India should ask Hindu temples to host statues of Jesus and Mary. Hindu feel there’s a great spirit, paramatma, which permeates everything. Jesus mentioned the Holy Spirit in us.

Mustapha Harun . . .

An aborted biography on Mustapha Harun may help keep the culture of Memoirs in perspective. See here . . .

After I was commissioned by Mustapha to write his biography, I resolved against writing the Memoirs of any politician. Mustapha related so many stories full of holes during the brief 21 days that I spent interviewing him over three months. It made the head spin because there were too many gaps to plug. Writers in the West usually get access to intelligence files and declassified documents. I abandoned the exercise in futility. Eddie Sequerah, my colleague at AsiaWeek, prophesied that I would regret not writing Mustapha’s Memoirs. He arranged the commission in return for being mentioned on the book cover as co-writer.

The commission letter on the Mustapha biography read, “by Joe Fernandez and Eddie Sequerah”. Then, the letter read, “by Eddie Sequerah and Joe Fernandez”. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Another AsiaWeek writer . . .

Sequerah contacted MGG Pillai, another AsiaWeek colleague, to write the book. Pillai agreed to write the book provided Sequerah or someone else did all the interviews and research. The latter mentioned my interviews. Pillai wanted the notes on them.

Sequerah came back. He demanded that I hand over all the notes on the interviews with Mustapha. I asked him about the rumours in town that he had secured another letter from Mustapha, mentioning my name, and collected RM450K from Jeffrey Kitingan to sponsor the book. He denied it angrily. He wanted a meeting with Jeffrey on the matter. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

In an about turn, he offered to pay me RM50K in ten installments, each time RM5K, after I fax him some chapters of the book. I advised him to keep the RM50K and write the book.

Sequerah sent a thug after me to collect the notes of my interviews with Mustapha. I told the thug the whole story on the Mustapha book. He never came back.

Sequerah has moved on. It’s said that we should not talk ill of the dead. We are not talking ill of him. The story must be set straight as a matter of public record although, it’s said, that there are no secrets in Sabah. The last time I saw Sequerah was after Mustapha passed away in 1995 after suffering an asthma attack. He was on an escalator at a shopping complex in Kota Kinabalu. He turned around suddenly, smiled from the distance and waved.

To this day, I have yet to ask Jeffrey about the RM450K. No one in Sabah can whisper that I took the RM450K and didn’t write the book. It defies logic although dead men tell no tales.

Longterm memories . . .

Much water has passed under the bridge. I have no regrets on not writing Mustapha’s Memoirs. He never kept notes and diaries. Otherwise, he would have handed them over. His memory was faulty and he may have resorted literally, or inadvertently, to making things up. Some of the things that he said, based on longterm memories, may be more accurate unless he took liberties with the truth.

He denied the contents of a letter which Peter Mojuntin wrote to Tun Abdul Razak. The letter is in “The Golden Son of the Kadazan” by Bernard Sta Maria. The book stays banned in print probably because of the letter. It was a litany of complaints on forced conversions, especially in the Ranau area, and how Mustapha dealt with foreign priests in Sabah, among other issues.

Based on personal testimonies, these forced conversions have come back to haunt Sabah. Many “new” Muslim have reportedly gone back to their old ways but the religion in the MyKad hasn’t been corrected. They pour out their woes in the social media. It appears that Sabah has an extraordinarily high number of apostates. See here . . .

Buddhist . . .

We have a story on these “new” Muslim. The Buddhist husband of a “new” Muslim Orang Asal lady from Ranau, who prefers to use her “Christian” name in social media, is in court. They want the son to get a birth certificate which does not mention religion. The lady approached me when their lawyer, after taking fees, sat on the case. I called up the lawyer and things began moving in court after that. The case will probably peter out if the High Court points in the direction of the syariah court. The High Court should never mention syariah. It’s not law.

There’s lacuna (gap) in local law on syariah. We have Advisory Opinion, based on case law, from the Supreme Court of India.

The Indian Apex court, in rejecting a Petition to ban syariah, declared that syariah wasn’t law but based on a person’s willingness to accept it. However, cautioned the court, it would be unconstitutional to impose syariah on anyone.

In jurisprudence and constitutional law, law must have source to have jurisdiction, authority and power. Syariah does not have source. In jurisprudence, God is not a source in law.

If syariah, like Adat and the Ten Commandments, was based on customary practices, it would have force of law. Syariah, however, claims Divine origin. The Ten Commandments existed in oral tradition before Moses came down from the mountain with two stone tablets enscribed with them.

Divine origin laws . . .

The only Divine origin laws that exist are eternal laws based on eternal truth. All the laws of science, for example, are eternal laws based on eternal truth.

Other eternal laws, being “spiritual” in nature, are subtle and revolve around mostly what Jesus explained about eternal truth. He said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.

“The truth, once it emerges, cannot be hidden. It will be shouted from the rooftops.”

The truth, based on the personal experience of those spiritually inclined, has a lifeforce of its own once it emerges. It must come into fruition i.e. materialise and manifest.

This can be seen in Karma, the law of cause and effect, and the 1st eternal law based on eternal truth.

Karma does not exist unless we create it. It has been observed that what others do to us is their Karma. How we react is our Karma. The Karmic forces exhaust themselves sooner or later when there’s realisation on the spiritual nature of truth. The war in Ukraine, for example, will not last forever. It’s an eternal truth, in the Book of Genesis, that if anything has a beginning, it will have an end.

Mustapha’s legacy . . .

In the wake of Mustapha’s legacy, there are many cases on religion in the High Court of Borneo. In law, the High Court has no jurisdiction if Applicants say that they want Islam to be dropped from the MyKad and substituted with another religion. The court cannot get into theology. It’s only about law.

The High Court can consider an Application involving religion if the Applicant first fills a correction form at the National Registration Dept (NRD). The form must request that details on religion be left blank.

If the NRD denies the correction form, the Applicant can Apply for Leave for Judicial Review and file, at the same time, the Application for Judicial Review on the matter. In law, the High Court can order the NRD to remove religion from the MyKad.

Before Malaysia, there were no inter-faith conversions in Sabah upon marriage.

Illegal immigrants . . .

Conversions aside, Mustapha denied that he was the main person behind the influx of illegal immigrants in Sabah. He claimed that as Chief Minister before 1976, he only allowed 1, 200 Sulu refugees from the Philippines to enter Sabah. He lamented that a letter on this authorisation was used repeatedly, 1, 200 people at a time, to allow thousands to enter the Territory and secure the IMM13 pass which ensures legal residence. IMM13 holders don’t need work permit. Banks however do not accept the document to open an account. Those affected keep their savings in gold.

Other snippets from the aborted Mustapha Memoirs, worth recalling, may make useful reading.

He prided himself on his command of English and wondered why local graduates were lacking in the language. He began life as an office boy after dropping out in Year 1 in Sabah. Sequerah said that Mustapha was born on a nearby island in the Philippines.

Mustapha confirmed that Orang Asal leader Donald Stephens never wanted Malaysia. The latter visited the Suluk leader in London, where the Year 1 dropout was attending a short course in the English language. They discussed independence for North Borneo. Mustapha cautioned that the British would never agree. In retrospect, as related by Mustapha, he called Tunku Abdul Rahman when Malaya was about to get independence on 31 Aug 1957. Tunku felt that North Borneo could not join the Federation of Malaya since the former territory “was so far away” and besides it was not in the peninsula.

Malaysia . . .

In 1962, at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Singapore, Tunku disclosed the plans for Malaysia which covered North Borneo, Sarawak, Brunei, and Singapore as well. Ironically, Mustapha from the Philippines may have been the real Father of Malaysia. He may have been worried about the future of the local Muslim community in a territory which was 80 per cent non-Muslim. Malaysia may have been Mustapha’s idea of ensuring that the Muslim had a place in the sun after the British left Sabah.

The term Sabah, said Mustapha, was a kind of banana. The Datu (traditional chiefs) from Sulu saw many Sabah plants in the Lahad Datu area where they first landed. They called the place Sabah. The Sulu sultanate’s claim to Sabah refers to the Lahad Datu area and by extension to Tawau and the eastern seaboard stretching northwards beyond Sandakan.

Tunku wasn’t very happy with the close relationship between Mustapha and Stephens. He cautioned that Stephens would one day kill Mustapha “politically”. The caution followed Mustapha turning up in Kuala Lumpur and proposing that Stephens be sent to Australia as High Commissioner.

Mustapha got the idea after he saw Stephens walking in town, one day, near the Capital Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. The Suluk leader stopped his car and offered to send Stephens home. On the way, they discussed Stephen’s proposed appointment.

In 1976, Stephens returned from Australia and led the Berjaya Party to victory over Mustapha’s Usno (United Sabah National Organisation).

Usno, in recent days, joined the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition.

The Mustapha biography may finally be out. I haven’t read it.
See here . . .


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Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

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