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Umno Sabah not laden with imports

I refer to the letters on Umno in Sarawak and Sabah by John Ting and Tanak Wagu. I am in agreement with Tanak Wagu that Umno should not have come to Borneo. But my reasons are different.

Umno means Muslim dominance and that is not fair to the natives of Sarawak or even Sabah.

Sarawak natives are mostly Christians. Only the Melanaus and Sarawak Malays (Bruneians) are Muslims. Even then the Melanaus have a Christian minority led by Leo Michael Toyad.

True, my state, Sabah, has a Muslim native majority. The Bajau-Sulu group is Muslim (and that includes the small Irranun tribe which is under the Sulu group, and the Bugis who are a kindred group from Sulawesi and Maluku).

Likewise with the Brunei-Kedayan group which is akin to the Sarawakian Malays. Together, the Bajau-Sulus and Brunei-Kedayans form a larger portion of the population compared to the Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts, the largest tribal group.

But the Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts are predominantly Christian, with a Muslim minority. Thus, the largest tribal group in Sabah is a Christian one, and Christian natives deserve the Chief Ministership as much as Muslim ones.

Sabah's first Chief Minister Tun Muhammad Fuad Stephens was a Christian, we should not forget. It was only later that he became a Muslim. There was nothing and there is nothing in the Sabah state constitution that says that only a Muslim native can be the chief minister. And I believe the same it is with the Sarawak state constitution.

To be fair to John Ting, I do not believe he is 100 percent for Umno coming to Sarawak, even though I guess he does not know much about Sabah's political situation right now. He was merely saying that if the Sarawakian native parties agreed to disband and then become Umno Sarawak, there would be no stopping Umno coming to Sarawak.

Tanak says that most of the Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts in Sabah Umno are converts to Islam. What he fails to realise is that Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts did not become Muslims suddenly when Umno Sabah was formed.

Many Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts have been Muslims since the time of the Brunei empire and its Bajau-Sulu sub-empire, the Sulu sultanate. In fact, the first Muslims of Sabah were the Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts of the Idahan tribe.

The Bajau-Sulus and Brunei-Kedayans were originally Hindu-Buddhists. The kingfisher coat of arms which Sabah used between 1982-1988 is based on the Hindu deva bird Garuda which is the steed of Vishnu, the deva of water and wind, and the wings of this bird are part of Brunei's insignia until today.

Tanak says that many immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia gather under the Umno flag and even hold top posts in the party. I believe there are people born outside Malaysia's shores who have become Umno members, because of connections to powerful local politicians of Bajau-Sulu stock.

But I do not believe that people whose families arrived in the state from the Sulu Islands (now part of the Philippines) and Sulawesi (now part of Indonesia) before the formation of the Philippine and Indonesian republics (1946 and 1945 respectively) and before Sabah's independence day (Sept 16, 1963) should be considered immigrants.

The Philippines, Sulu Islands and Sabah were all together part of the Sulu empire which was once centred in Sandakan in Sabah and Jolo in the Sulu Islands. They were one Bajau-Sulu nation with Kadazan-Dusun-Murut people in the interior.

Sabah, Sulu and the Philippines had a common history before the coming of colonialism, whether Spanish (which formed the Philippines), American (which took the Philippines and independent Sulu) or British (which took Sabah).

Sulus and Bajaus moved freely between Sabah, Sulu and the Philippines. To them, these regions were the same country, ruled by the Sulu sultan who was their paramount chief.

As for the Bugis, they have long settled in the Brunei empire and Sulu empire. The Bugis peoples are close kin of the Bajau-Sulus. The people of Sulawesi and Maluku migrated out of Borneo, likewise with the Bajau-Sulu living in the Philippines.

Patawari Patawe and Ampung Puyong were born and bred in Sabah and are not Indonesian and Filipino. They would only be Indonesian and Filipino if they were born in independent Indonesia and the Philippines. Likewise with Pandikar Amin Mulia.