I was once a part-time reporter with a national newspaper. Back then, and still is, they call part-time reporters “stringers”, although none of their job involves stringing strings (for want of a better pun).

That was in the early 90’s and Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan was still the Sabah Chief Minister and Datuk Yong Teck Lee his deputy, if my memory serves me right.

Seri Bersatu assignment

Sometime in 1993, I was assigned to cover an event at Seri Bersatu, Pairin’s residence in Luyang near Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Sabah.

I could not remember what exactly the event was — it might have been a Harvest Festival celebration or a Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) anniversary, but I remember there was partying, and singing, and the food was great.

Biar kau menjadi lilin

I still remember Datuk Lawrence Gimbang was singing “Biarku Menjadi Lilin” that night and did quite a nice rendition of the song.

Well, it wasn’t great — as Simon Cowell would have put it — but it wasn’t terrible. Now we know from whom Rich of Akadami Fantasia got his singing talent.

Calling it the blues

I also remember the sharp, stinging and definitive sound of an electric guitar in the hands of Datuk Hassan Alban Sandukong, who was Sabah Legislative Assembly Speaker at the time, again if my memory serves me right –  about Alban’s post, I mean; not the guitar.

I remember the guitar well because guitar-playing politician was quite a sight for me — the greenhorn stringer — back then.

Hassan Alban is no Eric Clapton but man, he can still play the blues.

And then there was Young Turk Lee

Then there was Yong, the then PBS Deputy President, whom we — the reporters — bumped into while filling our plates with food. He greeted us and told us how great the party was.

Something in the way he said it

But there was something else he said that night that is flooding back to me now like an old dream.

I guess, we, the reporters, must have remarked about the food and had probably asked him if he had taken his. He told us that he in fact had, and that he was just walking around “to get an idea how to make a party”.

That was many more months before he finally made the party and it had nothing to do with playing guitar or singing about becoming a candle. His party is called Parti Maju Sabah or Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

… to be continued (but can’t promise when)

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