Archive for July, 2008

Where To Visit In Borneo? When, Why, Who, What… How

Written by Jaxon S on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 in Borneo Tourism, Borneo Travel.

I’m a RSS subscriber of several tour and travel forums and often times I come across questions such as where to visit in Borneo, when is the best time to visit Borneo, how to go to certain places in Borneo as well as cheap flights to Borneo.

Recently, a member of the Travel Forum, for instance, posted the question, “Where to visit in Borneo?“.

I wish I had the time to compile a report on all the must-visit places in Borneo — covering Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan — but I’m too busy with work.

Even if I do have the time after coming back from office, my mind would already be so tired up and bordering on fatigue that any possibility of engaging in productive research and writing is as good as none.

But I still harbour the hope of being able to come up with the report one day. If you have the time though, you might want to suggest the places through the comment section.

Some Jokes About Wildlife

Written by Jaxon S on Friday, July 25th, 2008 in Borneo Miscellaneous Stories.

If Borneo has the orang utan, Australia has kangaroo, China the panda bear, what species of wildlife can you find in Singapore?


A Fertile Land That Lies Wasted

Written by Jaxon S on Friday, July 25th, 2008 in Borneo Immigration Issue, Sabah Claim.

This is my own comment I posted in this entry titled, “Heirs Of Sulu Sultan Say, “Okay, We Drop Our Claim On Sabah“.

I guess the comment deserves an entry of its own. Here’s is the comment, with some editing:

“I travelled quite a lot in the Southern Philippines in 1995-2000. It’s a shame that the area is mired in poverty. It really is a fertile land, with rolling hills and blue seas and dozens of beautiful islands.

But something must have gone wrong in the area in the last century and I blamed it squarely on the Sultan of Sulu for failing to reign over the area and the Philippine government for neglecting it.

Now they are looking at the shining new diamond called Sabah right at their doorstep and say… “hey, that diamond is mine”.

If something is not done, the area will remain trapped in their pre-1950s condition and it would be painful for the people there to see its neighbours are galloping quite confidently into the 21st century…

For deported Filipinos, it’s Sabah or bust” says the title of an article in The Philippine Daily Inquirer dated July 24.

It quoted one Basit Nur as saying that being detained at the Ruma Mera “was more bearable than seeing my family mired in poverty” in southern Philippines.

“Shame can’t be eaten. What’s important is a job to sustain one’s family,” he said.

[Filipino illegal immigrants awaiting deportation at the Menggatal detention centre or "rumah merah". Pix courtesy of My Say blog]

Ruma Mera or rumah merah (the red house) refers to the detention centres in Sabah of which rooftops are invariably painted with red.

Outsmarting the police

Malaysian police and other authorities, please take note. The report further said :

Asked if he was planning to return to Sabah, Nur said: “I will. Even if I don’t have the money for the processing of my papers here, I will find other ways to return. And I will make sure that I will outsmart the police there.”

As a father I share his sentiment

No. Not the sentiment about outsmarting the police but rather, the determination to feed the family.

I too, will do anything within my means to feed my family because as the song says, “what is a man, what has he got, if not himself, then he has naught”.

But I will do anything too to protect the livelihood of my family, in my country, from being threatened by another man, who is equally determined to do anything to feed his family, including encroaching into my territory.

So, while I do have sympathy for fathers like Basit, I’ve also accepted the fact that life is never easy. So if Basit is arrested and deported, too bad but that should be the way.

And people like Basit can do themselves a great favour by coming to Sabah properly documented if livelihood is what they are really looking for.

Pin-drop silence in the Philippine press

Stories like this makes for a good read in the Philippine press. But I don’t understand why the silence about taking the Philippine government task for the lack of development in southern Philippines?

Why blame the Malaysian government for deporting Filipinos and not the Philippine government for failing to take care of its own people in the south?

Son Of Former Sabahans Is Barack Obama’s Brother In-Law

Written by Jaxon S on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 in Borneo Diaspora.

Anyone related to Howard Ng of Sandakan and Joan of Kudat? Because if you are, you are somehow connected to Barack Obama.

Here’s how. Ng and his wife, Joan, both Sabah-borns, migrated to Canada a more than three decades ago.

Photo by The Star

The photo above is from The Star newspaper

Their son Konrad Ng was born there and later ended up in Hawaii to pursue his education and career. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii.

The meeting in Hawaii

While in Hawaii, Konrad met Maya Soetoro, who is Obama’s half-sister. They later got married. Maya was born to Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian businessman and Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother.

Watching an Independence Day parade in the US four years ago were (from left) Michelle Obama, her daughter Sasha, Obama, Malia, Maya, Ng, and their daughter Suhalia. — AP

Maintaining contact

“I have many relatives who live throughout Malaysia, especially in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and the two towns where my parents came from,” Konrad, 34, told The Star.

The Star did not mention who is the older — Obama or Maya — but after some research, it was clear that Maya is the younger one. Below is a picture of Obama as a young boy and the toddler Maya, with their mother Dunham.

Father left when Obama was two

What happened to Obama’s father? Well, in Obama’s own word: “He had left my mother and myself in Hawaii back in 1963, when I was only two years old.”

“As a child, I knew him only through the stories that my mother and grandparents told,” said Obama. [Source]

Obama was born “Barack Hussein Obama II” at 7.24pm in Oahu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961.

So I guess, Dunham had married Soetoro about several years after Obama’s birth.

On Obama, Ng said, the Democrat candidate was “exceptionally brilliant.”

“He has a thorough understanding of the challenges we face and sound judgment on how we should address these challenges.

“Barack is a dedicated family man and cares deeply about transforming the world into a better place so that all families will have the same opportunities to do better,” he told The Star.

What happened to Obama’s father? He died in a car accident in Nairobi in 1982.

Heirs Of Sulu Sultan Say, “Okay, We Drop Our Claim On Sabah”

Written by Jaxon S on Thursday, July 17th, 2008 in Sabah Claim.

Nine “heirs” of the Sultan of Sulu have agreed to drop their claim on Sabah, saying they were now “willing to surrender their rights” to the North Bornean state.

The Star newspaper quoted one Datu Omar Ali Datu Backtiyal as saying that he had obtained the signatures of the nine heirs of the late Sultan Mohamat Jamal Al Alam agreeing to relinquish their claim last year.

Sabah claim, a footnote in a library

Well, as far as this blog is concern, the so-called Sabah claim is just that — a claim; a footnote in a library of books.

A footnote, therefore, cannot rise to claim to be the whole book.

Let’s see… Sabah is being claimed by at least three parties — the Philippine government, Nur Misuari and the Sulu Sultan (whoever he is).

I wonder why the preoccupation with Sabah when they could not even take care of their own backwater — those islands in the Sulu Sea.

I guess it has got to do with looks. Sabah is beautiful and prosperous. Their backwater, though beautiful but due to decades of neglect, is no longer attractive.

Reverse claim

Tell you what, why don’t someone among the Sulu heirs make a reverse claim… ask the Philippine government to let go southern Philippines and then apply to join Malaysia as its 14th state?

Then they can make one of the Sulu Sultans the Yang Dipertua Negeri Sulu and appoint someone from the area as the Chief Minister and form a whole cabinet.

Caribbean of the East

That way, we can co-exist nicely. Then we can develop together.

Jack SparrowHeck, we can make the waters in the east coast of Sabah and the islands towards the east as the Caribbean of the East. But the people of Sulu should promise one thing la… they will have to surrender their guns to the authorities.

We want no Jack Sparrow in the Caribbean of the East.

The people should now fight another kind of war, the one fought in the economic battlefront. What say you?

While surfing the web recently, I came across a very interesting map of Borneo Island, with the British Isles “embedded” in it to show just how vast Borneo is.

What amazes me is the fact that the map was drawn in the 19th century, an era where global positioning system and satellite navigation, not to mention Google Earth, were still light years away.

borneo british map

The map is included in a 1869 book titled The Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), a 19th century British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist.

Orang utan attacks hunterWallace wrote in the book that he dedicated The Malay Archipelago to Charles Darwin, the author of The Origin of Species.

He said the book was “not only as a token of personal esteem and friendship (with Darwin) but also to express my deep admiration for his genius and his works.”

The book also has many interesting hand-drawn illustrations depicting the lives, people and the flora and fauna of Borneo and other islands in the Malay archipelago.

One of the many interesting drawings is about an orang utan attacking a group of Borneo natives. See all the unique illustrations and read all of Wallace’s adventures in The Malay Archipelago here, courtesy of Papua Web.

The Sultan of Sulu — whoever he may be — has been issuing birth certificates purportedly to his subjects or “tarraayat” or rakyat in Sabah, the Malaysian state on Borneo island.

He didn’t call it “katarangan kalahiran” — those are my words — but rather “katarrangan sin kapag-anak” or birth information.

Those who know Malay will be able to guess the meaning of katarrangan sin kapag-anak.

Below is the low quality birth certificate supposedly issued to a person born in 1994.

The birth certificate image is originally posted at DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang’s blog, reproduced here without permission.

Sultan of Sulu Birth Certificate
Click here for the larger image.

The below than sub-standard birth certificate look as though it was issued in the 1940’s.

bar codeHowever, the birth certificate is supposed to be readable digitally, as there seems to be some sorts of a bar code on its top left corner.

But I bet no machine in the current world will be able to read those code. Someone from the outer space may be able to decode it.

Lim said his blog:

“In Parliament yesterday, I gave the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung a copy of a birth certificate issued by the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo/Sabah for children born in Sabah, challenging Malaysian sovereignty in Sabah, as he said he was unaware of the existence of such birth certificates.

DAP MP for Kota Kinabalu Hiew King Cheu had earlier given me a copy of the birth certificate issued by the Sultan of Sulu & North Borneo/Sabah for his “subjects” in Sabah, raising disturbing questions about the future of Sabah – especially with the unchecked influx of illegal immigrants in the past four decades with many native Sabahans feeling that they have become foreigners in their own homeland!”

Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, which met yesterday in Quebec City, Canada, has approved the inscription of eight more sites into the World Heritage Sites, including Georgetown in Penang and Melaka… in Melaka of course.

Kinabalu Park in Sabah, on the northern part of Borneo island and Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, also in Malaysia’s Borneo, were included in the list in 2000. That makes four of us.

The committee said:


Sing Your Heart Out With Firewater’s “Borneo”

Written by Jaxon S on Friday, July 4th, 2008 in Borneo Diaspora.

George Bush hater Todd A leave left the United States soon after Bush Bush’s re-election in 2004, saying, “I became so depressed that the idea of sitting under a palm tree far, far away from George Bush became more appealing.”

The Firewater frontman travelled the world but returned three years later in time for the US 2008 Election, with a new album “The Golden Hour”, with Borneo as the opening track.

“Got a monkey for a president” is the third line in the lyrics.

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