Thursday, April 16, 2009

No conclusive proof on origin of KDM (Daily Express)

Posted by Lil' Sue at 4/16/2009 01:34:00 PM
Published on: Sunday, March 22, 2009
Kota Kinabalu: There is still no conclusive proof to show the origin of the KadazanDusunMurut (KDM) community, despite decades of research.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said there are several theories as to where the Borneo tribes came from.
"Some say from the Asian mainland through the Philippines. Others contend that they originated from Taiwan, given the similarity in traditional costumes between the Kadazandusun people and the Alishan people (Taiwanese aborigines).
"When I visited the Thai-Burma border, I also noted the similarity in the dressing of the inhabitants there and their way of life such as slaughtering the buffalo for a wedding feast, preparing homemade wine and things like that," he said, when launching "A Literacy Project to Make Dreams Real for Schoolchildren: English-Malay-Kadazandusun Beginner's Dictionary".
Dompok, who is the Founder of the Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF), believed there are a lot of things that are unknown.
According to him, he had while as Sabah Chief Minister discussed with the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Vice-Chancellor, the possibility of doing some research on the origin of the native peoples of Sabah.
"He was wondering how it can be done. So, I suggested the DNA method, which is being done in other places. In North America, for example, a businessman had started a company specifically for this procedure. Now he has a collection of DNA findings in his possession by which he could trace the origin of forefathers."
As CM, Dompok had sought then Education Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's approval to set up the Kadazandusun Chair in UMS. "A few million dollars had been pumped into the initiative. From then on, UMS took over. I am not sure how far they have gone."
He had pleaded with the Minister to allow the Kadazandusun Language to be taught in schools. "The promise given to me is to allow the language to grow and ensure it is not lost through the passage of time."
Dompok witnessed the presentation of the "English-Malay-Kadazandusun Beginner's Dictionary" to KLF Chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun. Rita Lasimbang compiled the 188-page dictionary.
The dictionary project was jointly organised by the Rotary Clubs of Tanjung Aru, Penampang and Kota Kinabalu and the KLF. Dompok and two other sponsors (GS & Trea Foundation, a private family foundation founded by Dato' Hj Ghulam Sayeed) and RI District 3310 Community Service Fund) have together donated a total of RM50,000 for the project.
The Crocodile Foundation (founded by Dato' Dr Tan Hian Hsin, an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Tanjung Aru) pledged to make a contribution.
Dompok said the Malaysian Government recognised the vital role played by civil society (clubs, organisations and pressure groups) and their contributions in the life of the nation.
"Without their input, I think our nation will not be where it is today.
Countries with zero tolerance for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have not succeeded."
At this juncture, he heaped praise on the clubs for their collaborative effort in bringing the dictionary project to fruition. "I recognise your good work for the betterment of society. It will make people understand and attract them to learn the language, even if it means knowing how to buy things, using the language."
Dompok was happy to note that the Kadazandusun Language will be listed as an elective for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination next year.
The language was taught in some Mission-run primary schools and Native Voluntary Schools (NVS) in Sabah in the mid-1950s until the late 1960s.
The teaching of the language was re-introduced in Sabah schools in 1997.
In 2008, the language was taught from Primary Four to Form Three (PMR) level.
Saying language is an integral part of culture, Dompok said culture is not static. "It is dynamic, a living thing. That's how culture develops and it may even no longer be a culture tomorrow. And culture can't survive on government hand-outs.
"Ballet dancing, for example, cannot survive without people going to the theatre and paying to watch the performances.
"Therefore, culture means a certain level of sophistication and income for it (culture) to thrive. The KLF is no different from that."
In this respect, he concurred with Sipaun that the Kadazandusun Language, a Borneo language, faced the threat of extinction, like many other indigenous languages in the world.
"Such threat is very real. The Kadazandusun Language Foundation is doing its part to prevent this from happening. With the support of civil society, it will go a long way towards achieving its objectives."
Noting that the number of people using Kadazandusun as their first language was dwindling, Dompok called for a reversal of this trend.
He said in jest : "For all you know, (Tan Sri) Simon and I may be 'The Last of the Mohicans'. (The Mohicans are a native American tribe that vanished).
"When there are fewer friends to converse in the Kadazandusun Language or when people laugh at them, children will feel intimidated."
On a similar note, he expressed concern over his near-inability to pass down the richness of the language to his grandchildren as English is also spoken in their family.
"However, I encourage my grandchildren to speak Kadazandusun as their first language."
In a light vein, Dompok suggested that the language experts talk to couples from the Kadazandusun community, who are about to tie the nuptial knot.
"I was told that if you speak Kadazandusun to your child in the first few weeks of his or her birth, that will become the child's first language in the formative years and thereafter. I think this is one of the things that can be done to propagate the use of the language.
"Which is why I told Rita (Lasimbang) to give copies of her dictionary to mothers who have given birth and encourage the latter to consider speaking the language to their children at birth.
"It has also been said that if you use a particular language as your language of courtship, it will be your language for the rest of your life."
Thanking the State Education Department, Sipaun said its co-operation would go a long way towards helping KLF to preserve, promote and protect the Kadazandusun Language, which is facing an uphill battle.
"The department's contribution makes our endeavour a winnable one. Why battle is because it is a matter of survival. As a child, I only knew Kadazan.
My parents spoke the language to me. It was the only language spoken and understood by the villagers then.
"But things have changed in this era of modern development. A lot of indigenous languages are disappearing from the face of the Earth."
Turning to the Rotary Clubs, Sipaun said with their support and encouragement, there was still great hope for the language to survive the test of time today and in the future.
Also present were Rotary International (RI) District 3310 Governor Edward Sung Burongoh, Assistant Governor Robert Lai, District 3310 Chairperson (Community Services) Margaret Fung, District 3310 Chairperson (Matching Grant) Anita Dhawan and District 3310 Chairperson (Attendance) Joan Phang, State Education Department's Kadazandusun Language Desk Officer Hjh Nur Azalina Abdullah who represented the Director Datuk Normah Gagoh, and Rotary Club Presidents Brenndon Keith Soh (Tanjung Aru), Warrence Chan (KK) and Paulinus Mojiun (Penampang).


Lil' Sue said...

I'm very interested about this topic..maybe we can try to work this out. We have lots of universities, yet none has come up with the proof and fact about kadazandusun origin...I'm curious...(^_^)


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