Articles Fri, 20 Jul 2018 03:49:53 +0800 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Ongkili: Be wary of the Opposition as they are seasonal politicians
KOTA MARUDU, Dec 23 — The opposition are seasonal politicians who emerge during elections said Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Executive Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili to the people of Sabah. 

“Be wary of the opposition,” said Ongkili, describing the opposition as politicians who normally emerged when the election was near.

“Suddenly new parties are formed. They come during election season, which clearly shows their intention but we in Barisan Nasional have been consistent with our mission and struggles.

“We learned from past mistakes to have a better tomorrow for the people, so next year will be better than this year,” he said when addressing supporters from the PBS Women and Youth wings, here.

Speaking when presenting kitchen utensils and sports equipment to 48 Kota Marudu PBS Women branches and 50 PBS Kota Marudu Youth branches, respectively, he said instead of dwelling with matters related to the opposition, party members should focus on preparations for the coming election.

“There is still much work to be done. We have proven our sincerity and delivered development to the people. We will continue to fight for the good of Sabah and Sabahans,” he said.

Earlier, Ongkili, who is also the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, presented Christmas goodies and donation to 427 churches from all denominations in Matunggong and Tandek.

He said through such pre-Christmas gatherings, peace and unity amongst the people can be promoted since it is the basic foundation to develop and progress.

Source : themalaymailonline

]]> (Bash) Articles Fri, 23 Dec 2016 17:22:34 +0800
Kota Marudu to have double carriage way
KOTA MARUDU, Dec 16, 2016: Road congestion will soon be over, thanks to the proposed construction of the dual carriageway here beginning next year.

  Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Ongkili (fifth left) inspecting the progress of the dual carriageway project here in Kota Marudu, he was briefed by the Deputy Director of Drainage and Irrigation Department in Public Works Department (JKR), Ir Edward Lingkapo (fourth right) and other officials.

Member of Parliament here Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, in giving the assurance today after inspecting the affected stretches, said works are currently on-going to shift the electricity and telephone lines to make way for the project.
“The 3-kilometre dual carriageway project is divided into two phases. 
"We started the first phase of shifting the drainage along the stretch six months ago, and has recently completed. We expect to begin the second phase next year,” the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister added.
He said the RM30 million worth project is expected to ease traffic flow, which has long troubled motorists here due to the fast pace of economic  development taking place in the district.
The road construction is expected to be completed by end of next year, if all land matters are sorted out according to schedule.


]]> (Bash) Articles Fri, 16 Dec 2016 10:47:26 +0800
Selangor, Putrajaya to discuss water deal next week – Bernama
Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali will meet Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili next week to ......
Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali will meet Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili next week to ...

Read more

]]> (Mary) Articles Sun, 05 Apr 2015 01:11:00 +0800
It pays to be loyal to the max (The Star, 22 November 2002)

Sabah, the Land Below the Wind, has seen its politicians switching loyalties like the breeze. But one man who has not done so is PBS
deputy president Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, who seems to be heading for better times following his party's return to Barisan Nasional,

For years, the road leading to Dr. Maximus Ongkili's house in rural Bandau was tarred except the last 1km stretch nearest his place. Motorists passing the route, which leads to the town, had to contend with a bumpy ride. But in August, that 1km stretch was "miraculously" tarred. This was eight months after Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) rejoined Barisan Nasional in January.

But Ongkili, who is second term MP for Bandau, is now Datuk Ongkili.

He was bestowed the title in September by the Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri. Such are the changing fortunes in politics.

Ongkili, fondly known as Dr. Max, laughed when he was asked about the road during an interview recently.

"We were told last time that there were no allocations to tar that part," he said.

A likeable man, he spoke about his political career in a matter-of-fact way. His replies were thoughtful, politically correct, even dry.

"If I had opted to join other parties and become a member of the 'frog brotherhood', I might have become a state minister a long time ago," he said.

(supporters of Upko, helmed by Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, may question his interpretation of events.) They claimed that Ongkili was the architect of the party constitution, then known as Parti Democratic Sabah (PDS).

But in a sense, Ongkili is still among the least tainted Kadazandusun leaders. He is one of the few politicians in Sabah who is respected for not abandoning PBS, when most of the party big guns jumped ship shortly after the 1994 state election.

Once, he was offered the secretary general's post in PDS. The person who eventually took over that position went on to become a state minister.

"I have no regrets, though," said Ongkili, who paid tribute to two men who he says have shaped much of his political beliefs.

One is his second oldest brother, Datuk Dr James Ongkili, who was a federal minister and former Deputy Chief Minister during Berjaya's reign in the 1980s.

"I learned form him the importance of being a moderate person," he said. There are 10 boys in the Ongkili family, with him as the seventh.

The other figure of influence is PBS president Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is related to him Ongkili's maternal grandmother is the sister of Pairin's father.

Or to put it simply, Pairin is his uncle.

"I have seen in him patience, consistency, persistence and resilience," he said of the man he calls "Datuk" or "boss" in public but "maman" (Kadazandusun for uncle) in private.

"I learned that you cannot be a proud man in politics. You have got to be a grassroots person. Put on a T-shirt and mingle with the people," he said.

He recalled Pairin's word to him two days before nomination day for the 1994 Sabah elections, when his party boss passed him a letter endorsing him as a PBS candidate.

"It was 1am. He told me 'Max, I have decided to send you to contest in Langkon to serve the people there. Please take care of the name of PBS and Tambunan (Ongkili's hometown). Use all the professional skills that you have to leave your footprints there."

A former lecturer with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (now Universiti Putra Malaysia), DR Ongkili, who has a PhD in agriculture, became a full-time politician in 1994, remaining with PBS all this while.

His experiences had not been easy. He saw how Pairin had to wait for more than 36 hours at the gate of the state place before he was sworn in as Sabah chief minister after the 1994 election.

He remembered how Pairin had then appealed to a group of PBS leaders to stick together for "this is your party. Use it to build bridges with the Federal Government."

Ongkili himself has stormy ties with Kuala Lumpur at one time. In 1991, he was detained for 59 days under the Internal Security Act.

According to news reports, Ongkili was investigated for "actions prejudicial to the country's security."

Throughout the detention, he maintained his innocence and was confident that he would be released.

"I did much soul-searching. It made me more committed to my Christian faith. Under those circumstances, no one can help you except God," said Ongkili, who still acts as a lay preacher at the Sidang Injil Borneo church in Likas.

The experience also made him realise how precious his family was to him - his daughter is now 18 and his son, five.

Ongkili stressed that there were not many differences about being with PBS in the opposition since 1994, and now with the party in the ruling coalition.

"There are no changes in the political struggles. We are working together towards national development."

"We have always stood by what we said. No words need swallowing," he said, adding that the party's return to Barisan had been planned with the support of the members.

"Besides, I have never hentam-keromok (hit out carelessly). My brother (DR James) had always told me to talk based on facts.

In a way, he is not entirely wrong. Ongkili is largely viewed as a moderate, a Sabah politician whom the Federal Government finds agreeable.

He declined to comment if he has what it takes to be the future Huguan Siou, the paramount leader of the Kadazandusuns.

But politically, PBS watchers think he is likely the next Number One man in PBS.

Ongkili, who is the party strategist, merely replied that Pairin's time to quit was still far off.

"But he will be looking at the group of '94 which rebuilt the party after its collapse. These are the people who invested a lot of time and effort to reposition the party."

"It may not be me," he said, naming a host of possible leaders like PBS secretary-general Datuk Radin Malleh, vice-president Datuk Michael Asang and deputy president Dr Yee Moh Chai.

Ongkili also spoke on the need to work harder for PBS, which he said was the oldest existing political party in Sabah.

"We have to institutionalise the party even further. We must have that commitment," he said.

With PBS' homecoming to Barisan, the 49-year-old Ongkili's future looks as smooth as the tarred road in front of his Bandau house.

]]> (Super User) Articles Sat, 27 Sep 2014 14:20:39 +0800
Ongkili gets his reward (The Star, 31st March 2004)

PETALING JAYA, Mar 31 (The Star) -- Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili could have moved up the government administration ladder 10 years ago had he accepted offers to leave Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and join the Barisan Nasional.

However, unlike many PBS leaders who did so shortly after the 1994 state elections – which resulted in the party’s short-lived victory and rule – and became federal and state ministers, Dr Ongkili decided to stick with PBS.

His perseverance, loyalty and hard work finally paid off.

Yesterday, the PBS deputy president was sworn in as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department with national unity and integration as his portfolio. “My brother, James (Datuk James Ongkili, the former Tuaran MP who served as federal Justice Minister 30 years ago) told me that in politics you have to be patient,” said Dr Ongkili, who is fondly known as Dr Max.

Dr Ongkili: 'I knew that being loyal to the party would pay off one day.' “I became involved in politics in 1994 and could have changed parties but opted to stay in PBS.

“Many people tried to discourage me and asked why I should hold on to values and principles that cannot feed me,” said the 51-year-old father of two.

During the 1994 political crisis in Sabah, a senior federal minister gave him advice he never forgot.

“He told me that one must have principles, grassroots support and must work hard,” Dr Ongkili said.

He said his decision to stick with PBS was also due to loyalty to his voters who had elected him for three terms as Kota Marudu (previously Bandau) MP and Tandek (previously Langkon) state assemblyman.

“I knew that being loyal to PBS would pay off one day. PBS persisted and moved on,” said Dr Ongkili who was an Internal Security Act detainee for 59 days in 1991.

The PBS rejoined Barisan in 2002 after being an opposition party for 12 years.

Dr Ongkili said it was important to gain the people’ s trust and this could not be done overnight, “so even if the job was small, we did it well.” “When we were in the opposition, we could hardly participate in government programmes but we gave our input when possible,” he added. Dr Ongkili represented the PBS as chairman of the National Economic Consultative Council committee on poverty eradication; sat in the public accounts committee in Parliament and was the National Service Council member for two terms.

On his appointment, he said: “I am sure they (federal leadership) have been observing us for a long time and did the necessary checks on us (PBS).

“Now they are confident we can contribute and let us sit in the Cabinet,” he said. Dr Ongkili said he was happy with the portfolio given to him as the subject was close to his heart. “I am a nationalist and am happy to play a direct role in promoting national unity and integration,” he said.

He said that national unity and integration programmes should be revived and updated with greater focus on nationhood and patriotism.

Dr Ongkili said that such programmes should also be linked to eradicating poverty and economic disparity besides changing the people’s mindset.

A former lecturer with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, Dr Ongkili has a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Australia.

]]> (Super User) Articles Sat, 27 Sep 2014 14:20:20 +0800
Bonding at the national level (The Sun, 18th - 19th September 2004)

THE NATION celebrated Malaysia Day on Sept 16, an occasion that has yet to receive as much attention as Merdeka Day.

Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department who heads the National Unity and Integration Department, tells CINDY THAM and JACQUELINE ANN SURIN that more can be done, not just to foster better relations between the different communities in the country but also between Malaysians in the peninsula and in Sabah and Sarawak.

theSun: The National Unity and Integration Department traces its origins to the National Unity Department formed after May 13, 1969. How has the department's role and the socio-political environment evolved over the past 30 years?
Ongkili: As you know, it was formed from 1969, May 13, during the national-operation period under emergency at that time. But it has grown. In fact, it has come in and out of Jabatan Perdana Menteri (JPM) no less than three times. It was a board on its own, then it came back to JPM.

The major leap would have been [more than] 10 years ago, when it became a ministry on its own together with the [National Unity and] Social Development Ministry.

It went on there for almost 12 years, and then this time, when the Prime Minister [Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi] formed the Cabinet, he decided to bring it back to the PM's department and then left the social-development part to merge with the Wanita [Women and Family Development Ministry, now known as Women, Family and Community Development Ministry].

Now, we see that as a progression. Some people might think it's a setback, from a ministry going back to the Prime Minister's Department. But we, in the department, see it as a strategic placement going back to the Prime Minister's Department, where the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are closer to getting involved in the programmes and giving input.

As you know, all departments placed under the Prime Minister's Department are known as strategic departments. So, it grew from the need to build and preserve unity. It also has the role, right from the beginning, [of preserving] security. And really, national unity cannot divorce [itself] from matters of security because when people are disunited, then it affects peace and other matters of security ...

For instance, a major arm of the department is Rukun Tetangga. And of course, Rukun Tetangga was formed on the basis of the Essential Regulations Rukun Tetangga 1975 and charged with two purposes.

One, as an instrument that is a grassroots organisation ... to organise activities, formulate programmes for the purpose of unifying people through interaction, through activities that promote interaction, and therefore, tolerance and common understanding.

In the process, there is unity.

But the second arm of it is the security aspect. This is supposed to assist the government machinery in terms of making sure that peace and harmony at the grassroots level is maintained. And so Rukun Tetangga, under the Essential Regulations, when it does patrolling, it's bestowed with police power.

And actually, the Act is a very powerful Act, which the Prime Minister or the Home Affairs [Minister] or the minister in charge could... anytime further enhance its role in promoting unity and doing pencegahan, crime prevention, whereby the minister can declare the area a registration area and everybody has to register in and out of the area.

The department has grown. Its focus is on programmes for unity and security and it evolved to focus on neighbourliness in the 1980s especially, and then in the 1990s, the focus was still on national unity and racial interaction. But our activities are now more diverse to handle the aspect of community empowerment.

Our programmes are then wider than this aspect of purely security and racial interaction. We focus on instilling patriotism ...

So, we have four major arms under Rukun Tetangga, for instance. You have Tunas Jiran, [for] those below 15 years old; then Jiran Muda, the belia, youth and young teenagers; then Jiran Wanita, the women's group; then, you have Usia Mas for the grey-haired. So, we have a programme for all these sectors of people.

We have a kindergarten programme for the younger ones, camping activities and so forth. We now have a Social Reference Centre at our Pusat Rukun Tetangga. It's equipped with computers and counsellors. So, young people can also come in and make use of the facilities or seek counselling. And the higher levels of the youth, we do camping, we do study method camps.

And then the Wanita, they do a lot of creative things like craft and other economic activities. And the old people, give them room to sit together, exchange opinions, do some writing. So we have programmes for everybody.
This is what we call empowering the community, aside from the patrolling which is a permanent feature of Rukun Tetangga.

And the last function of the department, because it has been renamed... Dulu (In the past), it was Jabatan Perpaduan, National Unity Department. Under the new administration, it's named Department of National Unity and National Integration.

So, the National Integration part encompasses matters of integrating Sabah and Sarawak and Semenanjung [peninsular Malaysia] as a single entity of the country. That, we focus on creating visits, we support students, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) who go to Sabah and Sarawak for field trips or even for sports and cultural exchange during National Day and cultural festivities.

On National Day, we get people from Sabah and Sarawak to visit the Semenanjung and also during Pesta Kaamatan, the Harvest Festival in Sabah and Sarawak, we get people here in the Rukun Tetangga to visit. That part is the regional integration aspect. So, it's two-fold.

The thing about Sabah and Sarawak is that other than facilitating the visits, there are other issues that still remain questionable. For example, the need to show an IC when we enter the states. How does the ministry deal with that?
Sure, those issues have been raised over the years. But actually, when you look at the whole country, those are minor issues when they are seen in their proper perspective. Matters of immigration are, of course, matters bestowed on both states as part of the requirement for the Malaysia agreement.

Over the years, both state governments have more or less agreed to say, dilute those positions. Nowadays, you do'Ít have to show your passport; you can just show your IC and fill in a form, which we call Form 114.

In fact, there was a time when if you travel to Labuan, you [didn't] even have to show anything. But now, MAS [Malaysia Airlines] has imposed requirements. Irrespective of where you are going within the mainland, you still have to show [your] IC now because of matters of terrorism and security and so forth.

And I think, from my own study over the years, and impressions, it should not really be a major hindrance, the need to show identity or to fill a form as you enter Sabah and Sarawak. Because one of it is the distance factor.

And when you have an open [sea] -- keep in mind that it's 1,600km from here to Kota Kinabalu and 1,100km from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching -- a lot of things can happen in the course of travelling, where, for instance, after the federalisation of Labuan, they opened the gates.

A lot of bad hats came through because people just walked in without even showing anything. The bad hats, illegal retailers, criminals, illegal immigrants and so forth. So, those are safety [considerations] for the country.

Now, if you ask Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak, they will say that we subscribe to that -- immigration rights were part of the pillars of Malaysia, and if you want to strengthen the country, pillars must be respected.

Having said that, the Sabah and Sarawak state governments have been very open to discussions [to change] from passport to now Form 114. Except that the act of doing it may make you feel as if you are in a foreign land, but if you look at it as a security provision, it shouldnÍt be seen in that light ...

But more importantly, it's explaining the rationale behind the position ... Actually, information is very, very important. This is where the media is important.

So, there is a gradual opening up or removal of these perceived barriers?
Yes. I mean the word you use is "perceived barriers". When you explain [the rationale] behind it all, people begin to see it in context. And that's why information is very, very important.

Considering the history of the formation of Malaysia, these requirements were seen to be pressing to the two states at that time. This leads to the next question, Sept 16, the anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, which is hardly celebrated in a big way. Do you sense it, especially since that you are from Sabah?
Well, that's a very valid question. It's been asked many times. The federal government has been addressing this issue, actually. The Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) used to organise conferences on this matter. There was a very important conference in 1997, where this was specifically raised.

They said that when we celebrate kemerdekaan [independence], it's 47 [years]. Actually, 47 is for Malaya. For Sabah and Sarawak, it is 41 because the nation Malaysia was formed in 1963. So strictly speaking, it's 41 for Sabah and Sarawak.

The federal government has been very sensitive [about] this and that's why we celebrate it for one month. We start on Aug 17 and we stretch it until Sept 16... I think we can do a lot more to highlight the issue.

There is the suggestion from the public and from conferences that Aug 31 is the Merdeka celebration and Sept 16 is National Day or Hari Kebangsaan.

We are still in the process of refining the celebration in terms of leading them in that way. For the moment, Hari Kemerdekaan is celebrated for one month, which ends on Sept 16, which coincides with the day the Malaysia agreement was signed.

Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak are very open to this. But there is the desire that Sept 16 should be given greater emphasis than what is given today.

A desire from East Malaysians?
From Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak. We try to avoid calling East and West. Of course, the regional definition, sometimes we cannot avoid it, but actually, it doesn't occur in the book of the government that there is West and East.

So, in regional planning, we look at zones, as in the Sabah zone and Sarawak zone. I think it's practical because otherwise, we create another divide...

As with Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak see it as Sabah and Sarawak joining Malaya to form Malaysia. The word is never that we joined Malaysia because Malaysia was not in existence then. We formed Malaysia together with Sabah and Sarawak and Singapore at that time, which exited [in 1965].

Is this the first time we are having a month-long celebration?
Oh no, it has been going on for a few years now. Last year, it closed in Sabah.

Somehow, the message that it is closing on Sept 16 because it is a recognition that it is Malaysia Day is not coming through...
Yeah, that part maybe. A lot more can be done in that area. The one-month celebration came from an earlier conference, that it is to be celebrated for a month and to end on Sept 16.

We have been doing that for many years except that the rationale for it has sometimes been overlooked.

Is it a public holiday?
It's a public holiday in Sabah and Sarawak because it coincides with the birthday of the Tuan yang Terutama, the governors of Sabah and Sarawak.

Why isn't it also a public holiday in the peninsula?
That has been suggested for some time. At the national level, the federal government has not taken it up, [chuckles] partly because we have so many public holidays at the moment.

[Laughter] We can have more!
The former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir [Mohamad] and the present prime minister, they are workoholics, you know. And so, there are 14 days [of public holiday] only for the whole year that is permissible and the Cabinet, for the moment, has decided it should be retained at that.

Yeah, we're working at it, but for the moment, it's to enhance the celebration that is important, which is to celebrate it for a whole month, to bring more meaning to it and that's why we're closing it on Sept 16.

Some of the comments we've come across in our research on this whole idea of national unity and integration is that the term Bangsa Malaysia still confines the thinking to race. Another view is that, isn't it ironic that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is functioning under a race-based political party system and that formal applications still require the individual to identify whether he/she is Malay, Chinese, Indian or lain-lain? Do these work against what your department is trying to achieve?
These are practical issues we are grappling with but they are not necessarily a hindrance to national integration, or for that matter, what has been envisioned in Vision 2020, what is called Bangsa Malaysia.

It has two meanings. Bangsa Malaysia can mean the Malaysian nation, a nation of multiracial people. The other one is that it is a Malaysian race. To me, they are not contradictory. They refer to the same [idea].

Maybe in terms of a Malaysian race or ethnicity, it refers to, essentially, a community of people who are no longer so identified with their own race but his race draws from all the good aspects of the other races and that makes him uniquely Malaysian.

And together with his Malaysian brothers and sisters, they have common goals, a common affinity and desire to develop this country. So, that is the perspective of what you call a "Malaysian race"...

Of course, we still have this political party [practice] based on race. There are those who have to identify themselves in certain forms.

There is still a large portion of the community who want be to identified by their ethnicity, not because they are less Malaysian but by virtue of the need for identity at the micro level. But this requirement for identification should not make us any less patriotic...

Definition-wise, there is also the contention on how we should call ourselves: a Malaysian Chinese or a Chinese Malaysian? A Malaysian Kadazandusun or a Kadazandusun Malaysian? There are different opinions on this. I would like to say the word "Malaysian" is the adjective, the descriptive objective. I'm a Malaysian Kadazandusun. I'm a Malaysian first and then, I'm identified by my race...

Other people say, "No, it should be the other way around. The race defines the nation." I disagree. To me, the nation defines the person.

But does the Cabinet agree with your view?
Well, this is my personal view and the government is not very legalistic about this. But we should be Malaysian first, and secondly, our race. The Malaysian nation should define us.

Your department is trying to raise awareness on all this among the adults, through Rukun Tetangga, and the younger generation, through Rukun Negara clubs in schools and other educational institutions. How is this Rukun Negara club going to work?
The Rukun Negara is the tenets, or the falsafah, of the country, our national ideals. It's actually a very, very good set of ideals. I've got to hand it to the people who crafted the Rukun Negara, especially after the 1969 racial conflict, for coming up with a very comprehensive set of ideals, which is timeless, which is so ongoing, it has no set timeframe.

Even at that point, they talked about being progressive, about science and technology, which was just beginning to take off at that time. So, it's a very beautiful set of national ideals ...

A lot has been done through the education system so that our young people learn it by heart. But the world has become very competitive. It's now a globalised world. It's no more the same as the 1960s and 1970s ...

Although people learn it [Rukun Negara] by heart, they are so busy with other syllabus and exams, how to get excellent results and scholarships ... we are concerned that in the process of a competitive world, where you really have to do your very best, the national ideals become something you recite but have not internalised in your heart.

So the idea, which came from the prime minister when he was still deputy prime minister, is to set up a structure at primary schools, secondary schools, both government and private sector schools, to help students internalise these values. So, we do that through activities, through debates, through a series of lectures, through field trips.

These [Rukun Negara] clubs will be different from other clubs because the committee members will be the chairmen and secretaries of other clubs in the school. The idea is to bring all the associations into one so that they have a chance to interact. Otherwise, dia terpisah, they are all separated into their [own respective clubs].

We want to give them an avenue, where they can organise one single programme whereby all the clubs are involved. So, it will be highlighting the principles of Rukun Negara, and run programmes that internalise the values of Rukun Negara.

[For example,] they'll be visiting old folks' homes to understand social values and what is kesusilaan. There'll be visits to Istana Negara to appreciate the palace system, the courts to understand the meaning of the rule of law.

On top of that, we want Rukun Tetangga to adopt some of these clubs so that they are involved with Rukun Tetangga's functions.

Have you been a Rukun Tetangga member before?
[In the past] Rukun Tetangga in Sabah and Sarawak was not that popularised so widely compared to here in the peninsula. But I used to work here, in UPM (Universiti Putra Malaysia) and in ISIS. So in my area, there used to be Rukun Tetangga and I used to participate in some of the activities.

So, you used to patrol the neighbourhood at 3am ...
Ah, the patrol I did not take part in then, but since I've taken over this job, I have joined a few patrols. The patrol is important. Not only is it for the security, given the number of petty crime and so forth, [but also] to highlight that it is not the job of the police but the job of everybody.

When you do rondaan (patrolling), the Rukun Tetangga [group] is usually multiracial. When you do rondaan, you should be cooperative with each other, you help each other ...

That's why I'm appealing to the government to make sure that each Rukun Tetangga has a small building. Those involved can sit down, minum kopi (drink coffee) together, they can cerita-cerita (chat) before the next shift. These are small [measures] but are very critical to instilling understanding...

This is clearly a challenging task for you. Do you ever wish you were assigned an easier portfolio? How has the experience been for you personally?
[Chuckles] I'm one of the Malaysians from Sabah who [has had the opportunity to really grasp the notion of "integration"]. I had higher education through the government; I was on the Colombo Plan and then, became a [scholar under a Japanese programme]. When I came back, I served in UPM. Then I served in ISIS ...

So it's interesting, coming from Sabah, mixing with the people here [in the peninsula]. I learn a lot about how the government operates. When I was in Isis, I got to work on a programme on national integration before going back to Sabah to head a think tank and going into politics 10 years ago.

So, this is a field that I like, that is close to my heart.

But as the prime minister told me when I came to report for duty, he said, "Maximus, you're going to be assisting me to manage the people. And managing people is harder than managing projects."

[Laughs] And he told me, "I would like to see you spending more time on the ground than here in Putrajaya." So, I do that. I only spend [a few days in the office] and the rest of it, we are on the ground, with Rukun Tetangga, with the special unity programmes. So that's why in six months, I have visited all the states except for one -- tonight [Sept 7] I'm going to Pulau Pinang. So, I spend a lot of time on the ground.

You mentioned before that racial relations are actually much better now than they were before. Do you see that on the ground?
Oh yes. The feel-good regime is very good. And there is a true sense of nationalism but a lot more work has to be done, in the communities, such as the setinggan (squatter) community that's stricken with poverty, so that the sense of deprivation is addressed.

Because if there is deprivation and unhappiness between two communities, it could lead to tension. To me, a lot more can be done.

]]> (Super User) Articles Sat, 27 Sep 2014 14:19:27 +0800
Max, a realist scion of Sabah (The Star, 31 May 2009)


Dr Maximus Ongkili, a loyal nephew of PBS leader and Kadazan-Dusun paramount chief Pairin Kitingan, believes in the politics of consensus as the way forward for the community.

HIS easy charm today belies his tough start in life. Young Maximus was born in a police barracks. It was 1953. When he was only three, his father took optional retirement from the police force, applied for land and turned to farming, growing rubber and padi and raising buffalo, pigs and chicken.

“Times were tough,” says Datuk Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili. And there were 10 hungry boys to feed. “The best food was in school,” he recalls.

PIX : Faithful No. 2: Dr Maximus (left) pledges to remain a loyal deputy to Pairin (right) until the PBS president hands over the baton to any of the party’s talented leaders.

Like many others of that generation from Sabah and Sarawak, he and his brothers survived on very simple fare – rice and salt or alternatively, dark soya sauce.

Retired sergeant-major Ongkili could only afford to send young Maximus to school when he had already turned 10. He remembers it was 1963, as it marked the auspicious formation of Malaysia and his father speaking about “this new nation”.

Despite his wispy frame resulting from poor nutrition, the young Maximus studied hard and played hard and soon caught up with his peers.

These days, the Ongkili siblings, like the Kitingans, stand among Sabah’s Kadazan-Dusun community’s political elite.

Dr Maximus says Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan who was born in Papar in 1940 was a role model for his people at a very early age.

He was the first Kadazan-Dusun to graduate in law, after having completed his studies at Adelaide University, Australia.The two families share a family tree and once even lived in the same longhouse in Kg Karanaan – literally Kadazan for “mud” – referring to the padi fields of Tambunan.

Pairin and Dr Maximus’ mother are first cousins. And the destinies of uncle and nephew were set to be entwined.

The elders of the families were community leaders. Dr Maximus remembers Pairin’s father, Kitingan Sabanau, as a “very good ketua kampung” (village headman).

Whenever Kitingan turned up to arbitrate at the native court, he knew by instinct that his famished sons and nephews were up in their favourite guava tree, even after the school bell had rung.

He would come with a long bamboo stick and prod the boys down, with a stern lecture about doing the family proud.

“We were all such rascals,” Dr Maximus recalls with a laugh, adding that he and the others were supposed to herd the buffalo home by 1pm but detours for boisterous swims in the river and scrambling up fruit trees would usually result in their dawdling home only by 4pm.

Their father often wasted no time in cuffing them, using his bare hands or a rotan to mete out punishment.

“Father was the disciplinarian. Mother was a gentle and very loving lady. She understood the importance of us not being hit in the head and always pleaded with father not to box our ears,” reminisces Dr Maximus.

Being the seventh of 10 boys meant that he had to take his turn to help his mother in the kitchen, at the expense of football.

“None of us ended up being good in football,” he says ruefully, adding that he could still hear his mother’s voice: “Johnity, balik masak! (Johnity, come back and cook),” ringing in his ears.

The price of having no sisters also meant that he and his teenaged brothers suffered the ignominy of having to fetch water and firewood – traditionally regarded as “women’s work”.

But there were funny upsides. Among the local customs of the Kadazan-Dusun community is “mitatabang” – a form of gotong royong – during which different families would take turns to help each other.

The number of able-bodied help had to be reciprocated in muscle, as the families moved from padi field to padi field and hosts were required to feed the volunteer help.

Eventually, such talk got back to them: “These Ongkilis, there are so many of them and they eat so much.” The complaining neighbours, eventually asked the family to send only three instead of all 10 brothers.

Others paid for the help they were unable to reciprocate, by giving the family RM5 or RM10 per man, big money in the 1960s.

In spite of his boyhood hardship, Maximus won a Colombo Plan scholarship at the age of 21.

Upon his return, armed with a La Trobe University degree in agricultural science and a PhD in agricultural economics, he lectured at the then Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (1985-86) (now Universiti Putra Malaysia) and became a senior researcher at the KL-based Institute of Strategic and International Studies (1985-87).

In 1987 he returned to his home state and joined the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), a Sabah think-tank headed by Pairin’s brother, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

But soon, Dr Jeffrey, who was accused of plotting to bring Sabah out of Malaysia, was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and held in the Kamunting detention centre for 30 months.

Detention under ISA

For his association with Dr Jeffrey, Dr Maximus was detained in 1991 under the ISA for 59 days – legally one day shy of having to be sent to Kamunting. He took over the post of IDS executive director and CEO for the next three years.

Dr Jeffrey’s detention under the ISA made waves because he was then also director of Yayasan Sabah. Upon his release, Dr Jeffrey embarked on a more circuituous political route and currently represents Pakatan Rakyat’s political efforts in Sabah.

If politics did not flow early in Dr Maximus’ veins, he did have a very good role model in his second eldest brother, the late Datuk Dr James P. Ongkili.

Dr Maximus is very proud of the fact that he and his brother had held the same portfolio as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, each in their own decades.

The other great influence on Dr Maximus is of course his uncle Pairin, Sabah’s former Chief Minister during the heady decade of PBS rule (1985-1994) and Kadazan-Dusun ascendance.

But in 1990, with just days to go to the general election, Pairin pulled the PBS out of the Barisan Nasional, infuriating then Prime Minister (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet. In 1994, Umno formally came into Sabah.

It was in those uncertain times that Dr Maximus entered politics – almost at the eleventh hour. All the other candidates for the 1994 state election had been named except for the state seat of N. 6 Langkon. Two days before nomination day, Pairin drew him aside and explained his reluctance in fielding him for the seat.

“Firstly, Langkon is a poor constituency (meaning one would need a lot of money to build up the area) and secondly, you are my nephew. But if you really want to serve the people, I will name you as the candidate for Langkon.”

But it was already the PBS’ sunset in power. When PBS members jumped ship in droves in 1994, leaving Pairin with insufficient numbers to form the state government, Dr Maximus opted to stay by his uncle’s side.

“For that, I did not become a minister until seven years later,” recalls Dr Maximus, who was rewarded for his party loyalty by being made PBS secretary-general, before his subsequent election as deputy president.

“He is a fighter when he believes in something. He believes that you are either in or you are out,” Dr Maximus says of his uncle.

Pairin’s supporters and detractors agree. Both have likened the self-effacing Pairin to a priest, for his staunch principles and intrinsic goodness.

But not all could persevere on the moral high ground and eventually caved in to political temptations, resulting in the birth of breakaway parties, many of which survive to this day.

With PBS’ return to the Barisan in 2002 and the end of an uneasy rotational system of chief ministers, Pairin, the MP for Keningau and state assemblyman for Tambunan, was named Deputy Chief Minister.

The reality, however, is that the office leaves Pairin with little clout, especially with his being overshadowed by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman of Umno.

Pairin, who is also state Minister of Infrastructure Development, arguably holds more stature as his community’s Huguan Siao or paramount chief, particularly come kaamatan (harvest festival) each May. He is also president of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association.

Hard-working MP

Today, Dr Maximus is the Minister of Science, Technology and Innnovation and much respected as the hardworking MP for Kota Marudu.

He takes great satisfaction in knowing that on a Friday, he can fly back in his suit (he sported a dapper grey suit complete with monogrammed shirt during the interview) but “change into a casual shirt, drive out for a bumpy hour into the villages and sleep with the people”. Dr Maximus is a keen golfer who enjoys family time on his deer farm in Tambunan.

Dr Maximus says PBS has matured in its 24 years. On his part, he pledges to “remain a loyal number two until Pairin hands over the baton to any one of the talented leaders”, adding that the party had a very peaceful system and that he would defend his deputy presidency.

He says Pairin has experienced at first hand the effects of party hopping and has been a great advocate of instituting anti-hopping laws into state and federal constitutions.

Dr Maximus’ advice to the recently outmanoeuvred Pakatan Rakyat in Perak is “to follow Sabah’s example”.

“When we did not have the numbers (like the PBS in 1994), Pairin realised we had to concede to Umno. It gave us time to recompose ourselves. In 1999 (elections), 17 of us won,” he adds.

A decade later, much political water has flowed under the bridge. Despite the strong showing by Sabah politicians during the March Umno general assembly, there is no expectation that ethnic Sabahans of non-Malay stock would rise to the top of the state government.

Experience has made Dr Maximus a realist. Unlike two decades ago, when Kadazan-Dusuns spoke passionately of holding the post of Chief Minister in their own land, he himself harbours no such ambitions today.

“My brother was a moderate, a nationalist. He always reminded me that Malaysia is a permanent marriage. We can only look forward. there is no looking back,” he says.

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