Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sindurang Bulakang

In search of Simon [Sindurang Bulakang]: a pioneer defender of Kadazan rights in colonial North Borneo.
In 1910, the Dusun of Papar  engaged the services of an English lawyer to summon the North Borneo (Chartered) Company administration to answer to charges that the Company had erred in selling land owned by members of the community to the railway and to plantation estates, thus violating the rights of the people. The community also alleged that the estates which had sprung up in the area had violated the customs and traditions of the people by destroying the graveyards of the community and scattering the remains of the dead. The action to sue the Company Government was the culmination of almost three years of unceasing and untiring efforts by Dusun leaders to champion the community's rights. The outcome of the lawsuit, however, was rather mixed. The Judicial Commissioner ruled that the government and the estates had erred in encroaching into some of the Dusun-owned lands, and they were asked to compensate those who had suffered losses. However, in its entirety, the ruling did not favor the community, as the Government and the estates were asked to compensate the Dusun according to the price that a Dusun would sell to another Dusun; they were not asked to return the land they had taken. Not happy with the ruling, the Dusun and their English lawyer intended to appeal, but were prevented from doing so by a series of measures introduced by the government aimed at discouraging the appeal. The matter dragged on for another ten years before a Parliamentary Paper in 1920 more or less absolved the Government from responsibility except for several matters deemed to be related to the case. However, by 1920, interests in the case had waned and many of the Dusuns who had fought for their rights were already of advanced age and the matter was allowed to slowly fade away, so much so that little could be recalled by the community with regard to the case. In a sense, the case was totally forgotten by the community.
source : North Borneo History


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