Friday, 12 June 2015

A message from a Canadian to all Sabahan regarding the Earthquake tragedy: Siou poh kumaa tulun Sabah

I am deeply saddened by the events that have recently transpired in Sabah, for a number of reasons.

First, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims of the earthquake. My deepest condolences. To the rescuers, we honour you.

I am fortunate enough to have been allowed to climb Mount Kinabalu, and I will always remember the welcoming porters who tolerate tourists climbing her with kindness and hospitality. I admire the Dusun women who carry giant tubs of water up the mountain to the waypoint, Laban Rata (wearing only sandals!).

The people of Sabah are some of the gentlest people I have ever had the fortune to know. Who would have thought I would meet and marry a Kadazandusun from Tambunan! I am blessed to be part of such a beautiful family. I am in awe of my wife’s spiritual connection to Nature, something that the Western world seems to have lost a long time ago.

Sabahans are compassionate people with a warrior spirit, and have a rich indigenous tradition. Mount Kinabalu is not 'just a mountain'. It holds a place of deep significance, particularly to the natives. They do not ask much of tourists - they know that most will make little or no attempt to learn their language. They tolerate rudeness with a smile and only ask that tourists show some respect to their culture and traditions.

When I found out that Canadians were involved in the recent 'strip down' on the mountain (on May 30 no less--- they are likely blissfully ignorant of the significance of doing this on Kaamatan), I only hoped that they were contrite, and made immediate, public apologies. When I found out that they swore at the porters, and urinated on the mountain, I was infuriated. Canadians have worked hard to build up a good reputation as tourists and travelers, and these few have managed to soil our reputation in the eyes of many Sabahans, perhaps forever. They have continued to show disrespect and are doing more damage to the reputation of Canada than they likely know. When Sabahans say that their lewd behaviour is what caused the earthquake, this may sound 'ridiculous' to some. But it is their belief and we need to respect it.

I hope that the people of Sabah realise that not all Canadians are ignorant. I hope that the people responsible for the disrepectful behaviour are punished to the fullest extent of the law. They should be fined or jailed, and asked to perform community service. Although this will not erase what they have done, hopefully it will make them realize how seriously they have offended one of the last guardians of the natural world as we know it. Siou poh kumaa tulun Sabah.

Written by Chris Quarrie with Michelle Kiob


Hi Chris. Thanks for understanding our cultural stand on this issue. Feel good to know you were married to a Tambunan girl where I am also from. I have friends from Sabah who are married or work in Canada. I m sure they may be able to share with our Canadian friends over there some of our cultural backgrounds esp in regards to the recent development that affected some Canadians arising from the Kinabalu issue. Truely it was an unfortunate incidents and I hope it will not affect the good relations of the people of both countries. Thanks again. From me, Paul Tom Imbayan.

Thank you for a beautiful sharing of your mountain climbing experience. To most people, what WE believed in is just animisme. But for us, it's not animisme nor just a folk tales but a belief that will always live in the lives of all Sabahan (KDM). Mount Kinabalu is a a sacred place for us. I am a Catholic but I believe in the spirit of nature. Hence, nature should be respected. Nature does not need us but we need nature. My heart breaks every time I read about the people who died on the mountain because of the irresponsible people. Their ignorance caused the lives of innocent people that fatal day. To add insult to injury, Emil also used 'shithole' to describe our town. However, not all westerns are like them but their behaviour did leave a scar. Thanks.

Hi Chris,
My husband (Canadian) and I (Sarawakian) felt exactly the same with what you’ve written even though personally we yet to have the opportunity to climb the mountain, may be never will after the scary and still on-going minor tremors. During last 1st earthquake, we are 1000s feet high on our flight from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu via Bintulu to attend my eldest brother’s son wedding on June 6, 2015. He married a beautiful bride of Kadazan Dusun. Same to his father married his mother ie Sino-Kadazan. Thanks GOD the wedding went on smoothly both in church and also the banquet at the hotel in Karamunsing. We try to avoid talking about it despite deep inside our hearts we are so worry. And here we are back in Australia where we currently resides, keeping our eyes and ears open to latest update on Mount Kinabalu’s tremors. Our hearts goes to the people of Sabah especially those families involved in that tragic incident. God bless!

I am very please and impress with your message to the people of Sabah , Malaysia as a whole.
I am a Sarawakian, we treat Sabahan as close Borneon, Malaysian brethen...what this recalcitrant and disrespectful emil have insulted us is over the limit of tolerance from even the gentlest people on earth can take..may the devil be with him to be curse in hell.
We always have high respect to Canadian, i have two siblings becoming citizen of Canada since 1970's, both of them were so proud to be Canadian..they still love Malaysia as much and they were very hurt and sorry by what the moron emil has create and caused. We hope most Canadian
will have the same feelings like yours...
Thank you

I respect such a thoughtful of you. In nation of ourselves such words never cross in our mind. Its beautiful to receive a thoughtful words from a person who live in a different country. Your word of encouragement reduce our bitterness - thanks a lot... I'm Sabahan

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