PART I: BORN TO THE WORLD
Born on 8th May 1964 at Kg "4 4" (now called "Nuntunan") Apin-Apin, Keningau. 4 4 means Mile 44, from Tenom to Jesselton. My parents, Dumbong Dimbak (d) and Lungkiying Sombihil. My father originated from Kg Tinompok Liwan, Tambunan whereas my mother from Kg Garas, also in Tambunan.
My parents have migrated to Telipok to worked in British Rubber Estate for few years before moving to Kg Langkawit, Batu 5, Papar. Then, could not settled in Langkawit, they returned to Rubber Estate and lived in Kg Keliangau, Menggatal. Among their acquantances were the Mintows, Modulis, Sendeluns etc. Still could not settled in Menggatal, they left everything to move to Keningau. Finally, they settled down in Kg Apin-Apin. There I was born.
I was born special. First, I was concieved after my mother and father "prayed" to Kinorohingan during a moon eclipse. You see, before me there were 6 siblings. The eldest is my brother, Ongul, then followed by 5 girls, Gorodot, Gurisah, Lupinah, Yulin, Yulipah. Felt short of boy, my parents prayed hard. When I was born, the bidan kampung delivered me, not easy cos I was "sonsang", kind of legs first. My mother fought for her life, as well as mine. During that day, there was a neighbour passed away. To their beliefs, these two events whould not happen at the same time. Anyway, fated, that was the story. Many believed that with that kind of background I should possesses certain "power", "magic" or supernatural insticts. As a kid, I always get invited to cure people who were stung by insects, milipede etc. They compensated me with certain payments, normally 20 cent coin.
As a kid, I was empowered on the following kerja kampungs:
(i) Mongoi sagou
(ii) Mongoi suduwon
(iii) Mongoi tabang (mostly mindagus om mongomot)
(iv) Tarik sikarap om mongogiling gata
(v) Pokotop karabau
My sports rekreations:
(ii) Main dingau-dingau
(iii) mimpodsu bawang
(iv) main guli
(v) main gata
(vi) Mibabak linsou gata
(vii) Main akan-akan
(viii) main gala etc.
(i) Sorual om rasuk noruhak-ruhak
(ii) Ngingil takapal om nogi "tomou langou".
(iii) rasuk nokogipil
(iv) Aiso taakan-akan taakanon mantad kadai.
(v) Aiso tusin mongoi sikul
(i) Ogumu molohing orohian mintong dogo.
(ii) Ogumu tanak tondu ih "secret admirer".
(iii) Glamour id kampung (sabab asaru kaanu "No. 1" id sikul, otiil, haro leadership quality, abarani sumaap tanak suai dit angajajal, om "dukun kampung" nogi, using alternative medicine.
Little bit about my father. He was illiterate, do not know even to write his name. He always "sign" with his thumbprint. Very good hunter, u name it, no animal found in Borneo that ne never caught/hunted. He had a GECO 5130 short gun, he obtained from the British Government in 1960 in Menggatal with the help of OKK Laiman Diki. He was very strict, no nonsense. Although illiterate, he could read watch very well. He even know about the "haribulan Melayu", where he will use to guide him in his hunting trips. My father knew all the surroundings of Trus Madi, the Salt Trail from tambunan to Inanam, Kosigui etc. He ever worked as a mandur in the Bristish Rubber Estate for few years and received commendable appraisals from the colonial masters.
During the Japanese occupation, he worked for the Japanese occupiers (perhaps,just to excape persecution). He worked to carry goods, rice etc for the japanese from Keningau to japanese office in Kg Patau, Tambunan. later, he worked as a forced labour to construct the old Tg Aru railway station and the Airport. He was never paid or compensated by the japanese soldiers. (I hope the Japanese Government would read this blog about my father's free service).
My father travelled a lot. Of course, by foot. He ever been to Kg Kiau, Kota Marudu, Inanam, Donggongon, Likas, Papar, Tenom etc and made a lot of friends along the way. In Inanam, he was a friend to the Mojimbuns family, in Menggatal to the Tiboks and Sendeluns families, in Penampang to the Siambuns family. In Keningau, he was a well-known servant to the Andulags.
At the age of 65, my father climbed Mt Kinabalu, when the mountain was 14, 455 ft high. He succumbed to lung cancer in 2001, although he fought for it soon after he was diagnosed to suffer "advance Stage" of lung cancer. He didn't smoke. I guess he got the lung cancer when he was involved in putting off a massive bush fire that was threatening our rubber plantation in Kg Mararagang, Apin-Apin, Keningau in 1998/99. He must have inhaled a lot of smoke. he died as "Petrus Dumbong Dimbak" on 25 May 2001, as he was baptised with the name "Petrus" (The Rock).
PART II: EDUCATION BACKGROUND
I attended my early education, first at St James Primary School, Apin-Apin, Keningau, at the age of 5. I attended Year 1. But one friend, by the name of Lindung, always disturb and intimade me, and threatened to beat me if I come to school. This troubled me until I decided to move to other school, i.e SRK Apin-Apin, Keningau. When I met the Guru Besar, Allion Ganggal, he adviced me to go back and wait until I reach 6 before coming to school. This disappointed me quite a lot. It meant I have to stay in Kg for at least one year.
I reluctantly accepted the fate, and I only registered at SRK Apin-Apin in 1971. During the exam in my Year 1, which was only one paper, Kira-Kira (Mathematics), I got 98%, and got the No.1 spot in Class. With the result, I was made Class Monitor, literally meaning I have to help the teachers to "monitor" the behavior of my classmates. Hee..Hee, it was a hell interesting job! Some of the classmates who went againts me, got punished when I jotted and submitted their names to one "Uztaz" whenever they make noise (which is almost every seconds).
Then I move to Primary 2, always got No.1 in the exams. Same thing happened in Primary 3, Still No.1 and Class Monitor. For this achievement, my English teacher Mr Justin Angian Andulag, instructed me to sit for Primary 4's English Exam. It was about "present tense" and "past tense". The primary 4 students taught me to add "ed" to every verb, which I did exactly. Result, I got 80%, and only second to Veronica Sumil who got 88%. Based on this performance, the next year, I was promoted to Primary Six, leaping Primary 5. It was agood feeling as I was hailed and praised by many people. It was also a good news to my ex-classmates who now can claim the No.1 spot in class. The bad news were, I missed the lessons in primary 5, which eventually cost me for my Primary 6 Exam. I had been identified as a prospect for Yayasan Sabah sponsorship to go to Semenanjung Malaysia to further studies. Instead, I only managed to get 56%, and that was the 'worst" result I ever got. Obviously, I did not make it to Semenanjung. In the following year, my ex-classmates who went through the normal class progression, managed to get above 70% in their Primary 6 exam and sent to Semenanjung.
Quitely, I enrolled in SMK Bingkor, the nearest secondary school. The school has no hostel. It is more than 15 miles away from Kg Nuntunan Apin-Apin, gravel road with almot no public transport. No choice, I had to look for foster family to stay with. Together with the late Jasbin Tunjam, Johnny and Jius from Kg Merampong, we stayed with Uncle Najir in Kg Sandapak, Bingkor. We attended afternoon class. Before we leave for school at 11, we had to help Najir's familty to harvest their paddy, and sometimes to pluck the "limau manis" to be sold in school. Every morning, I will follow Najir to go and inspect his "rawai" along the Bingkor irrigation, and most of the time, we'd get "jalaks". I will sell the limau manis, and on average I'll get about RM20 per school day. With it, I'll get 0.20 cents commission. I was in SMK Bingkor for barely a month. Reasons - we were forced by circumstances to leave Najir's house. So, with no other places to go, I had to move to SM Ken Hwa, Keningau. I stayed at Barrack, Balai Polis Keningau with my Bro in law, Shem Donggot and the family. From there, I go to school walking everyday. The distance is about three miles, going up hill. I was in Ken Hwa for 3 years, Form 1 to Form 3.
I experienced a number of things in Ken Hwa, and I guess I grew up real quick when I was there. Examples:
(i) At the age of 11, when I was in Form 1, I joined the Boys Scout, and we organized an expedition to go up the Crocker range, along the Kimanis Road. It was about 16 miles to reach the summit, where you could see the South China Sea. I really enjoyed it because that was the first time I walked for 16 miles x 2, which is about 32 miles, to and fro. Second, it was the first time a saw sea. Third, we cooked our own food. Not too bad for an 11 year old boy, isn't it.
(ii) I stayed in hostel. It was not really a hostel, but a house which was converted into a hostel. I slept on a double-decker bed. Since we were poor, I could not afford a matress and proper pillow. I had to sleep on wooden bed, with just a mat. But then, I learned how to cook my own food. Simple food for a simple boy. I was poor but I am proud with what I have experienced.
(iii) I prepared "chinese tea" for the Ken Hwa teachers every morning. I am proud to have been given the trust, and to have served my teachers voluntarily at that tender age. I was a Chinese tea boy for the Ken Hwa teachers for more than 2 years.
(iv) I also learned how to survive and earn income on my own. I had a friend, indeed a very good friend, in the person of Yap Yun Fook who taught me how to do business. He encouraged us to help him rear chicken, ducks at the hostel backyard, preserve salted egg, cut the grass around Ken Hwa school, repair the school fence with a small amount of payment from the School Management. But then, I was more than happy, because each one of us would earn not less than RM5.00 per week. The entreprenuerial Ah Fook eventually become as what kind of person he is now, a millionaire, and successful oil palm planter, cow breeder, rice farmer etc. (Note: Ah Fook, if you ever read this blog, please remember that I really salute and admire you!)
There were sad stories when I was in Ken Hwa. Among them;
(i) I had to experience one thing, (that I am so ashamed of sharing with all of you) that has taught me that life of of the poor are so tough. I know how to be poor.
(ii) In my SRP exam, i fell sick. There were two bisuls in my bum. I could not sit properly through the exam. Still I managed to pass, albeit not with a good result.
(iii) To have proper breakfast with kueh or noodles, I had to help my friend to make his coffee and go and buy kueh or mee for him at the canteen. Then, he'll belanja me.
(iv) When I was in Form 1, the English teacher notice that I was quite smart and have good command of English. She then gave me a topic, and prensent myself in front of school assembly. My other teacher, Mior Shamsuddin Hashim from Parit, Perak prepared the script for me to by hard. Unfortnately, I could not rise to the occasion. I didn't remember a thing, and just standing there speechless. The most embarrasing moment, ah!
During the holiday, while waiting for my SRP results, I tried my skill to tap rubber. My mother prepared all the tools, and I go and tap the rubber myself. Normally, I start at 6.00am, and collect the latex at 10.00, and process them into rubber sheets. After one month, I managed to get RM150.00. The price of rubber then was about RM0.50 per kilogram (Note: at the moment, the price of the latex is about RM5.00/kg; and the sheet RM3.00/kg). I was so happy to have acumulated RM150.00.
With a Grade A in SRP, I had the reason to go somewhere. I left for SMJK Shan Tao, Kota Kinabalu for my Form 4. More life and more experiences there. This is the first time, I come to KK to do serious business, and to settle for good. First time, in 1978, I followed my brother who drived his Land Cruiser Short Base SA3284, to go makan angin in Kota Kinabalu. In KK, I stayed with my sister Lyne Dumbong. She was renting with her four other girl friends in Kg Air, Kota Kinabalu. Our room was overlooking the Kg Air's Pasar Malam. Every night, I could hardly concentrate in my studies as the songs were played by the musics dealers. I still rem,eber the top local hit at that time was "Jambatan Tamparuli" by Justin Lusah.
In Shan Tao, I was enrolled in Form 4A1. There were only F4 classes then, F4A1, F4A2, F4 Science. At that time, Shan tao was perceived by many as the "dumping school", as there were many bad hats. No day will pass without you seeing students fighting with each other. I was fortunate. I was considered by many as "harmless", due to my physical size and friendliness. There were two major groups in Shan Tao then, the "good boys" and the "bad boys". They don't see eye to eye, and always fighting. I was in between, I could mix with the members of both groups.
Other interesting experiences when I was in Shan Tao. At that time, the craze was on the Sabah football team. Sabah team was one of the strongest in malaysia Cup. Top players like James Wong, Hassan sani were fantastics! Other prominent players in the league were Mokthar Dahari, Soh Chin Aun, Aramugam etc. Everytime there was a match at Likas Sports Complex, we'll make sure that we don't miss a thing. But then money is always a problem. the tickets were priced RM10 and RM3. Even the RM3, we couldn't afford. But then , we were creative and full of strategies. Among the strategies employed to get in were, (i) gate crash; (2) Climb the fence; (3) plead with the gate keeper; (iv) asked others to "belanja"; and (i) wait until the first half to get in for free. Every weekends were spent to the fullest. Sometimes we go to play roller skate at Tg Aru Beach, sometimes we went to see the "Mari Ke Pesta" by RTM at Prince Philip Park, and sometimes we go see movie, mostly Kung Fu movies.
I was in Shan Tao for two (2) years, F4 and F5. My best friends were Kehbon Jusksuan @Ng Hock Lai, Ng Tung Chee, Hillary Lee (Asai), Felix Anam Palian, Norton Kia, Abin Thasius, Robert Soh, Englebert, Martin Foo etc. This was the place where I picked up some Mandarin and Hakka words. Of course, I was taught with all the dirty words first.
I felt lucky become I managed to get through with my SPM. I got Grade 2. My other friends were not lucky enough. I was offered to continue my Form Six at All Saints, Likas or SM La Salle. However, I could not go to either of the schools as I have no place to stay in KK. My sister had moved somewhere.
Left with no choice, my brother helped me to get a place in SMK Majakir, Papar as the school has hostel. I was in Majakir for two years. There, I learned a number of things as well. In the hostel, I finally able to sleep on a very thick mattress, and snoor accordingly. I also became one of the school prefects. We were the seniors in SMK Majakir, and, therefore enjoyed the glamourous life. My best friends were Andreas Totu, now with the title "Dr", and attached to School of Knowledge Promotion, Universiti Malaysia Sabah as a Deputy Dean; Madelin Emik, a school teacher and a very good badminton and tennis player; Denis Jonnes Sading. We wre definetely naughty, but then we had good followers among the juniors. We were also not short of "secret admirers". Then we sat for the Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran malaysia (STPM), which was introduced for the first time in 1981. Results? Some of us passed the exam. Andreas went to USM, and Dennis and I went to UKM. Then we went on our own ways for a number of years. Lately, however, we are back in the same fold and interacting with each other frequently.
In UKM Bangi, selangor I was enrolled in the "FSKK" - Fakulti Sains Kemasyarakatan & Kemanusiaan. In my first three years, I took Political Science, Anthropology/Sociology and English Literature. In my Honours, I majored in Political Science. My thesis was entitled " Analysis of the Sabah Political Crisis 1985/86". Among my lecturers were Datuk Dr Ting Chew Peh (former Federal Minister(, Dr wan Hashim Wan Teh (now a Datuk and a YB), Professor Dr Hood Salleh, Professor Datuk Dr Zakaria Ahmad, Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Husain (now in UUM), Prof Dr Shamsul Amri Burhanuddin, Prof Dr P Ramasamy (now the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang) and few others. Among my colleagues who have made it is YB Loh Seng Kok, a former Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya, Supt Baljeet Singh (Chief Narcotic, Pahang). My life in UKM (1983-1987) was full of excitements and had taught me a lot of things. I befriended a number of Malays, Chinese and Indians as well as Sarawakians and fellow Sabahans.
PART III: WORKING LIFE
I graduated in May 1987, and straight joined the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Sabah as a Research Officer. I worked there until December 1989. I was involved in a number of research works. My coleagues then include YB Datuk Dr Maximus J Ongkili (now a Federal Minister), YB Datuk Wilfred M Tangau,Henrynus Amin (former MP), Datuk George Sangkin (former MP) etc.
In December 1989, I joined Yayasan Sabah as its Regional Manager for Keningau District. There I was involved in:
(i) Youth Enterpreneurial development Training Program;
(ii) Community empowerment;
(iii) Hostel management
(iv) Students Motivation
(v) Liaising with other District's head of departments;
(vi) Extension of Social Services.
(Note: To be continued)