KOTA KINABALU: A lawyer, who allegedly insulted the Unduk Ngadau, a native beauty pageant, by comparing it to cattle show, has agreed to pay a sogit (fine or compensation) of seven buffaloes after a deal was struck with local native leaders.
The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) had reached an agreement with lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph to resolve the issue of the latter’s insult to the ethnic Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus communities for his alleged insult during a court hearing in June for his client, Philip Among, who was charged with outraging the modesty of two women, including an Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Beauty Queen), participant during state-level Harvest Festival celebrations.
In a statement here Friday (Aug 13), KDCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said Jude has agreed to settle a “sogit” of seven buffaloes to the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus communities through the association within 14 days.
Jude was also required to publish a half-page public apology in a daily local newspaper of his choice, Jeffrey said.
“This agreement will be registered with the Native Court in Penampang. Both parties have agreed not to challenge the terms of the agreement in any existing court in Sabah.
“On behalf of KDCA and all the associations affiliated with us, we have agreed not to pursue legal action against Jude, and we consider this matter closed.
“Therefore, we are asking the whole Kadazandusun community to bury the hatchet and do what we have always done, which is to promote peace and reconciliation,” Jefffrey said after resolving the issue during a meeting with Jude and other native community leaders at the KDCA office in Penampang on Friday.
Kitingan explained that the resolution had the blessing of KDCA president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is the community’s Huguan Siou or paramount leader. Kitingan said Pairin did not want the issue to be dragged on.
The number of buffaloes for the fine is determined by the seven varieties of the KDMR customs and traditions.
The cost of a buffalo is about RM2,500 to RM3,000 per head.
“The importance of the public apology cannot be overstated. Although Jude has apologised to the Unduk Ngadau committee and the contestants, he had agreed to issue another public apology,” Kitingan said.
To ensure that this issue did not recur, Jeffrey stated that the Huguan Siou had directed the KDCA to erect an oath stone within the KDCA grounds listing the most important customs and traditions of the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus people.
Each village was also encouraged to erect their own oath stone or any permanent notice, listing down their customs and traditions, which must be respected by community members and outsiders who came into the village.
Jude, in addressing the KDCA committee, expressed his remorse for offending the native community, insisting it was never his intention to cause pain to anyone, least of all the native communities.
Following the decision and agreement, state level Unduk Ngadau committee chairperson Joanna Kitingan said women had always been held in the highest regard within the native communities.
“Because women play important roles, particularly in the spiritual realm, insulting women in our community is highly offensive. You have come to our land and enjoyed the fruits of our lands. It would be prudent to learn about our history and respect our customs,” she advised.