Monday September 17, 2012
Blog post gets ‘flap’ in the face
ONE MAN'S MEAT
By PHILIP GOLINGAI
Many from Malaysia’s multi-cultural society deem the demonisation of Sabah’s ‘sumazau’ dance a step or two too far as blog’s posting suffers a resounding backlash.
ON Thursday night, in a private room at a seafood restaurant in Petaling Jaya, about a dozen Sabahans were dancing the sumazau.
Their hands floated gracefully like a soaring bird to the hypnotic beat of Jimmy Palikat’s famous Kadazandusun song Tanak Kampung (Village Boy). The song was sung through a karaoke machine by Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
If you were an ignorant provocative blogger, you would think that the dancers were taking part in a devil-worshipping ceremony.
On Tuesday, Suara Pakatan Rakyat, a blog which claims to be pro-Pakatan Rakyat, alleged that the sumazau was a “tarian pemujaan” (worship dance).
In Malay, the blogger wrote: “Therefore it is not a surprise that many people criticised the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife – in a video recording – dancing the dance during a Hari Raya open house in Sri Perdana recently.”
The blogger posted a video showing Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor dancing the sumazau to the Anak Kampung (the Malay version of Palikat’s song). The blog posting also stated: “nampak bodoh saja mengepak-ngepak macam burung (looking stupid flapping like a bird).”
The blogger then went on condemning the dance, saying that the people in peninsular Malaysia were more modern and civilised and they did not need to flap like a bird.
Several police reports were lodged in Kota Kinabalu against the website, and the blogger has taken down the offensive posting.
“It is a derogatory comment,” said Dr Ongkili, who took a break from the dinner party he was hosting for KDCA Klang Valley committee members. “It is of political bad taste. It not only reflects the nonsensical mind of the person who posted it but also total ignorance of the sumazau.”
The sumazau, he said, was the Kadazandusuns’ expression of joy and appreciation of one another.
“It is danced when there is a celebration of any kind – a birth, homecoming or wedding.
“For example, tonight I’m having a Merdeka/Malaysia Day celebration with the KDCA Klang Valley members. And as a ‘ramai-ramai’ (merrymaking) we are dancing sumazau and singing karaoke,” he said.
“There’s nothing sinful about the sumazau. It has got nothing to do with worshiping the spirit of the padi (as alleged by the blogger).”
The Parti Bersatu Sabah deputy president and Science, Technology and Innovation Minister continued: “The blogger needs to go back to school (to learn about Kadazandusun culture). The comment is seditious to the Kadazandusun and bloggers have to careful not to despise other races as this country is rich in diversity.”
A few days earlier, Dr Ongkili received a flurry of messages on his Blackberry from Sabahans complaining about the posting.
“The title alone – ‘Tarian Sumazau Untuk Golongan Rendah Akhlak’ (sumazau dance for the retarded) – made me feel sick,” he recalled.
Dr Ongkili said the blogger thought he could score political points by “having a go at the PM, but it has backfired”.
On Facebook, Sabahans, especially the Kadazandusuns, have expressed anger against the blog.
Sabah PKR has received the brunt of it.
For example, James Kimin posted in Malay in Facebook: “To all the KDM (Kadazandu- sun Murut), please leave PKR in masses as a sign of protest. It is sad that there are still KDM who are giving their support to Anwar and PKR.”
To counter the negativity against his party in the social networking media, a Kadazandusun PKR member posted a photograph of party vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar doing the sumazau.
The party’s deputy secretary-general Darell Leiking said that in the past few days, people had been “hammering” on the issue.
The sumazau, said Leiking, a Kadazandusun, was unique to his community and “like any cultural dance from all other cultures, no one should have the audacity to criticise such a cultural dance.”
“Wherever I go, people are asking me about it. I have been doing the sumazau non-stop, and the good thing about this is I’m losing weight,” he quipped. “But seriously, I told them this is a cyberwar game as it is not a Pakatan blog.”
His denial echoes his president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s statement that the blog is not linked to Pakatan Rakyat.
However, Dr Ongkili said: “Clearly it is a Pakatan Rakyat blog but Pakatan has now distanced itself from the blog.”
After the interview, the Kota Marudu MP returned to his dinner party.
PBS vice-president and Kedamaian assemblyman Datuk Herbert Timbon Lagadan was singing a famous Kadazandusun song by Justin Lusah – Jambatan Do Tamparuli, and he joined those who were doing the sumazau.