Puan Anne – The Heart of PACOS

Words by Hamza Delbar
Photos by Hamza Delbar

When the ISO Sabah team arrived at the PACOS Trust office in the village of Taman Flash Gordon, a charming lady who was very excited about our visit welcomed the team. Her name is Puan Anne Lasimbang and she is the executive director of PACOS Trust which is an NGO that is dedicated towards supporting the indigenous communities in Sabah. While introducing herself to the ISO Sabah team, she mentioned that she was a psychology student; and that intrigued me as I wondered what made her chose a path so far away from her educational background. So I decided to sit down with her to understand more and she said, “When I was young, I wanted to start a big business and be successful but my education also opened my eyes in a way I could understand the injustice that was happening in Sabah and I decided to do something about it”. However, she mentioned PACOS Trust does feel like a business with all the people she managed, including the school at the headquarters, the farm which is also located within the headquarters grounds and various other economic projects. “I see myself as a social entrepreneur and it gives me satisfaction to empower people and helping them achieve good things in life,” she said with a smile on her face. Continue reading “Puan Anne – The Heart of PACOS”


The Legal Difficulty of Sabahan Indigenous Groups to Claim Customary Territory

Words by Norman Harsono
Photos by Nanna Dybdal and Yeo Li-Sha

Many indigenous people in Sabah have lost their customary territory – land they’ve inhabited and utilised for generations – because they do not hold the necessary land titles. They lose their lands to corporate land grabs, state development, and population growth. This jeopardises the wellbeing if not survival of these indigenous groups as these lands are also their food source, water source, religious site, and cultural anchor.

Nasiri Sabiah has worked for the indigenous rights advocacy group, Partners of Community Organisation (PACOS), for ten years. He explains that what frequently happens is, as Sabah develops, indigenous groups may unexpectedly encounter a company or the government enter their customary land. Continue reading “The Legal Difficulty of Sabahan Indigenous Groups to Claim Customary Territory”

Of Guides, Hope, and Sabah

Words by Mohd Fadzrin
Photo by Yeong Hui Min

Of all the memories, experiences, feelings, and moments we’ve experienced in the visits we made, it is easy to forget of the very people that helped us unlock those encounters. We may have our own stories but let’s not forget the stories these guides have about their lives.

Let’s talk about their stories instead.

Continue reading “Of Guides, Hope, and Sabah”

Determination In The Name Of Education

Words by Aw Yuong Tuck
Photos by Aw Yuong Tuck

Kampung Kipouvo is a village that is located 15 kilometres away from Kota Kinabalu and had their first preschool since 1993. The first preschool in Kg. Kipouvo is one of the several Community Learning Centres (CLC); an initiative established by the Partners of Community Organisation (PACOS) Trust. This preschool was spearheaded by Hilda Pius, a local villager who is also currently working with PACOS Trust. Before the school was founded, villagers in Kg. Kipouvo only receive formal education after the age of seven. Most villagers did not attend school and many of them were practising homeschooling. Plans for early education in Kg. Kipouvo were stagnant because of the effort needed to commute in and out of the village. Before the asphalt was constructed, the villagers can only enter the village by using four-wheel drives. The roads were developed in 2010 due to the influence of local politics. Continue reading “Determination In The Name Of Education”

Kampung Kipouvo

Words by Norman Harsono
Photos by Norman Harsono

Hilda Pius is a woman of Dusun ethnicity, who works at Partners of Community Organisations Trust. It is an indigenous rights advocacy group, members of Kumpulan Wanita – a local women’s organisation, and a native of Kipouvo village.

She is living in Kampung Kipouvo and collecting stories about how the village got its name, a story passed down by word of mouth. The story goes that there once was a drought in the village that left many villagers sick. But then, one day, a woman went down to the river, cut down a wild banana tree and realised that the trunk contained drinkable water. She then instructed the villagers to cut down all the banana trees in the area and use the water, thereby saving the village. In the Kadazan language, ‘Ki’ means ‘there are’ and ‘Pouvo’ is the local name for such a tree. Hence, “kipouvo”, meaning “there are banana trees”, commemorating the trees that saved the villagers. Continue reading “Kampung Kipouvo”

Tagal: For the Future Generation

Words by Franklin Tan
Photos by Yeong Hui Min

In history classes, those that are of Malaysian descent had always been taught on the many indigenous people that had and continue to live in the country, that could range from the Kadazandusun people to the Penan people. As noble an effort this was, the history classes had merely scratched the surface on just how significant and important the cultures of these people were. Cultures such as the one by the Kadazandusun would stress on a particular culture and tradition that they would like to call tagal. Continue reading “Tagal: For the Future Generation”

Kivatu Nature Farm: Of Nature’s Delight

Words by Nanna Dybdal
Photos by Hamza Delbar & Nanna Dybdal

Standing at the entrance to the Kivatu Nature Farm (KNF), we were greeted and warmly welcomed by Irene, who at the same time encouraged us to put on mosquito repellent, as the insect is supposedly plentiful within the garden and farm area. As she passed around the bottle of yellow oil, Irene explained how it was made using lemongrass from the farm.

KNF started in 2008, drawing on inspiration from a similar project in Hong Kong, and is located at PACOS Trust headquarters. Their focus is on organic and sustainable procedures and products, which is very visible throughout the farm. KNF employ traditional methods and make the best use of natural resources within the different zones that the farm includes, while also functioning as a training centre for other community farmers. Further, they sell supplies and equipment, thus the place is also used as a trading centre and will even help community farmers to sell their products if they are struggling to. Finally, KNF contribute by imparting the knowledge of herbs, spices and general flora among the children at one of the Community Learning Centres – also located at the headquarters.

Continue reading “Kivatu Nature Farm: Of Nature’s Delight”

CLC: Raising Generations For Cultural Preservation and Future Cultivation

Words by Janice Ng
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Yeong Hui Min

During our informative session with Partners of Community Organisations in Sabah (PACOS) Trust, executive director Puan Anne Lasimbang had stressed on the importance of providing quality education for the indigenous community; accrediting it as the organisation’s most effective approach in empowering them to this day. This statement was of strong conviction and resonated deeply with this author. Truly, as the late Nelson Mandela once said, education is the most powerful, life-changing weapon any individual can wield. Bearing frontline prominence of this initiative is the establishment of Community Learning Centres (CLC). This project was instigated by the organisation in 1993 with the purpose to introduce community kindergartens to villages which do not have preschools of their own. When early childhood education begun in primary schools later in 2009, CLCs slightly shifted their target group and catered to children below 4 years old. Continue reading “CLC: Raising Generations For Cultural Preservation and Future Cultivation”

PACOS Trust: At the Heart of Sabah

Words by Hamza Delbar
Photos by Hamza Delbar

Today, we had the immense pleasure of meeting with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that will be accompanying us throughout most of our journey in Sabah, especially in the rural areas.

DSC_0109Puan Anne, the executive director and Nasiri, a PACOS Trust employee welcoming us to the PACOS Trust headquarters

Continue reading “PACOS Trust: At the Heart of Sabah”