Takkan Lari Gunung Dikejar, Hilang Kabut Nampaklah Dia

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Chrishandra Sebastiampillai

*Malay proverb: A mountain that is chased won’t run, when the fog clears it will be seen. Don’t rush to chase a certainty.

It all started in Kampung Kiau in 1851 when two local Kadazan-Dusun men, Gunting Lagadan of Bundu Tuhan and Lemaing of Kg. Kiau, led Sir Hugh Low on a nine-day trek up Gunung Kinabalu. Years later, the summit of the mountain would be named for the colonial administrator and an industry of climbers would follow; providing a livelihood for generations of Kadazan-Dusun men and women, working as mountain guides and porters. The sight of tiny women skipping agilely along the trail, in rain or shine, with gas tanks strapped to their backs and wearing cheap rubber slippers are a common and mind-boggling sight to the struggling climber. As a child, I lived briefly and happily in Sabah for a time while my father was posted to a government department in Kota Kinabalu. And even in the short time I was in Kundasang, I experienced a minor earthquake while staying in Kinabalu Park.

Continue reading “Takkan Lari Gunung Dikejar, Hilang Kabut Nampaklah Dia”


Dusun Women’s Traditional Costumes: Then And Now

Words by Yeong Hui Min
Photos by Yeong Hui Min

**Please note that terms used are in the Dusun language. Some items are named differently in other native languages.

Girls costumes groupA group of Dusun girls in traditional costumes of different tribes posing in a group photo

Continue reading “Dusun Women’s Traditional Costumes: Then And Now”

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day – The Malaysian Borneo Way

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

Pesta Keaamatan. A term that perhaps rings a (school) bell to most if not all who had endured attended the Malaysian education system, having emblazoned on several school textbooks. This festivity is generally told and portrayed as an annual celebration among the Kadazandusuns in the state of Sabah that lasts for the entire month of May, culminating with a state public holiday on the 30th and 31st May. But what then makes this fascinating observance truly one of its kind beyond a few extra days off the calendar? With that the ISO Sabah team, unexpectedly along with much excitement, set forth to one such Keaamatan festival held in Kampung Kiau Nuluh (the celebration was held later than the conventional date as the organiser of this festival, the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Gompito, decided on the date as then) in search of discovering its underlying significance while experiencing its unique entirety first-hand. Continue reading “Celebrating Thanksgiving Day – The Malaysian Borneo Way”

Lunch at Restoran Tanjung Puteri

Words by Franklin Tan
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha

Going to a place that is unfamiliar to you would almost always be a slightly uncomfortable situation. Unfamiliar food, faces, culture, language, etc. However the one thing that all individuals would understand would be kindness, and that’s where Queenie comes into the picture and her lovely restaurant, the Tanjung Puteri Restaurant.

DSC_0449Entrance to Tanjung Puteri

Continue reading “Lunch at Restoran Tanjung Puteri”

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”