At a meeting of ‘Jawatankuasa Pakar Rujuk Bahasa Kadazandusun’ held on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at Kota Kinabalu, the Beginner’s Kadazandusun Dictionary authored by Rita Lasimbang of Kadazandusun Language Foundation, was tabled for discussion.
As a member of the Committee I took the opportunity to propose a correction on page 14 of the Dictionary wherein the term ‘Kadazandusun’ is printed and classified as one of the ethnic races in the Dictionary. The two indigenous ethnic races of ‘Kadazan’ and ‘Dusun’ have been conspicuously omitted, meaning, they are not found in Sabah.
Being a Kadazan, I felt sad and took this opportunity to make the correction to include both ‘Kadazan’ and ‘Dusun’ races to replace the term ‘Kadazandusun’.
As we are all aware, Dictionary is a book of reference and a source of information to the readers and end users. And if we allow this glaring mistake to remain uncorrected it would be taken at face value as the truth. The readers, learners or end users of the Dictionary are misled to believe that there are no such ethnic races of ‘Kadazan’ or ‘Dusun’.
My proposal to correct the anomaly was met with objection from two Kadazan people. I find it absurd and was dumbfounded when they defended the term ‘Kadazandusun’ to remain intact as a race.
When posed with a question as to which race they belong to, given the fact that ‘Kadazandusun’ is not a race, they were silent for a moment. One of them, however, admitted that his race as registered in his birth certificate is ‘Kadazan’. As a fellow Kadazan, I felt dishonoured when he denied his own racial identity.
He gave his unqualified argument that the term ‘Kadazandusun’ will evolve slowly through the passage of time and thus will eventually be accepted or adopted as a race. I totally disagreed with his conjecture in this respect.
I would like to quote the late Tun Fuad Stephen’s statement which appeared in the Kinabalu Sunday Times on February 19, 1967 and reprinted in the Daily Express on Sunday, March 22, 2009:
“Another thing is the question of Kadazan and Dusun. The important thing is that we are one people; in our great desire to unite people in Colonial days some of us went to extremes and tried to force others to accept one name, Kadazan.
“This has only caused misunderstanding and even mistrust among some of us.
“We are more matured now and see clearly that the name should be left to us to choose, if we prefer to be called Kadazans, that is what we are and if we prefer to be called Dusuns that is what we should be remembering always that whatever name we prefer to go by, we are the same people.”
"Tun Fuad’s statement has been the hallmark and the guiding principle that KSS has been elucidating in its attempt to dispel the term ‘Kadazandusun’ to connote as a race," Datuk Marcel added.
It is beyond anybody’s comprehension that ‘Kadazandusun’ would eventually evolve as a race at the expense of ‘Kadazan’ and ‘Dusun’ races to disappear.
We may think this is absurd but it will disappear eventually if we leave it unchecked. How can we be so irresponsible as to delete the very existence of our own ethnic races? In fact we have now learnt that the person, who objected to my proposal, has been one of the initiators of the term ‘Kadazandusun’, and hence he has therefore vehemently defended the said term in the Dictionary.
As a Life Member of Kadazan Society Sabah of which I am the Deputy President, will strongly defend the existence of my ethnic race. In no way will I allow my Kadazan race be erased or deleted. It is my ethnic identity and I am proud to be identified as such.
It would be interesting to know how the Dusun community feels about their ethnic race being erased. Are they prepared to loose their own identity?
By right, we should all be defending and preserving our own identities and should not be easily influenced by people who may have their own personal agendas to suit their ends.
I believe many people have read the Beginner’s Kadazandusun Dictionary but none have commented it deserves. If we do not correct the anomaly now it would mean that we are accepting and condoning the incorrect term ‘Kadazandusun’ as an indigenous race in Sabah. If this is not corrected now then the Kadazans and Dusuns will eventually loose their identities. These two indigenous ethnic races are endangered of being wiped out from the face of the earth!
It is for this reason that I have to bring this issue out in the open for debate on why we should discontinue the use of the term ‘Kadazandusun’ as an ethnic race.
As what Tan Sri Herman Luping has written in his book titled “THE KADAZANDUSUN”, it is only a tag line to refer the Kadazans and Dusuns as a group. On the same token the tag line for Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese, etc, is Chinese and not as an ethnic race.
Even YB Datuk Masidi Manjun who is a Dusun from Ranau, has concurred with the statement made by KSS President that the term ‘Kadazandusun’ is not a race. “The term ‘Kadazandusun’ or ‘KDM’ is only for political grouping”, Datuk Masidi said.
Datuk Seri Panglima Bongkos Malakun, the Deputy President of KDCA also said, “The term ‘Kadazandusun’ is not an indigenous ethnic race per se in Sabah.”
“We should either be Kadazan or Dusun depending on one’s own preference. We should respect those who wish to be known as Dusun just as we expect others to respect our preference to be known as Kadazan,” Malakun added.
Since race is a sensitive issue we, the Kadazan and Dusun peoples, should debate on this matter to seriously defend our respective races, while the term ‘Kadazandusun’ should only be used as a tag line to identify both the Kadazans and Dusuns as a group of people.
You are encouraged to use this forum to write your comments, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sylvester J. Disimon
Kadazan Society Sabah.