Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Oath Stone Moves to Keningau Warisan Museum

The relocation ceremony of the Keningau Oath Stone or Batu Sumpah was led by bobolian (shaman) Muri Gulim (3rd right) at Keningau, Sabah, September 9, 2018. Bernama pic

The historical artifact known as the Keningau Oath Stone or Batu Sumpah, steeped in the Kadazandusun and Murut customs, was finally moved from the Keningau district secretariat office to the Keningau Warisan Museum. 

The ceremony was officiated by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister’s political secretary Raymond Ahuar. 

The Oath Stone is of historical importance, not only for Keningau and Sabah – but Malaysia as a whole as its existence is closely related to the formation of Malaysia. 

It carries the agreement that the demands of Sabahan natives were consented to by the Federal Government, in exchange for their support for the formation of Malaysia on September 16,1963. 

This was because the interior natives led by OKK Sedomon were against the idea of Malaysia even after a year of its formation. 

Then first appointed Chief Minister Donald (later Fuad) Stephens despatched the Resident of Keningau, Richard Lind to find out how they can be convinced to support newly-formed Malaysia. 

The natives said they do not subscribe to any written agreement that could be discarded into the bin by future leaders but only the erection of a stone with three of the 20-Point demands etched into it, namely religious freedom, respect for native laws and adat and for lands to come under State jurisdiction. 

A suitable boulder from the Pegalan river was found and extracted and a plaque with the three guarantees were affixed. 

Its unveiling on August 31, 1964 was also symbolic because that was the day in which the original date for the formation of Malaysia was supposed to take place the year earlier until delayed by Indonesian and Philippine protests, both of which had been against the two Borneo states joining Malaya and become the new Malaysia. 

Even today, for Sabahans, the Keningau Batu Sumpah serves to not only assure but remind them that their rights to religious freedom, land, culture and customs are fully guaranteed.

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