Tug-of-war for leadership of Sabah NGO
The political spin on Sabah's Kadazan Dusun Murut Association Malaysia (KDM Malaysia) is threatening its continuity.KOTA KINABALU: A tussle for control of an Umno-linked non-governmental organisation said to have been set up to champion the interests of the indigenous Kadazandusun and Murut community is threatening to further divide it.
The prize is the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak-endorsed Kadazan Dusun Murut Association Malaysia (KDM Malaysia).
Businessmen Peter Anthony and John Ambrose are in a tug-of-war over who is its rightful leader.
Anthony has won the first and second rounds of the fight. His latest victory came after the High Court here upheld his appointment as its president following a challenge by Harry Ignatius Beatty, a member of the NGO who filed a suit seeking to declare his (Anthony’s) installation as null and void.
Justice Ravinthran N Paramaguru, in his judgment last month, allowed Anthony’s application to strike out Beatty’s writ of summons and statement of claim dated July 13 last year.
Beatty had argued in his suit that Anthony’s appointment which was made during the KDM Malaysia extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on March 28 last year was unlawful and that Ambrose, the founder of the association, was still the lawful and rightful president.
An earlier attempt to oust Anthony from the post was also thwarted by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) who declared in a letter dated Aug 7 last year that the association’s EGM and Annual General Meeting (AGM) the same year that endorsed Anthony’s leadership were held in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Societies Act.
Now Beatty faces the prospect of a RM1 million defamation suit by Anthony who claimed that the plaintiff’s action had caused him embarrassment and was “aimed at tarnishing his image and ruining his career”.
Meanwhile, Ambrose has not been sitting on his hands in the on-going tussle for the leadership of the NGO.
On Sep 3, last year he filed for a judicial review naming the ROS and Anthony as first and second respondent respectively.
Former Umno task force
The application was filed to quash the ROS decision, a declaration that no AGM in 2012 was ever conducted and, alternatively even if an AGM was held, the meeting was unlawful, null and void.
Ambrose, who heads the Penampang Umno division, is seeking a declaration that Anthony is not and never was the president of the KDM Malaysia.
He is also seeking for an injunction to restrain Anthony from undertaking any duty or action as president of KDM Malaysia, damages against both respondents, costs, statutory interest and any other relief deemed fit by the court.
The case had been scheduled by the same court to be heard before a different judge on March 5, this year.
KDM Malaysia was initially known as Umno KDM Task Force headed by Ambrose until several KDM leaders within the Barisan Nasional complained of its existence even though Najib had personally endorsed it.
Following the complaints, the NGO was renamed KDM Malaysia and registered with the ROS on Sept 8, 2011.
In a slap in the face for Sabah political parties and the powerful Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association helmed by Deputy Chief Minister and the community’s Huguan Siou (Paramount Chief) Joseph Pairin Kitingan, it’s backers said it was established to help uplift the KDM community irrespective of their religious faith.
The NGO’s declared objectives, among others, is to contribute effectively towards the social transformation in Sabah by focusing on educational programmes to help the rural KDM community and to champion and defend the interests, traditions, culture, establishment and survival of the community.
KDM Malaysia says it accepts membership from members of all political parties and anyone who has at least one grandparent from the KDM community can become a member.