Wednesday, May 28, 2008


P’pang Council should reconsider reverting Sigah to original position

I refer to the letter by Monsopiad which appeared in your Sunday Home/ forum on May, 25. his opinions have raised more issues and doubts which need to be clarified further and answered by the District Officer of Penampang cum Penampang District Council Chairman that what had been earlier highlighted in my letter published in your Home/Forum on May 18. I do not wish to dwell too much on the Sigah which Monsopiad seems to be naive of its importance or significance attached to it, but suffice it for me to enlighten him of the following. I would like to recall his memory when Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan was installed as the Kadazan Huguan Siou by the Kadazan Cultural Association (KCA and not KDCA) at the Society of Kadazan premises at Kg Tuavon, Penampang on July 1st, 1984. At the installation ceremony, the Sigah was significantly used and ceremoniously placed on Pairin’s head to install him, thus conferring him with the Huguan Siouship title, and such conferment was recognised by the Kadazans. This ceremony is akin to installing Kings, Monarchs, Sultans or Agongs when their Royal Crowns or Headgears are ceremoniously placed on their heads during their inaugurations and installations as rulers of their own respective country. This is a manifestation of the importance and significance of the Sigah when it has been used to install Pairin as Huguan Siou. It had also been used symbolically when installing individuals into their respective offices or as presents to dignified visitors to show respect for them. Besides, the Sigah is also significantly worn during important occasions such as Harvest Festivals, weddings by the grooms and during other important functions. Monsopiad also appears to be ignorant about the procedures of the project construction regiment. With due respect to Monsopiad, let me enlighten him of the construction procedures before he can even attempt to make his statements in future to avoid misleading the readers. Firstly, it is the responsibility of the contractor to carry out construction works according to approved plans. Should there be valid reasons to make necessary changes while the construction is on-going, the project owners, through its site supervisor or project manager, would first give verbal instructions to the contractor regarding the proposed changes, and this would then be followed by means of written Authority Instructions issued to the contractor to, among others, halt the work temporarily in so far as the variation works to be carried out is concerned. Secondly, a variation order would then be issued by the project owner, complete with new instructions to include revised costing and working drawings for such works. The costs for the additional works (or the reduction of which as the case may be) would have already been worked out by the Quantity Surveyors for consideration and agreement by both parties. Even then, the relevant approving authorities or the Penampang District Council in this case, have to be consulted for any variation work. Only when the variation order has been duly approved and conveyed to the contractor in written form, can the contractor proceed with the construction work based on the premise of the approved variation orders. I do not know whether the Penampang District Council has adhered to this procedural practice as laid out in the Treasury Instructions or any other standard procedures as approved and adopted by the Council, especially when spending Government funds or ratepayers’ monies. As opined by Monsopiad to the contrary, it is not the responsibility of the contractor to obtain the views of KDCA or advice from the Bobohizans with regard to the positioning of the Sigah in question. Instead, it is the responsibility of the Penampang District Council, as the project owner, to seek all these clarifications right from the planning stage. If this matter has been inadvertently missed out at the outset but was later found out to be too important to be left out or included as the case may be in the Project Agreement then such variations (either additions to or reduction from the scope of works), should have been worked out and approved for incorporation in the Variation Order. The successful bidder or contractor would have at least been diligently notified in whatever form, verbal or written, that there is such a variation to be worked out pending issuance of further instructions by the project owner. In which case, the contractor would not normally proceed to carry out such works intended for variation, otherwise he would bear the costs for work done. If, on the other hand, the project owner decides to vary the contract in the absence of verbal or written instructions to the contractor, then the additional costs for such variations would ultimately be absorbed by the project owner, unless there is a compromise between both parties that the contractor agrees to absorb the additional costs. Monsopiad might not have noticed (regretfully if he did not) that at the commencement of the construction of the Sigah just before the last general election, the super structure of the Sigah’s frontal was initially orientated facing the West or the Penampang Bypass. Hence, it can be deducted from this stage of work that the contractor of the Sigah had proceeded with the construction in the absence of verbal or written instruction from the District Council. This was further confirmed to me by the landscape consultant who is the architect/designer of the Sigah Monument on 17/05/08 that it was constructed in compliance with the original approved plan. At this point in time, the orientation was then favoured by most, it not all, by the Penampang populace. However, as the construction progressed after the general election, the frontal orientation of the Sigah was suddenly changed to face in the opposite direction, that is, facing the East. Such is the unprofessional manner in which the reorientation of the Sigah was carried out by just changing its original position from facing West to East, by those individuals in authority (or perhaps under strict instruction by someone who is higher than them) without complying with the basic norms of project management protocol, especially when it is a project funded by the ratepayers. Or have they complied? Well, we will leave this matter to the Government Project Inspector and the Government Auditor to investigate whether the relevant Treasury instructions have been duly complied with. This subject matter merits an investigation by those concerned since the variation works reflect financial implications, be they plus or minus Variation Orders, if any, when the Council decided to reposition the Sigah to its present orientation. I further beg to differ from Monsopiad’s views when he suggested to put the figure of the Late Golden Son of the Kadazans, Datuk Peter Mojuntin, at the roundabout. Even his Son, Datuk Donald Mojuntin disagreed with this suggestion when somebody tried to make this similar suggestion to him in my presence. We have our own local Kadazan hero, his name is also MONSOPIAD, who hailed from Terawi, Kandazon. His tomb at the Terawi cemetery can still be located. His statue should have been more appropriately been erected at that location instead of the Sigah because of its humungous size obstructing the views of motorists. The statue of GAMBUNAN, the local Hero of Tambunan, has already been erected at Tambunan. I salute the Tambunan District Councillors for being conscious-minded of erecting the statue of their local hero. The Tenom District Council has likewise erected their own local Hero, Antenom, in Tenom Town. Why can’t the PDC think of erecting the statue of our own local hero, Monsopiad, instead of erecting the miserable looking pineapple at the Yue Min School Roundabout? It would have been justified if the pineapple had been appropriately erected at the Tuavon Roundabout where the actual road is leading to Kg Babagon - where the famous Babagon pineapple is being grown. Since the construction of the Sigah has already started and is about to be completed at the wrong location, we leave it as where it is for our future generations to judge for themselves whether their forefathers did make the sound decision firstly, as to its location and secondly, as to the appropriateness of its present orientation. I still maintain my view that the Council should reconsider reverting the Sigah to its original position of facing West to serve its basic and original purposes when it was mooted, that is, to beautify the roundabout (albeit obstructing the views of motorists) and, more importantly, to face it towards the main highway (Penampang By-pass) as a welcoming signage for all of us, in particular the tourists, when arriving at the Penampang heartland. The by-pass is now being regularly used not only by tourist bus operators transporting tourists through Donggongon Town on their way to places of interest like Tambunan and beyond, but also motorists as well as visitors driving towards Penampang via the said highway. Regrettably, Monsopiad must have been given inaccurate information since the facts he (Monsopiad) had quoted are mostly inaccurate and incorrect, thus the statements he made are verily misleading to the readers. I trust that Monsopiad should refrain himself from writing on this issue until and unless he has dug conscientiously deep down in his heart and only then can be continue to express his sincere views whether the present orientation is correct or otherwise. Even a respectable member of the District Council Penampang whom I met, could not even agree with the present orientation. It therefore goes to show that the change of the orientation was never brought up to the Council for endorsement. If Monsopiad is genuine enough in expressing his views on this subject, by all means be a gentleman enough to make himself known and identified by signing off his name (as what I always do) so that people would know who you are.

Sylvester J Disimon, Chairman, KSS Penampang District Branch.