Tuesday, December 4, 2007


The Tagal traditional practice of the Kadazandusun community is recognised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The recognition leads to a generous finance in term of subsidy from the European Commission (EC) or ECUNDP Small Grants to assist the Kadazandusun community in the preservation of tropical forests. Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF) chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, who stated this yesterday, urged the Kadazandusun community to preserve and respect Tagal. “Tagal is practised successfully by all the Kadazandusun communities from generation to generation until today to ensure sustainable forest management, preserve the tropical forest while maintaining their livelihood from the herbal production. “Even though Tagal is not really a widespread practice in Malaysia, it is also practised by the Orang Asli from other states in West Malaysia, and the natives in Sarawak. However, they call the practice gotong-royong,” he said when officiating the Celebration Forestry in Malaysia (EC-UNDP Programme) and its documentary at a hotel here yesterday. “Preservation and promotion of both forestry and the herbal production are actually a form of survival practice if we really understand the method from these two economic concepts, leading to an international assistance,” added Simon. “Besides a practice for several ceremonies to restrict harvesting, Tagal is also needed when it comes to a harvesting season from the herbal cultivation and other agricultural economy. I hope Tagal, an art of survival, could be respected and applied by all the communities. “Those who break the traditional law will be asked to pay a sogit (punishment),” he said. According to Simon, today we have all kinds of written laws. However, some of these laws have not being practised even though we have all kinds of enforcement or authorities. Meanwhile, Professor Datuk Dr Hood Salleh, who is chairman of the National Steering Committee of the Malaysia EC-UNDP and SGP, said the traditional value of teamwork or cooperation among the communities need to be practised today too as an intellectual way for survival, sincerity, devotion, creating a genuine partnership and exchange of ideas with the western society. Hood said the objective of the partnership generally is to alleviate poverty among the communities dependent on forests, by strengthening the link between economic activities and sustainable forest use and management. Ann Lasimbang, a supervisor from the Ulu Moyog Project Community, said currently there are 10 groups of Tagal communities in Sabah. Each community receives a subsidy of around fifty thousand quarterly from the EC-UNDP under the Small Grants Programme (SGP) to promote tropical forests in Malaysia. “We already own a herbal garden and carry out organic farming that generates a positive income to the communities, helping them to standardize their livelihood besides the subsidy assistance,” he said. During the celebration, one of the participants, Noah Jackson, 33, who graduated from the University of Montana, USA, under the sponsorship of the US Fullbright scholarship, has chosen Sabah to do a research about the forestry here. Noah, a Caucasian American, who travelled to Sabah for the first time and has stayed here for 30 days, intends to live here for nine more months. “I would also preserve my experiences and views about Sabah by penning a book which I would name as ‘Vision from Borneo’,” he said. When asked what he likes generally, Noah replied, “What l love most here is the scenic sights and the tropical trees besides the preservation of the forestry, an economic value that must be preserved by all.” Asked why he chose Sabah for his research, Noah said “I believe it would be a more beneficial experience. That is why I have made a commitment to live, study, make a research and write a book here. I have visited Sarawak and West Malaysia too, and personally, both experiences (West and East Malaysia) would be an experience of a lifetime.” Another participant from the Orang Asli group (Perak), Rizuan Tempele, 29, who has visited Sabah several times, felt excited to meet the Sabahans. “Sabah and the language are beautiful. I would love to come again and I hope the community would select me for the future project,” he said. Over 50 participants from West Malaysia, Sarawak, Sabah and US attended the celebration. Twenty of them received certificates in recognition of their efforts and teamwork or Tagal.