KOTA KINABALU, June 14 — Lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph’s apology following his remarks about the Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant has not assuaged the Kadazandusun community here which holds a deep regard for the cultural event.
Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguon Siou or paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community, called for charges to be arraigned against Joseph in the Native Court.
“In the context of our innocent and genteel community where the community tries to raise our people, especially our young girls to achieve a high standard in knowledge, education, love for their own traditions, it is unbelievable that Marcel Jude has gone down so low as to ignore the local customs and traditions of the Kadazandusun and literally ‘langgar adat’ which needs to be compensated with the proper ‘sogit’ by the Native Court,” Kitingan said.
Sabah’s Native Court has provisions that allow for aggrieved parties in the communities to claim penalties and compensation for transgressions against their customs. This is known as sogit.
Kitingan, who is also the founder and adviser for Parti Bersatu Sabah, condemned Joseph’s remarks in court made on behalf of his client, another politician who was charged with five counts of molest, four of which were on an Unduk Ngadau contestant.
While arguing for mitigation, Joseph made a written submission that the Unduk Ngadau was a poor representation of women, and was more akin to an “exotic cattle show”. He however, did not verbally utter those words in court.
Kitingan, who is also president of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), accused Joseph of deviating from his professional boundaries and personally attacking, defaming and shaming the pageant and its organiser.
“What has KDCA got to do with his client’s alleged offences? KDCA together with the government organised the online Unduk Ngadau Beauty Contest, which is based on the Legend of Huminodun who saved people from the famine and starvation, and became an exemplary personality and a fine model for our community to follow.
“The contest is one of a noble objective in the search for highly capable, skillful and loving personality in our community,” he said, adding that it was also professionally judged and “above board to ensure the enjoyment and happiness of everyone”.
“Since Marcel Jude has brought his shameful and defamatory statements into public arena, he should be taken to task in the right manner and through the right channels, as he has not only offended KDCA directly but everyone else who are not only members of the Association and the community but also everyone who felt and share the negative and defamatory impact arising out of his statement.
The KDCA has lodged a police report on the matter even after Joseph issued an apology as requested by the Unduk Ngadau organising chairman.
Joseph said his apology is extended to everyone involved in the pageant as well as the community.
The lawyer defended his statement, saying it was his professional duty to do his best to argue for his client in court.
He said that arguments and proceedings in court were not subject to debate or withdrawal by any third party.
Joseph is defending a politician for Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku, Phillip Among for molest charges. The latter is currently out on bail.
On May 19, a beauty contestant claimed Among had groped her in his car and office after a photo shoot at a bridal studio.
The allegations were made in a police report on May 21 and subsequently caused a storm of controversy in the state where the Unduk Ngadau is a popular and cherished cultural event.