Lawyer sues association promoting Sabah customs, traditions for alleged interference of professional duties

Philip Among (left) with lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph. Joseph sued Shalmon Sanangan and the Sabah Customs and Tradition Practitioners Association Sabah for making a statement in local newspaper The Borneo Post published on June 16. — Picture by Julia Chan
Philip Among (left) with lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph. Joseph sued Shalmon Sanangan and the Sabah Customs and Tradition Practitioners Association Sabah for making a statement in local newspaper The Borneo Post published on June 16. — Picture by Julia Chan

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KOTA KINABALU, June 17 — Marcel Jude Joseph who is facing public vitriol for describing the local Unduk Ngadau pageant as an “exotic cattle show” has filed a defamation suit against the president of a local group, accusing the latter of interfering with his professional duties as a lawyer.

Joseph sued Shalmon Sanangan and the Sabah Customs and Tradition Practitioners Association Sabah for making a statement in local newspaper The Borneo Post published on June 16.

In his suit, Jude denied uttering those words aloud during the bail hearing for his client Phillip Among on June 10 as claimed by Sanangan before Magistrate Jessica Ombou Kakayun.

Sanangan had reportedly said those words had defamed the tradition and was an insult to the organiser and the traditions of the pageant.

Joseph, who filed the suit at the Kota Kinabalu High Court today, also claimed that the statement was an attempt to stop him from carrying out his work as an advocate.

Joseph courted controversy with his choice of words in his written submission for the bail submission for his client, but maintained it was his responsibility to argue for his client’s benefit.

He later issued a public apology to the Unduk Ngadau organisers and the community but maintained that he was carrying out his professional duty as an advocate, which was not subject to argument by third parties or retraction.

He also did not utter the offending words in open court.

Despite his apology, native groups including the Kadazandusun Cultural Association, have called for Joseph to be hauled up to Native Court, saying that his apology is proof of admission of guilt.

The Native Court is in the midst of producing a charge against him for hurting the local community.

Joseph is representing politician Among who was charged for molesting two women, including an Unduk Ngadau participant.

Both Joseph and Among are members of the Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku, which is aligned to the government.

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