By: Herman Luping
August 26, 2012: I WOULD be most grateful if you would allow me to respond to the points/issues raised in a letter to your popular Sunday Forum of August 19th by "Sharp Shooter" entitled " Luping's Reasons For Closure Of Upko Are Not Convincing".
He raised interesting points/issues. I am also grateful to him/her for raising these issues as I feel they now formed part and parcel of our historical records.
The points/issues raised were, and I present these in chronological order in terms of dates and years:
. That Upko and (Tun Fuad) Stephens met opposition from the very beginning by Sabah Alliance fellow component parties.
The answer is yes. The Usno party and Tun Mustapha were also pursuing the same objective as the then Unko and later Upko party and Stephens - the right to govern the State or the successor of the departing White rulers.
The SCA leadership decided to support Tun Mustapha and Usno in a letter written by the SCA assistant secretary to the Secretary of the MCA in Kuala Lumpur. As I stated in my comment on this in my Sunday column, this policy of supporting one of the contending Bumiputra leaders, namely Mutapha and Usno was a matter of political expediency at the time.
They saw visible support for Usno and Mustapha by Umno leaders and, in particular, the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. But as I also pointed out, not all Sabah Chinese leaders were supportive of this policy.
Opposition to this move came from the younger Western educated Chinese leaders who were all professionals. They decided to join Upko in late 1965 but Datuk Khoo Siak Chew, the SCA leader prevailed on Stephens to close the door of Upko to the Chinese for the sake of the Sabah Alliance.
Stephens was just "impeached" and it was in fact Khoo who chaired that meeting. Stephens then advised Tan Sri Ghani Gilong, the acting President, to close Upko's door to non natives. This was done in 1966.
The hope by Upko leaders then was to make sure that the Sabah Alliance would remain intact with Upko in it and that the federal government would soon call for the first State general election and to name the dates.
. That Datuk Payar Juman left Upko party after the party left the Sabah Alliance party.
No. He left the Upko party soon after the election in early April 1967.
Upko left the Sabah Alliance on 15th May, 1967.
.That Upko was conveniently dissolved when Datuk Sundang was in London on medication.
Sundang was no longer active in politics since 1966.
His nephew Suffian Koroh (Tan Sri) took over his place in Upko and his position as Deputy president of Upko was taken over by Ghani Gilong, Ghani took over from Stephens when the latter resigned as President of Upko in 1966 as demanded by the fellow component parties of the Sabah Alliance party, namely, Usno, SCA and SIC (Sabah Indian Congress).
Stephens was impeached and accused of being a traitor to the nation for calling for a review of the terms of entry of Sabah to join in the formation of Malaysia.
. That Luping and Stephens benefited from the dissolution of Upko and for jumping to the Usno party, Stephens as High Commissioner to Australia and Luping was given the job in the Sabah Times and also as Assistant Minister.
This is not entirely true. I Luping, and Stephens did not jump to the Usno party as Payar Juman did.
It was a process and agreed to by the Upko congress held to determine the dissolution of the party. It was then decided that all Upko members and leaders joined Usno en masse and that the Usno party leadership had agreed to this suggestion of joining en-masse by Upko rather than a merger of the two parties.
I was not made an Assistant Minister in 1967 or immediately after the dissolution of Upko.
I continued as Managing Director of the Sabah Times company and editor of the Sabah Times until 1970.
I joined the Sabah Times in November 1965 and took over the management of the company as well as the Editor of the paper.
At Stephens' request, I formed a company called Sharikat Sabah Times Sdn Bhd with Tun Stephens holding 70 per cent of the shares, his wife Toh Puan Rahimah 10 per cent and myself, 20 per cent.
Stephens was the Chairman of the company, myself the Managing Director and Rahimah the secretary.
Hitherto, the Sabah Times, then known as "North Borneo News and Sabah Times" was published by a partnership firm between Stephens and Tan Siou Tee (later Datuk Ali Tan).
I was only appointed Assistant Minister in 1971 after the second general election.
And yes, Stephens was appointed by the Federal Government as High Commissioner to Australia in 1969.
And Ghani Gilong was appointed Federal Minister of Sabah Affairs by the Federal Government.
In my opinion they were given these posts not for "jumping", but in consideration of their effort and sacrifice to forge bumiputra unity in the State by having one bumiputra party.
A question was asked why I did not resign from Upko when I objected to the dissolution of the party.
Stephens allowed us to speak freely on the matter of the dissolution without fear or favour and I did.
There was never any suggestion that I should resign from Upko if the resolution was passed by the Upko national council or the Upko national congress. Indeed, at the end of the very long meeting ( no fighting or calling of names by any one) and the resolution was passed by a majority votes, Stephens touched my shoulder in a friendly gesture and told me not to worry. He said he was convinced that we were doing it right for the community. He said all of us must now work together with the Usno leaders for the sake of the bumiputra.
. That I (Luping) lost my deposit at the third State general election in 1976.
This is not true. I only lost by about 800 votes. The total number of voters in Menggatal at that time, I think, was about 17,000. The percentage of support for each party was then roughly 40pc Muslim and Usno; 40pc Kadazan and Berjaya and 20pc Chinese and Berjaya.
The number of constituencies have been increased to 48 and the Usno-Muslim supporters were roughly in 20 constituencies, 20 constituencies for the Kadazans and 8 constituencies for the Chinese community.
The results of the 1976 elections were: Berjaya party, 28 seats and Usno 20. The Muslim votes went solidly behind USNO and Mustapha despite the visible contribution (in funds) and support by the Federal political parties (mainly Umno) and Federal Government.
The record of the results of the election of 1976 should be in the Election Commission office or in the State archives. I am only relying on memory but I am definite that I did not lose my deposit.
I had the solid support of the Muslim-Usno voters which was about 40 per cent of the overall number of voters in the constituency.
. And finally, why I, Luping, did not continue my fight to get the 30 per cent for oil revenue from Petronas after the 1976 election.
I was no longer in politics. I left the country soon after the election in April 1976 to study law in London.
I went to see Mustapha in his house with my wife to tell him of my plan for the next few years and basically, as a matter of courtesy to one's leader, to ask his permission to allow me to leave politics and take up study.
He told me that I could go back and look after the Sabah Times.
He was now holding the majority shares in the company.
Stephens sold the majority of their share holdings to him.
I told Tun that I have made up my mind and that I have come to ask for his blessing.
Margaret, my wife, also backed me. Tun then said he could only give me 600 pounds sterling in cash.
He said I would need the cash for taxis, etc, when I arrived in London. I accepted his gift with thanks and told him that I did not come to ask for financial assistance.
I never worked for the Sabah Times anymore. In fact I was "sacked" by 'Syed Kechik the Advisor from Kedah on or about 1969.
The impact of being "sacked" and replaced by a relatively unknown guy from Kuala Lumpur was very hurting. The guy, a nice and very friendly person, was given a job by Syed as manager of the Sabah Tourist Association before he was employed to take over from me.
But to be fair to 'Mustapha he called me to his office and told me that he was giving me a new job as Chairman of the newly-formed Sabah Ports Authority. He said he wanted the Sabah Ports Authority to take over the management of all the ports in Sabah and also to repair and extend the ports of Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan immediately. This was the post I held until the second State general election in 1971. I was asked to stand for the constituency of Tanjung Aru, then held by an SCA leader, Lee Vui Min.
After the election I was called to the Chief Minister's office (Mustapha) and he told me that he wanted to appoint me as one of the nine Assistant Ministers and that he was thinking of posting me under Datuk Pang Tet Tsung the Minister of Works and Communication. This was one of the senior Ministry posts in the State Cabinet. He said there was a lot of infrastructure to be done and completed.
At first, I protested. I told Tun that the monthly emoluments of chairman of the SPA was RM5,000 whereas the monthly salary for Assistant Ministers was only RM2,500. As Chairman I was also entitled to a car and driver I told him. I also told him that I have built a house and I was still paying for the bank loan.
Tun told me to make up my mind which job I should take. He said to telephone him back before noon that day.
He said he was making the announcement by then.
That is how I got the job as Assistant Minister together with nearly all ex-Upko top committee leaders such as Datuk Peter Mojuntin, Datuk Stephen Koroh (Tan Sri Suffian) Datuk Andrew (Idrus) Matakim to mention a few.
It was an exercise in getting the bumiputra to work together and we accepted the posts even if we were occupying secondary roles or positions in the overall governance of the State.
I will probably make a further elaboration on these issues in my next Sunday column.
Meanwhile, many thanks to "Sharp Shooter" for his valuable comments. His aim, however, was not as straight as it should have been.