Pandelela urged not to accept Sarawak CM’s gift

August 21, 2012

COMMENT: I have been supportive of the Bruno Manser Fund’s efforts to bring the plight of the Penans and other natives in Sarawak to our attention.

But when it comes to our Olympic Bronze Medalist Pandelela Rinong Pamg, the Fund is selfish to advise her not to accept  the reward for her achievement. I think she should  accept the award for two reasons. First, it is an award from the State, not Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud himself. The Chief Minister made the pledge on behalf of Sarawakians who are naturally proud of her achievement. It is fitting that her own state recognizes this young and humble lass.  Second, she should not be drawn into  politics as she is a sports personality.

Leave her alone. So Rinong, please accept the award from your state and use the money for  your education in the United States or elsewhere where you can be exposed to competitive sports while you earn your degree. Prepare yourself well for RIO2016, and may you win Gold.–Din Merican

Pandelela urged not to accept Sarawak CM’s gift

Swiss Human Rights group Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has urged Sarawakian Olympic medallist Pandelela Rinong Pamg not to accept any rewards from Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, citing concerns of “political manipulation”.

“We call on Pandelela not to let herself be politically manipulated and advise her to politely turn down Taib’s ‘special gift’,” read BMF’s statement yesterday.

The chief minister had reportedly promised a gift shortly after she had won the bronze medal at the Women’s 10-metre diving event on August 10, making her the first Malaysian female Olympic medalist.

Without disclosing the nature of the gift, Taib  was quoted saying that he would reward her after he had met her. Pandelela reportedly arrived at Kuching International Airport earlier today.

“Taib has abused his political power and done more harm to Sarawak’s indigenous peoples than any other Malaysian politician.

“He lacks the moral legitimacy to make a special gift to an outstanding Bidayuh champion like Pandelela,” BMF said in a statement today, pointing to allegations that Taib had supposedly abused his power by granting logging concessions to his family members, who collectively are also stakeholders in some 400 companies.

BMF has played a major role in highlighting Taib’s alleged wrongdoings, including the above allegations.

“It is feared that Taib is planning to abuse Pandelela’s Olympic success to boost his own dwindling popularity.

“The only gift Pandelela should accept from Taib is his resignation as Chief Minister, which would be a relief to the whole of Sarawak.” the NGO added.



Bernama reports:

Olympics Bronze Medallist Pandalela Rinong Pamg made yet another memorable splash when she was honoured with a state award on her accomplishment, after touching down to a grand homecoming at the Kuching International Airport here today.

The 19-year-old, who was accompanied by her parents and two other Sarawak Olympians, Bryan Nickson Lomas and Traisy Vivien Tukiet, became the first local athlete to be bestowed with the Sarawak Johan Kenyalang (JBK) award.

She received the award from Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng in an investiture ceremony at the Astana Negeri, Petra Jaya here.

As the country’s first woman Olympic medalist, the state government has also announced a special incentive in the form of a full scholarship to pursue a four-year education in Australia.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said, based on the scholarship, the dive queen was given a choice to either focus on coaching in swimming or tertiary studies. – Bernama

41 thoughts on “Pandelela urged not to accept Sarawak CM’s gift

  1. There comes a tiime in life when we are called to take a stand and make our choice between principles which have come to define us as who we are and expediency; it is clear as day that this is such a time and the choice will have to go with who we are.

    This Olympic Bronze Medalist has a bright future ahead of her and for her to allow her name to be forever tarnished by association with a corrupt government of a third world country makes no sence if she is qualified under U.S. immigration law to apply to the U.S. Government for permanent resident status to come to the United States. She will be given scholarships to choose from, to attend college of her choice and continue her training.

    So I say to her, “You go girl !”
    The point I am making here is that Rinong should accept the state award, unless you or Manser Bruno Foundation can give her money to pursue her studies and prepare for RIO2016. Can you, Bean, guarantee her a US scholarship if she turns down this offer by the Sarawak state government? Otherwise, neither you nor MBR should talk about principles here.–Din Merican

  2. Malaysia has been losing talented Malaysians to foreign governments for a while now because these governments welcome people with special skills and are prepared to pay the price to get them. Sadly we turn them away.

  3. Can you, Bean, guarantee her a US scholarship if she turns down this offer by the Sarawak state government? Otherwise, neither you nor MBR should talk about principles here.–Din Merican


  4. I guarantee she can get permanent resident status and an offer of scholarship to the university of her choice in the States. You can get John the former U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia to give his take on the issue if you don’t believe me. Dato
    I will e-mail former Ambassador John Malott on the matter and get back to you. I am sure the US government will not be able to help her family and sibblings. Here the State Government of Sarawak can do better. The Bruno Manser Foundation needs donation and is in no position to help her. If it can’t, it should just shut up.–Din Merican

  5. Narrow nationalism and parochialism should not be allowed to stand in her away. We should be thinking of what is best for her. The standard to apply here is ‘in her best interest’ and not “in the interest of her native country”. If the latter is the case then the choice is obvious.

  6. “I am sure the US government will not be able to help her family and siblings” — Dato Din Merican

    They can get U.S. visas to come to join her and when she qualifies as U.S. citizen her parents (who are not subject to any quota) can get permanent resident status within six months.

  7. BMF is requesting her not to accept the prize from Taib because they are genuinely convinced that Taib would use her to boost his popularity. she could apply to the state of Sarawak or to uncle Jibby to grant her a scholarship to study in the US.if not apply directly for a scholarship as Mr. Bean says.who wants to accept a prize from a corrupt slimy person like Taib. who knows he is crazy enough, he might propose to her, Oh my God! keep away from him Pandelela, corruption is contagious.
    Reeper, are you suggesting that she is corrupt because she accepts a reward from the State Government of Sarawak and you are not saying anything about the RM100k from Penang to Lee Chong Wei? As far as I am concerned she deserves to be rewarded for her performance at the London Olympics.

    You sit out there in some part of the world pontificating and offering unsolicited advice. The Bruno Manser Foundation should reward her if they want her to reject the state award. You know they can’t because they need our donation to get on with their fight for the Penans and the rest.BTW, Mr Bean is not the United States Government.–Din Merican

  8. Hmm….asking her to look for other opportunities in other country? And here people are complaining about brain/talent-drain. Pot calling kettle ?

  9. “You sit out there in some part of the world pontificating and offering unsolicited advice” — Dato Din Merican

    I was responding to your comment. I would like to think we are on the same side. We want what is best for her. She should be training with the world’s best in her field and in the best facilities and with the best coaching the world has to offer. It so happens it is not in Sarawak. She is an Olympian with a medal. That should put her in the top 1% of the world’s best athletes. It doesn’t have to be in the U.S.

  10. And on the hindsight, asking her not to accept the Sarawak state’s offer for oversea studies in Australia as well as training is pure stupidity. If you asked her not to accept such a good offer, who else could give an alternative? Thats why i love people giving out nonsense, only talk, only nag, only dream but at the end of the day, nothing is done.

  11. That comment meant for Reeper could very well be directed at me. Yes, Dato. I do not speak for the U.S. government. I’m just giving my 2-cents worth.

  12. I am sure she is very proud to be a Malaysian with the honour of bearing the Jalur Gemilang in the last Olympic march past. Let’s not corrupt her youthful thoughts with proposals of migrating to other countries. Others with less talent & future are welcome to try their luck in other lands if they wish – no one will stop them but please don’t try to “force” other people to take that course of action.
    Bravo Dato’ Din for coming out so forcefully with your opinion which, I am sure, many people share. By all means, do critise the country & the government as you like constructively but there is no need to attempt to sabotage it?

  13. Din : selamat hari raya to u & dr kam.

    I think pandelela must go and enjoy herself ; pocket the cash and scholarship and any goodies that come her way , consequent to winning bronze at the blue riband 10m platform diving.

    I do remember another 19 year old cyclist from lorong seri ,derga who represented the country at. 1968 mexico olympiad. Johari Ramli didnt complete the race, came home with huge gash on his thigh and all he ever got was copious meals courtesy of Ali nasi lemak at jalan pegawai.

    Tak payah berpolitik issue sukan ini. The athletes have enough on their plate.

    Note : aside from john carlos and tommie smiths fistful of black hands ; a much less written about protest was bob beamon refusing to compete at brigham young ncaa meet : apparently the mormon university didnt accept blacks competing on their tracks. Beamon went on to leap across the planet @ mexico.

    Pandelela and her parents are exemplary of and to malaysia and malaysians. We should leave it at that. And be happy as fellow citizens.
    Jeff, when I was a student in the US (1968-1970), I went to Mexico City for the Olympics in 1968. I remember Bill Toomey, the Gold Medalist for decathlon, who is today of the same age as myself (73).–Din Merican

  14. “Leave her alone. So Rinong, please accept the award from your state and use the money for your education in the United States or elsewhere where you can be exposed to competitive sports while you earn your degree. Prepare yourself well for RIO2016, and may you win Gold.–Din Merican

    Education in the U.S. would follow once the issue over her training for the next Olympics, her sponsor or sponsors etc is resolved. I am only picking up from where you left off.

  15. Din,
    I bet USA or even Singapore can offer better. Sorry for being a pragmatist here. One sabahan who become a Singaporean climb mountain including mount everest in honour of his adoptive country.
    Tell Taib! Money no enough. You should pay more

  16. Din,
    Say who? No need to go far. Cross the causeway. Singapore will accept open arms & legs. That should tell Taib. It’s all about business.
    Of course, she can take it but she should demand more

  17. Yes there are 2 choices for her, admittedly but if she would have any sense she should make a stand on it and turn it down. By accepting it, she would be like any other but where a person rises above oneself then there is a point to make. Great opportunity doesn’t come that often. Sarawak needs your voice. Brothers and sisters.

  18. There is actually no right or wrong answer to this ‘conundrum’. Both have their merits. The reality is that Pandelela would have no choice in the matter if she were to remain in Sarawak, or for that matter in Malaysia.

    Any country would welcome her with open arms, including the lil dot south of the Peninsula. Assimilation would be easier too, but i would venture a guess that she is not interested in leaving the community and relatives she grew up with permanently. The Bidayuh are very loyal to kith and clan, therefore in that sense, parochial. In the end, her parents will decide.

    It would of course be better if the Federal government steps in and send her to the best schools she can be comfortable in. It helps in binding her to a contract – instead of giving preferential scholarships to their own inbred cretins.

    I would agree with Dato, that BMF has no right even to suggest what they claim to be in her own interest. First world vision can sometimes be clouded by not having eaten enough rice.
    Thanks, CLF, for your comments.

    Rinong will decide on the basis of what is the best interest of her family and herself. She deserves to be rewarded by both the Federal and Sarawak governments, and developed to her full potential by going to be the best schools like Vassar ( or Wellesley ( the US for well rounded education and character building. Swiss based BMF does not appreciate the reality.–Din Merican

  19. “If you asked her not to accept such a good offer, who else could give an alternative? Thats why i love people giving out nonsense, only talk, only nag, only dream but at the end of the day, nothing is done.” — Trooper

    Dato Din Merican who has ties to the U.S. having spent time and graduated magna cum laude from a prestigous university in Washington DC could make informal enquiries on her behalf to begin with and what find out what incentives she could expect from the U.S. government in the way of opportunities. Why limit her opportunities to Sarawak? Are you calling Dato Din Merican a pin head and just another gas bag?? How old are you Trooper?

  20. dear Dato’ Din,
    I beg your pardon, how did you arrive at that conclusion that I said she is corrupt?
    I only said: ”Oh my God! keep away from him Pandelela, corruption is contagious”!
    ”pontificating and offering unsolicited advice” yes, what I say is my opinion and is it offensive because I sit in some other part of the world?
    if I may say further, she should also be rewarded for her performance by the federal government with a scholarship because she participated for Malaysia.
    nobody wants to take Pandelela away but she should get the best training in the world and that is in the US.
    I would be very happy if the Sarawak state had sincerely announced that it will give Pandelela RM1million as a reward for her performances, but no, a special prize is announced.
    would the actual prize be decided after finding out what she can do for Taib? that is what BMF is probably afraid of, using her for his political survival.
    sorry thats my unsolicited opinion, Dato’.
    Tell me what you mean by “corruption is contagious”?–Din Merican

  21. So because Singapore or the US can offer her better opportunities, she should dump Malaysia? She works hard and trained hard. She deserves the award. Take it and enjoy it. Don’t involve politics with sports.

  22. “She should be training with the world’s best in her field and in the best facilities and with the best coaching the world has to offer.” – Bean

    She trained in China before the Olympics and she has a Chinese coach. They are the best in the world in diving. So what are you talking about?

    Anyway, she has said that she wanted to train in China. She isn’t interested in the US.

  23. Interesting… She did wonderfully! Kudos to Pandelela and coaches. She trained hard with absolute no help/input from me (how abt you?). Hence, whether she should accept her reward(s) or not should be also be HER call. Not ours, eh. I am of the opinion that we did not earn the rights whatsoever to dictate how/what her next action should be. All I can say is I am proud of her achievements (as a person and as an athlete), and she should be rewarded for it. Be proud. Stop sullying this great achievement with politics etc… What say you?

    Selamat Hari Raya. Happy holidays….
    I agree and thanks.–Din Merican

  24. That should read “did WTF (world trade federation)”. I have yet to get into her head. Who knows what I’ll find if I do? Like Dato says I’m only giving unsolicited advice. Why not? When it comes pro bono?

  25. Dato is waiting for the response to his e-mail from John in California. As a former U.S. Ambassador and a senior member of the U.S. Department of State let’s wait for what John has to say. It has important ramifications for you didi should you one day come to represent Malaysia in ice skating and want to make U.S. your home. There is no ice in Malaysia for you to skate on. Unless of course UMNO finds a way to make some.

  26. “She trained in China before the Olympics and she has a Chinese coach. They are the best in the world in diving. So what are you talking about?” — didi

    I am of course talking about diving. Have you ever thought that this Olympiad bronze medalist might want to dive into other things like education in the best institutions the western world has to offer?

    It was the bloghost who mentioned U.S. education and I was only expanding on what he wrote (the possibility of U.S. citizenship and permanent resident status for her family etc). And since you cannot get U.S. education in China, I assume this Olympiad broze medalist would be interested this time to give a serious thought to the possibilities of training with the world’s best not only in China, but Europe and U.S.

    Let’s not deny that there are from time to time athletes, scientists and others who excel in the arts find life in their home countries stultifying and suffocating with the many restrictions they would need to comply and they seek refuge in the U.S. where they feel free to develop their talents. I would expect there are Chinese athletes given the opportunity who would do the same but for their concern in the safety of their family members they leave behind.

    Even Dato who received a U.S. education in the late ’60s had recently remarked that he too, had he been younger, would have joined the exodus of foreign students in remaining behind after graduation and not return to his home country. I cannot find a better ambassador of U.S. education.

  27. My advice to this gritty gal – take whatever the state wanna give you and indulge. That’s the right thing to do during these trying times when uncertainty hangs high in the horizon. You never know what will come next.

  28. There are many colleges and universities in the US that will give her full scholarship especially since she is an Olympic medalist. All she needs to do is find a course she is interested in and apply to a college or university that offers sports scholarships. MACEE will be glad to assist her.

    She can also qualify for a Green Card under special skills or talent. It’s really up to her. In the US many athletes are given permanent residence including athletes from China.

  29. It’s a great shame that we are still talking about trusting our resources into overseas education. What does that say about our local institutions? Don’t you have confidence or rather should I say, faith in them? What are you as a nation’s mentality. Yet the irony is that you want to be a developed nation by 2020 or whatever. Malaysians would be hard to be true fellow citizens… they always believe in others not themselves. Why? A f–k up nation.
    Precisely, Orang Utan, wake up. Our education system, inter alia, is kaput and of poor quality. I have no faith in our institutions. If this had happened in the 1960s, I would not have come home. Don’t talk about being a developed nation in 2020. Per capita income is not the measure of development.–Din Merican

  30. Whatever she wants to do is up to her and not up to the likes of Mr Bean. Why do people here want her to leave the country and represent other countries? So Malaysia is underserving of great athletes? Hate the government but there’s no reason not to celebrate Ms. Rinong’s achievement. Isn’t it great to know that we can PRODUCE great athletes like her, Chong Wei and Nicol David instead of importing them like that tiny red dot?
    Not enough of them…these are exceptions rather than the rule–aberrations, my man. If not we would have come home more than a silver and bronze from the London Olympics. What is wrong with importing sports? Britain got Mohamad Farah (from Somalia). Of course, Mohamed is now Mo. Leave that to the British to change names.–Din Merican

  31. “corruption is contagious” – is a common saying which means those who consort with the corrupt eventually become corrupt themselves.
    and Dato’, what I meant is in my comment: ”would the actual prize be decided after finding out what she can do for Taib? that is what BMF is probably afraid of, using her for his political survival”.

    Dato’, I really feel sorry for saying what I said, which is contrary to your opinion and those of the many commentators!

    the majority of ”those sitting in some other parts of the world” are not doing it out of their own choice. these people have not had the luxury of a scholarship, rich or influential parents or $$ to study in the MU, UK or US. not to speak of many who had not made it and stayed behind out of shame to come home a failure.
    Apologies are not necessary. You can be a dissenter and have your own views. I appreciate your comments. When I disagree I will say so; sometimes, I may sound a little aggressive. Take care, Reeper.–Din Merican

  32. “Whatever she wants to do is up to her and not up to the likes of Mr Bean.” — didi

    What about “the likes of Mr Bean” You mean Rowan Atkinson? Care to elaborate? Getting personal aren’t you?

    Patriotism is not the monopoly of the likes of someone who goes by the handle “didi”. How about that for starters? This attitude is most prevalent among UMNO Malays and others like them.

    No one here is foolish enough to want to question the right of this young athlete to choose anything. We are just trading ideas. I only read Dato’s comments and picked up from where he left off about U.S. education. I made no mention about special interest groups that want her to drive around town with plate numbers that say “Save the Tropical Rainforest” That would be interfering with her free speech rights.

    I suggested one standard to use to evaluate her choices namely “in her best interest”. I did say if the standard to apply is “in the best interest of her native country” the choice is clear. You choose to gloss over that because it gives you the opportunity to take the high moral road and pontificate endlessly about the virtues of nationalism, loyalty and patriotism. None of those are in issue here.

    You may want to step down from the high moral pedestal you placed yourself on and see things for what they are. They are just opinions by readers as to what they would do if they find themselves in her position. Dato having been part of the tradition of liberal western education knows the U.S. has some of the best institutions of higher learning the world has to offer. the word from our Dato to her is not to be manipulated by BMF. I would broaden that to include special interest groups like BMF and the interest or interests that the corrupt CM of Sarawak represents (not necessarily limited to or coextensive with the state government of Sarawak) who are only looking after their own interests.

  33. Any news from John, Dato? On the issue of support from U.S. institutions including the U.S. government? If there was uncertainty earlier and doubt about the legal pathway this world class athlete could take, this has been cleared by semper fi. Scroll up to read his posting on the issue. As an attorney with some knowledge and experience in U.S. immigraion law i can confirm to you and readers here that should you have such special skills and excel in the arts and sciences and if your own government does not care to provide the incentives you need to develop your talents, there are governments who do. It is sad but true that Malaysia has been losing talent to foreign governments for a while now. That is an open secret. Leading the pack are those in biochemistry and related fields.

    Let not feelings of misplaced patriotism and loyalty be in the way especially when they have gone unrewarded because of race and religion.
    I am afraid not yet.–Din Merican

  34. It is regrettable that BMF,a much respected human rights group,has ventured into uncharted waters.

    This young athlete has just brought glory to her country and everyone here is very proud of her. Her unassuming demeanour and her ease in handling public attention has won her many admirers, including Malaysian parents.

    She has worked hard the past years and she rightly deserves the adulation and reward being showered on her. To suggest that she shun any award from the Sarawak CM is to ask her to make a cruel compromise.

    Let’s not stop the young from achieving their dreams and influence them with our selfish motives. We will deal with Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud another day but in the meantime, we rejoice with Pandelela Rinong. Cry Geranimo.

  35. Wish Pandelela is following this blog to see the many unsolicited advices being thrown around for her to consider. However let her make up her own mind & choose a course that is, in her own opinion, “in her best interests”.

  36. “In her best interest” is an objective as well as a subjective standard. For now she should take time off to bask in the glory that is rightfully hers.

  37. BN’s endless tricks, lies, deception, theft, accumulation of funds… to stay in power. Not after 55 years of BN! It must now be zero tolerance & striking back with the greatest force. Politicians too long in power are the roots of problems: pillage & plunder; cronies; in-equality of races & incomes; apartheid; hardship & grief turning to crime & tragedy. Hundreds of billions wasted in projects, white elephants & kickbacks, mismanagements. It’s a vicious spiral, to cling to power they will do anything. Then they use your money to fool you & destroy you further! Vote them out! Why are you so forgiving & relenting?

  38. Pandelela should ask Sarawak’s CM Taib:” Why was Bruno murdered after he came all the way from Switzerland to help natives against your destruction of forest? Why was your US Aide Boyert tortured till he died with a plastic bag around his head when he didn’t show total obedience? You are Chief Ministr, Finance Ministr & Planning & Resources Ministr for 31 years and yr Uncle some 20 yrs before you. You control all aspects of economic activities from timber to shipping to land development to hydro; contracts awarded without tender, your cronies live in palaces while there’s no decent trunk road from Sematan to Limbang, while natives lack electricity and drinking water. How much have you, yr Uncle and cronies taken from Sarawak? Foreign analysts estimated not less than RM25billion = RM25,000 million. Your daughter in law’s divorce claim alone is RM400mil. Have you not indirectly or directly destroyed Sarawak? Foreigners in bersih, democratic countries like NZ rate you as a murderer, lower than the lowest animals and criminals.They are shocked you have the cheek to still show your face.”

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