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.
“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.
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