By Georgia Suzanne Lingam @ Georgianne
Little is known story about how I got my name. My father worked at the Malaysian embassy in Paris in the 1970s. And before that a short while in London.
He was the only Sabahan there among many Tengkus.
I remember clearly playing in the cobble stone courtyard with the Malay gardener and caretaker’s son. We lived on the embassy grounds.
I remember when Tun Mustapha was due to visit Europe, my father would attend to him. They would join him.
My parents. Dad was particularly charmed by my beautiful mother. Except that she had that direct Spanish character that doesn’t mince her words. Unsuited to a life of a diplomat. But he liked my father too.
Dad gifted my mum with Sabah pearls and even big gemstones. Not that valuable then, I suppose.
When she was pregnant, they decided to name me Georgianne. A feminine version of Mr. George, Tun Mustapha’s pseudonym in England.
Many many many years later, by a twist of fate, a friend brought me to see Tun Mustapha just before his death. Because I had told that friend this story.
He was in Shangri-La Tanjung with his then wife, a very young a Mat Salleh.
I was quite intimidated the moment I walked into the room. I stood by the door and Tun Mustapha looked at me.
Amazingly, even at that age, he said “you are Toni’s (my mum) daughter”.
Standing at the door way, I answered him, “yes Tun, my name is Georgianne. I was named after Mr George.“
He said “I’m George “ and asked me to sit down.
I was so dumbstruck so I didn’t talk much.
But here and now, at this time and juncture in our nation’s history, I wish I would have asked him these:
1. Why did you sign the Malaysia Agreement ?
2. What was the intent of Tun Fuad and yourself and the others when you all decided to pen the agreement?
A dream of Bajau-Suluk-KDM unity. Did they start with 25 seats? Something like that.
The British planned it well. Dividing the seats so that the Chinese would tip the balancing scales.
Always. DIVIDE AND RULE.
Fast forward. PBS went into that 1985 battle again with a promise of the same Bajau-Suluk-KDM-Chinese unity spirit.
But we all know what happened that fateful election night. Don’t we?
I remember clearly. Election. Riots. Emergency.
Later. Again a dissolution.
Then the 1986 landslide victory.
Where are we today?
Still healing bitter wounds or flaming wider divides? Or Repeating history?
My prayer for Sabah is to unite.
Bring the East and West together in a brotherly embrace, sealed with a red string.
We don’t have to be known as Kota Katak. But we can be known as that rainbow City of perfect harmony- Kota Kita.
Even if I fail to see my dream this election, or the next, or the next and next and the next… I will still dream the dream for my children, your children and our children’s children.
As we enter yet another battle, I still love my childhood friends, and I still remember when we were untouched by divisive teachings and were one family.
We still are one FAMILY.
Whatever flag you like, we are still Sabah.
In the words of our PM…
I am a Sabahan First, but that doesn’t make me less of a Malaysian.
Georgia Suzanne Lingam @ Georgianne is a Commissioner of Oaths based in Sabah