KOTA KINABALU, Aug 13 — Controversial lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph was fined seven buffaloes by the Penampang Native Court here for his offensive remarks against the Kadazandusun and Murut (KDM) community in court last June.
Kadazandusun Cultural Association deputy president Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said Joseph has agreed to the sogit — compensation or settlement that will be paid to the community through the association, along with a half-page public apology in a local newspaper.
“On behalf of KDCA and all the associations affiliated with us, we have agreed not to pursue the court action against Joseph, and we consider this matter to be closed.
“Therefore, we are asking the whole Kadazandusun community to bury the hatchet and do what we have always done, which is to promote peace and reconciliation,” he said.
Kitingan explained that the resolution has the blessing of the paramount leader and Huguan Siou Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who did not want the issue to be dragged on.
The number of buffaloes is determined by the seven varieties of the KDM customs and traditions.
The current practice in the city may mean that the offending party will pay the monetary value of the buffaloes in replacement. A buffalo here costs between RM3,500 to RM5,000.
Kitingan also said that the importance of the public apology cannot be overstated.
“Although Joseph has apologised to the Unduk Ngadau committee and the contestants, he has agreed to issue another public apology,” he said.
In the statement released by Kitingan, they said that Joseph had expressed his remorse for offending the community, insisting it was never his intention to cause pain to anyone.
Joseph had allegedly made the offensive remarks, likening the Unduk Ngadau cultural pageant — a much loved and cherished event that takes part during the Harvest Festival — to an “exotic cattle show”.
He made the remarks in court in his written bail submission when arguing for a lower bail for his client, another controversial figure currently facing trial for molesting a beauty pageant contestant.
Joseph came under heavy fire from the local community and was asked to retract his statement which was deemed derogatory, and told to apologise.
He issued an apology to the community, including all previous contestants and the entire Kadazandusun community, but maintained that he was doing his job for his client and that his statement was at the sole discretion of the judge at the time.
Kitingan said that the Huguan Siou had directed the KDCA to erect an oath stone within the buildings’ grounds listing the most important customs and traditions of the community, as a reminder of the do’s and don’ts to prevent such an incident from recurring.
“Each village is also encouraged to erect their own oath stone or any permanent notice, listing down their customs and traditions, which must be respected by the community members and outsiders who come into the village,” he said.