top of page
  • Wartawan Nabalu News

Encouraging support for ‘Momogun’ to replace ‘Others’ on official Government forms

From left to right (Carl, Datuk Raymond, Dr Raymond, Datuk Henrynus). Bottom left to right (Ronnie, Datuk Philip, Datuk Clement, Katherine).

27 April 2024

By Nabalu News Journalist

KOTA KINABALU: A call by the Kadamaian assemblyman Datuk Ewon Benedick to use “Momogun” to replace “Others” in official government forms has garnered a positive response from many.

Ewon, the president of United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO), proposed that the Sabah Government gather indigenous ethnic groups in the State under the category of Momogun to replace the 'Others' section in official government forms.

He highlighted that using the term 'Others' does not reflect respect for the indigenous ethnic groups, especially considering Malaysia's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In the State Assembly, Ewon suggested initiating discussions with stakeholders, including the Federal Government, to find a more realistic and progressive ethnic group term for official forms.

This was promptly backed by Former Momogun National Congress (MNC) President, Datuk Henrynus Amin, who applauded Ewon Benedick, for highlighting the aspiration of the Dusunic, Murutic and Paitanic indigenous community in Sabah to be collectively called Momogun instead of the acronym "KDMRS" during his recent speech in the Sabah State Legislative Assembly.

Henrynus, who is also President of Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri, in a statement said the national aspiration of the Dusunic Murutic and Paitanic tribal community in Sabah is to be officially recognised under a common classification in official forms and included in the national data system.

He said in the last 60 years the Dusunic Murutic and Paitanic tribal community who are indigenous to Borneo and who are closely related in terms of geographic origin, language, culture and genetic were divided and denied a common national identity.

Meanwhile, the United Sabah Lotud Association (USLA) also announced in a statement that they fully support the proposal by the Kadamaian assemblyman, to replace the term "lain-lain" (others) in government forms with "Momogun."

USLA's president, Datuk Raymond Tombung, emphasised that the current term is condescending and fails to recognise the importance of Sabah's original peoples in the Malaysian Federation. Raymond, who is also Star Sabah's Advisor, highlighted the long-standing opposition to the term "lain-lain" and expressed that the term "Momogun" is most suitable as it represents all the original peoples of Sabah, who are diverse in dialects and sub-groups.

A random survey showed support of the community to the word ‘Momogun’ to replace the ‘dan lain-lain’ term.

Datuk Phillip Lasimbang, the Chairman of the Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF), expressed his full support for the proposal and sees no reason why it cannot be implemented, considering it is a more respectful alternative to the term 'others'.

"This is my personal viewpoint, which I believe resonates with many others, although I have yet to consult the Members of the Boards of Trustees for KLF," he shared.

Ronnie Onginjan, a 67-year-old resident of Kg Kimihang Matunggung and a respected Rungus Church leader and Singer-Composer, strongly supports the adoption of the term Momogun, as it has historically been used by the Rungus community to refer to themselves.

"Momogun signifies our identity as the indigenous people of Sabah, emphasizing our connection to the land. Changing the generic label 'others' in official government forms would hold significant meaning for us," he emphasised. Ronnie, who actively promotes the Rungus language through his music, is also engaged in the production of Virgin Coconut Oil.

Professor Dr Raymond Majumah a writer of Rungus origin from Kudat has written a book called “Rungus : Peribumi Momogun Sabah” which clearly shows his support and self-identification as a Momogun or people of Sabah. Loosely translated this book means ‘ Rungus: the Native People of Sabah”.

“The term "Momogun" has its roots in the original terminology that encompassed all ethnic groups of Kadazan-Dusun-Murut-Rungus-Sungai (KDMRS) in the past. Both Western scholars and the people of Sabah are familiar with this historical context. This term is highly appropriate for individuals belonging to the KDMRS ethnic groups, now collectively known as KDM. It is a fitting and meaningful designation for these ethnicities,” he said.

Ewon’s Political Secretary Carl Mosoom said he was all in favour of the change and hopes that it will be agreed upon and implemented.

For UPKO Woman leader Datin Juliana Janni, Momogun word is the ultimate name instead of KDMRS.

“Some people have expressed the opinion that "Momogun" refers to a community that resides in a particular area. It can also be interpreted as including other non-Dusunic races who are considered natives as well. However, it is important to note that "Momogun" is a term specific to the Dusunic community, encompassing all of its sub-ethnic groups such as the Dusunic, Paitanic, Murutic people and so on.”

Unfortunately, there are political leaders who oppose the use of the term "Momogun" simply because it is an initiative by another party. It is worth questioning whether they truly prefer to continue using the term "KDMRS." Politics should not influence decisions regarding cultural and ethnic identity, she opined.

Kathirina Tati Sitaim, a prominent local writer, advocated for the change to 'Momogun' as a more respectful alternative to being categorized under 'dan lain-lain', which she finds condescending.

However, she raised a valid concern about whether 'Momogun' would serve as a blanket term for all Sabahans or if there should be separate terms for groups not covered under the Kadazandusun Murut Rungus (KDMRS) category.

Jesse Joy, a book vendor specialising in Borneo literature, concurred that 'Momogun' is a fitting term for the people but acknowledged that it may not fully encompass all Sabahans.

Mathius Manang a retired teacher and a writer agrees, saying that there was a bid to call locals as bumiputra before and as such changing it into Momogun is agreeable. As long as there is a consensus as such.

A retired Government Servant who declined to be named said it should be implemented as it is one step further for the identification of the current generation.

Datuk Clement Jaikul who served with North Borneo Police Force and rose to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner had escorted members of the Cobbold Commission in Sandakan during their fact-finding mission and later assisted in identifying potential insurgents during the proclamation of Malaysia.

He witnessed the transition from British North Borneo to Malaysia.

When asked about the Momogun identity to be inserted to identify the KDMRS, he said “If we go back to early history, we are all called Dayak and it is officially recorded in government documents. Even today there is a move to revive the Dayak spirit in Sabah,” he answered.

Momogun is an agreeable term but he also suggests that ‘Pasok Momogun’ is a good term too, as it meant People of the land.

Others who had responded to the random survey but declined to be quoted agreed that ‘Momogun’ is better than ‘Others’ in official government forms and that it should be implemented.


bottom of page