A court submission, written by a lawyer, comparing the annual harvest festival Unduk Ngadau pageant to an "exotic cattle show" that feels like an "auction show" has sparked anger among the people in Sabah
The submission, which has been sighted by SAYS, was shared on Facebook on Friday, 11 June by several people including former Sabah education and innovation assistant minister Jennifer Lasimbang.
"This is absolutely disgusting," the former assistant minister said in her post that has since gone viral.
According to the submission, it is part of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku Rakyat Sabah's (STAR) former Putatan parliamentary coordinator Phillip Among's molestation cases for which he was charged on 10 June. The name of the lawyer in the submission says that it was written by Phillip's defence counsel Marcel Jude.
On the day his client was charged at the Kota Kinabalu Magistrate's Court, counsel Marcel had argued that the politician was "like any man" who may have weaknesses but should not be judged on them.
However, despite it being part of Phillip's case, journalists who attended the court proceeding claimed that Marcel made no mention of what was written in the submission, reported The Vibes yesterday, 12 June.
In the submission, the lawyer says that there is "nothing outstanding about these women" who participate in the Unduk Ngadau contest as there are more outstanding women outside who don't get to be in it
The lawyer also bizarrely said that an investigation by police into a beauty contest is a waste of time in the pandemic when the contest did not even contribute anything towards the COVID-19 victims in Sabah.
Using the acronym UNK, he wrote that Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan is an "exercise of pride, a project in vanity, and the essence of body shaming" because it's "only for women of hourglass porportions [sic]".
The lawyer then goes on to write, "the UNK contest is not about women, it is just a contest, it doesn't incorporate all women, whatever their talents and skills and education and abilities but it is nothing more than an exotic cattle show and almost feel like an auction show There is nothing outstanding about these women and there (are) more women outstanding outside but they don't get to be the contestants."
The UNK is a throwback to a former period where women are only objects of desire to be paraded around in an extravagant pet show.
Marcel, however, has tried to distance himself from the written submission by claiming that media should check with journalists who were present during the court proceeding to see what he actually said then.
"Do not misquote me. I will give a statement in due course," Malaysiakini quoted him as saying yesterday.
The lawyer has been chastised for his remarks by women and activists
Lawyer cum activist Shireen Sikayun took to her Facebook profile to call out the offending remarks.
"In our multiracial community, one ought to be sensitive to the feelings of other communities. For a person who was born and brought up in Sabah, the statements made were outrageous, demeaning, and wholly insensitive to the feelings of the orang asal with whom he would have had frequent interactions as a local himself," she said while asking for the authorities to take action against the lawyer unless he apologises.
Shireen also said that if any of the Unduk Ngadau contestants, who may feel slighted and aggrieved by the lawyer's remarks, can contact her for legal advice that she will offer on a pro bono basis.
A Kadazan woman has also lodged a police report over the remarks
The woman, Audrey Susan Tonggolou, lodged the report yesterday at the Karamunsing police station.
She said that she feels "disgusted, offended and appalled" by what she read in the submission.
"Whether it is used in court or not, it is completely irrelevant. The remarks seriously degrade the culture and tradition of the Kadazandusun ethnic group," The Vibes quoted the woman as saying.
She hopes the authorities will take the matter seriously and act against those who made such remarks.