Monthly Archives: May 2008

Lessons in surviving the local music industry by Kadazandusun’s best ever male vocalist, Evaristus Gungkit

In my opinion, he’s the best ever Kadazandusun singer. Better than even the legendary John Gaisah. Of all the local artistes, he’s the one of whom I have purchased the most original albums.

I first heard him back in 1992 when absolutely everybody was singing his biggest hit, and to me still is the greatest song ever written in the Kadazandusun language, “Kada Tilombuso Sinduolnu.” Unsurprisingly, his first album is still his best-selling ever.

I first saw and heard him sing live onstage during the 1994 Kota Kinabalu Unduk Ngadaus at the Community Hall. He was singing, appropriately the song “Unduk Ngadau” from his 2nd album then as he led the participants to the stage.

For once, I was entranced more by the singing than the participants! In fact, I thought that that performance was better than the studio version of the song in the album.

I have heard him sing various times since then. But the biggest thrills were when he sang “Kada Tilombuso Sinduolnu” live during a wedding reception, many years after I last heard it, when the hosts specially requested for it. Then there was that other occasion when I did not even realise that he was sitting in front of me at another wedding reception at Dewan Tun Fuad. The hosts called out for Evaristus, and there he was standing up and making his way to the stage. He sang the classic but overplayed “The Wedding.” In most cases I would’ve turned off, but I must say what I heard was the best rendition of that song since Julie Rogers’ original way back in 1965! Needless to say, when Evaristus returned to his seat, I shook his hand and profusely congratulated him.

Then just now I saw an article done by Valentine Sianggal Jr on my favourite Sabahan singer at, which was a great article on his experiences all these years.

I summarise:

He was born 1966 (now 42) at Kg Kituntul, Tambunan.

He was champion of Bintang Kaamatan 1991 (now known as Sugandoi Kaamatan). In fact he also competed in 1990 but did not get any placing.

He has produced 4 solo albums and a karaoke album:
- 1992: Kada Tilombuso Sinduolnu: sold very well, his best-seller
- 1994: Ika Tinongkiadan Ku;
- 1996: Rombituon;
- 2000: Sondukut
- 2006: Evaristus Gungkit Top 10 (Karaoke versions of his most popular songs)

He made it to the last 8 of Bintang RTM 1992.

In 1995, he won the Sabah State Civil Service singing competition.

He’s married to Hilda George Mool and has 4 kids.

When he first started out, he thought he could go professional. His experiences told him otherwise: being a singer in the Kadazandusun language does not provide enough income to justify doing it full time. Being popular does not mean a high income level. Hence, singing has been relegated to just a hobby, providing income on the side.

His first album, “Kada Tilombuso Sinduolnu” sold very well. He didn’t have to rely on royalties from the recording company because he marketed the album via his own label. He also paid for the making of that album with his own money. Demand from music shops were also good at that time. Unfortunately things went downhill for the next albums.

The sales of his subsequent albums generated just enough income to pay for itself in order to produce the next album.

This is a real eye opener and a very honest advice.

One saving grace is the fact that he’s still being invited to perform during functions, most notably by RTM Sabah and the Sabah Cultural Board.

His advice to aspiring artistes: explore all avenues to show off your talent. Be well prepared, including attending vocal classes. Do not rely on just luck.

… the sales figures would go up, keep your fingers crossed …

Bujang Sukau: the murderous crocodile at Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Of all the supposedly 1,000 crocodiles at Tuaran Crocodile Farm, this one fascinates me the most:

According to the label on the wall:

Name: Bujang Sukau
Age: 70 years
Length: 19 feet
Weight: 3,000 pounds [this guy definitely doesn't need Phentermine, he's naturally massive]
Profile: Killed a man in Kinabatangan River in 2006 & bit off the leg of a man in February 2007.

Here’s another view of that guy:

Now I am having nightmares of accidentally falling into that pit.

The most expensive handbags in Malaysia can be purchased in Tuaran

These handbags do not even carry world-famous brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton or the like, yet they carry eye-popping pricetags. And they are located not in KLCC, Mid Valley or even Kota Kinabalu, but rather the small town of Tuaran.

All the handbags cost at least RM4,000, including this one which cost a whopping RM30,888:

Personally speaking, even if I had the money, it does not look very appealing.

I’d much rather prefer this green one:

Yes, of course I’m talking about the handbags and other accessories made of crocodile skin at Tuaran Crocodile Farm.

Everthing made of crocodiles inside that shop (and the shop next to it) is freaking expensive, even this one foot long stuffed croc baby cost RM150:

The cashier said they were made in Singapore. I should’ve asked another question: how many people have bought things from here so far? Possibly even less than the number of people who’ve heard of a Bugaboo stroller.

Take a guess: how long ago was this awning last been cleaned?

I was up on an errand at a major township in Penampang, when up on the first floor, I saw this:

If that was a human face, it looks like it’s in dire need of an acne skin care lotion.

It was easily reachable, yet cleaning was not done. Who’s responsible for cleaning this, the District Council or the shopowner?

Perhaps the next question is: how many cigarette butts can you see?

Don’t you just hate it when, in a hurry to go to work, this happens?

Car breakdowns and other personal emergencies aside, some things that’s totally beyond your control just spoil your mood.

On the morning of 12th May 2008, this sight confronted me on the only way out to work:

Later on the same day, I was out purchasing spare parts for my car at the famous Hup Seng Heng car spareparts dealer in Kolombong when someone came in to buy a car window glass. Apparently he discovered his car had been broken into at Beverly Hills:

Then how about the amazing traffic jam of 30th April 2008? It had never been this bad before. A journey that normally takes a few minutes stretched to 45 minutes. Strangely there were no accidents or anything visible that one could blame for the situation, which never repeated itself again, so far.

You have anything similar experiences you’d like to share?

The Donggongon roundabout sigah controversy: which way should it be facing?

UPDATE 29th May 2008: A little bird informed that the sigah cost RM400,000.


This is generating some controversy.

In Daily Express’ forum on the 18th May 2008, Sylvester Disimon, Chairman of the Penampang Branch of Kadazan Society Sabah (KSS) wrote in essence:

Since the Sigah is such an important traditional headgear, with which the Kadazandusun community is identified, not just in Penampang but throughout Sabah, the Sigah monument should not have been located at the roundabout in the first place.

However, he wrote that since construction has started, go ahead, but there’s some issue with the direction it’s facing. It should serve its purpose i.e. welcome visitors driving towards the direction of Donggongon from the Penampang bypass.

As of now, it is facing the opposite direction.

This is what one would see when approaching the roundabout while driving towards the direction of Donggongon on the Penampang bypass:

For those who are not familiar with the area, here’s an image from Google Earth which shows the position of the roundabout relative to surrounding areas:

He further wrote that the Penampang District Council, who is also Penampang District Officer, said that the Council decided that the Sigah should face the rising sun i.e. the East. At the same time, it is also appropriately facing Mount Kinabalu.

Disimon wrote that both reasons are unacceptable, because the former is talking about Feng Shui, and due to most Penampangites being Christians, this should not be taken into consideration. As for the latter, it’s like leading people to their “final resting place on the mountain”.

Disimon wrote that he had contacted Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, the Member of Parliament for Penampang on the matter, who basically said he didn’t have “strong views on the matter” and that “either way is ok.”

What do you think? Which way should it be facing?

Have you ever had a schoolmate like this?

I did my A-Levels at Felsted School, a private school in England back in the 80s. And no, I didn’t have a privileged upbringing, I was just an ordinary kampung boy who somehow ended up there (will talk about that in another post).

In the same school, a year my senior was a certain Sheila Nicholls.

In May 1989 Nicholls, then 19, was suddenly a hot topic at the school due to her exploit: performed cartwheels while streaking at an England versus Australia cricket match at arguably the world’s top cricket pitch, Lord’s Ground in London. Yes, she was totally naked then live on TV.Pashmina shawls were not on her, definitely.

I can still remember the front page of The Sun: HOWZAT, with Nicholls and a smiling Sir Ian Botham, one of cricket’s greatest ever players, in the same frame. The video footage was apparently then included in the video Streaker, narrated by George Best.

The Sun is the UK’s top tabloid newspaper, the largest English-language daily newspaper by circulation, in fact it has the highest circulation of any daily English-language newspaper in the world, with millions of copies being sold daily, so you can imagine her fame in our male-dominated school then.

Back then, I could see how skilled and how determined the tabloid pros dig for dirt. Somehow they romantically linked her to one of our science teachers. It was quite unreal to see his name being mentioned in the paper. If I remember correctly, he disappeared for a while, presumably to let things cool down before returning to the school to teach. Needless to say, usually rowdy classes went very quiet when he first made his reappearance.

Later in the year, against her family’s wishes, Nicholls went to the US and began performing with her band, Sheila Nicholls and the Splendid Frock, and achieved moderate success.

Her song “Fallen For You” was included in the 2000 Hollywood flick High Fidelity which starred amongst others, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack, Jack Black and Tim Robbins. In promoting her album Brief Strop which contained that song, she toured extensively, and even had several gigs alongside k.d. lang.

Now based in LA, in 2002, she released her second album, Wake. The following video is of that album’s first single, “Faith.” It made the charts.

Click here to see the video

Newsreports of cases of too much “aramai ti” [part 2]

I last blogged about this last year, appropriately towards the end of the year.

Now here we are again in the month of May, of which many Sabahans would know the meaning.

So I think it’s good to remind ourselves not to overindulge.

The following two cases reported in the newspapers happened neither at the end of the year nor in May, meaning it can happen anytime.

My all-time favourite “too much aramai ti” newsreport: Daily Express, 21st February 2002:

The following is grimmer: Daily Express, 7th January 2008:

Sadly the above was not the first time such a thing has happened. It also happened to a schoolmate of mine many years ago.

Happy Kaamatan & take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

… if needed, go for disability insurance …

Do you think these songs are good enough for Akademi Fantasia 6 (AF6) finalists?

There was a songwriting competition by MAESTRO which ended recently. Those selected will get the exposure afforded by Akademi Fantasia (AF) 6 finalists.

Here are two of our submissions.

All vocals, melody, arrangement, lyrics done by the respective composers.

By Ezbon a.k.a. Golib: “Kembalikan Senyum”

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By Mackley a.k.a Bodidi: “Kepalsuan Hidup”

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Everything recorded and done in a home studio by Ezbon, an entirely self-taught musician and home recording expert:

He’s also proficient in jingle-making and songwriting.

More details, or if you want engage his expertise, please do leave a note.


Unmissable photo opportunity with YB Khairy Jamaluddin

[edited 31st October 2008]

On the afternoon of 2nd May, before the Malaysian Press Awards later on the same day, my brother had the rare opportunity to pay a visit to the office of YB Khairy Jamaluddin, 32, *the* son-in-law, the deputy chief of UMNO Youth, the Member of Parliament for Rembau, and the man prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin called “the most powerful man in Malaysia” in 2005.

After a very interesting 30-minute chat in his Manchester United paraphernalia-laden office, during which he impressed with his friendly demeanour and detailed knowledge of the goings-on on the ground in Sabah, they had time to take this one and only photo: