Malang sekali buat UMNO kerana antara kualiti calon mereka yang dibanggakan oleh UMNO adalah pengalaman beliau menjawat jawatan DO di Pejabat Tanah Daerah Segamat. Tulang Besi pun dah dapat maklumat ini semalam tetapi menunggu pendedahan rasmi dari pimpinan PAS.
Kalau pengalaman calon BN sebagai DO tidak boleh dijadikan hujjah, apa lagi sebab yang wujud untuk memilih beliau???
UNDILAH CIKGU NORMALA SUDIRMAN
Calon BN cuai sebagai ADO
LABIS, 25 Jan: Calon BN untuk Pilihan Raya Kecil Dun Tenang didakwa cuai dalam menjalankan tugasnya sebagai pegawai kerajaan sebelum ini dan pernah disaman kerana melelong tanah tanpa pengetahuan tuan tanah.
Naib Presiden PAS, Salahudin Ayub mendedahkan calon BN, Mohd Azahar Ibrahim didapati cuai dan lalai ketika memegang jawatan Penolong Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Segamat sehingga disaman pada tahun 2004 oleh tuan tanah, Mansor Mohamad.
Katanya, Azahar yang dikenali dengan panggilan Tok Ai telah disaman di Mahkamah Tinggi Muar melalui Saman Pemula No: 24 (L) - 674-2004 berkaitan kes siasatan hartanah HS (M) 535, Lot 2091, Mukim Jabi, Daerah Segamat.
Menurut beliau, disebabkan kecuaian dan kelalaian Azahar yang ketika itu sebagai Penolong Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Segamat telah mengakibatkan satu Perintah Jualan ke atas hartanah Mansor Mohamad pada 18 September 2009.
"Kerana kecuaian Tok Ai tanah tersebut secara tidak sah telah dilelong pada 1 Disember 2003 dengan harga RM70,000," ujarnya.
Beliau kesal dengan kecuaian Tok Ai yang menyebabkan tuan tanah, Mansor menjadi mangsa kezaliman kerana hartanahnya dilelong kepada pihak ketiga tanpa pengetahuan beliau.
Jus! teru kat a beliau, disebabkan kecuaian dan kelalaian itu telah mengakibatkan nama baik dan intergriti Pejabat Pentadbir Tanah Segamat terjejas teruk sekaligus menghakis keyakinan rakyat pada ketelusan Pejabat Tanah Daerah Segamat.
Pesuruhjaya Kehakiman Mahkamah Tinggi Muar, Yang Arif Hakim Dato' Asmadi Asnawi telah membenarkan tuntutan Mansor ke atas Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Segamat pada 29 Januari 2008 dengan kos akibat kecuaian Tok Ai mengendalikan isu tersebut.
Salahudin yang juga Pengarah Pilihan Raya Dun Tenang mempersoalkan mengapa calon yang telah dibuktikan oleh Mahkamah cuai dan lalai dalam melaksanakan tugas awam masih dicalonkan untuk PRK Dun Tenang.
"Tidakkah tindakan Umno ini membuktikan Umno tidak menghiraukan isu integriti dan kompetensi seorang calon bagi mewakili rakyat atau pengundi Dun Tenang," tegasnya.
Beliau yakin dengan pendedahan itu membuktikan bahawa Umno memang sengaja menyembunyikan fakta-fakta tersebut kerana bimbang pengundi Dun Tenang akan menolak calon Umno-BN.
Merujuk rekod buruk Tok Ai, Azahar Ibrahim, PAS yakin dan percaya rakyat Dun Tenang tidak akan tertipu dengan janji-janji manis beliau untuk menyelesikan maalah tanah di Labis.
Ini kerana katanya, fakta dan keterangan tersebut jelas menunjukkan tanah rakyat dengan mudah telah dilelong dengan secara tidak sah.
"Kami menyeru pengundi Dun Tenang jangan gadaikan maruah dan masa depan anak bangsa dengan memilih calon Umno yang terbukti didapati bersalah oleh Mahkamah kerana menganiayai rakyat," tegasnya.
Salahudin menegaskan pendedahan itu bukan merupakan serangan peribadi calon tetapi ia menyentuh isu integriti dan kelayakan Azahar (Tok Ai) untuk menjadi calon di Dun Tenang.
And here is the rest of it.
Tough questions which could not be dodged regarding the vacancy of N. 46. Is the Speakers decision correct? Will the Election Commission call a by-election? Or will the Court intervene? Have you heard of the A70 Defining View, the Absent Sitting View and the Continuum Of Time View? LoyarBurok does public service yet again here. All you need to know regarding N. 46, really.
Speaker v Badrul @ Malaysiakini
On 19 January 2011, Teng Chang Khim, Speaker of the Selangor Legislative Assembly (SLA) declared that pursuant to Article 69 of the Laws of the Constitution of Selangor 1959 (SSC)Badrul Hisham bin Abdullah had vacated his seat - N. 46 Pelabuhan Kelang - as of 16 January 2011.
Article 69 SSC states as follows:
If a member of the Legislative Assembly is without the leave of the Speaker absent from every sitting thereof for a period of six months his seat shall be declared vacant by the Speaker.
The Speaker issued a Media Statement on 19 January 2011 explaining the reasons for his declaration.
I assume that the facts of Badruls attendance record stated by the Speaker are accurate. I have also assumed that the Speakers decision to refuse Badrul leave of absence is correct. In the Kota Siputeh case, the High Court held that it is in the Speakers discretion to grant leave or not, while the Election Commission (EC) has no say in the question.
In coming to his decision on Article 69, the Speaker focused his attention on the "period of six months" and asked from when did the period begin to run. Was it to run from 16 July 2010 (i.e., a day after Badrul last attended the last SLA sitting on 15 July) or 8 November 2010 (i.e., the first day Badrul was absent when the next SLA sitting was held)? If it was to be from 16 July, then Badruls seat was correctly declared vacant as six months had elapsed by 16 January 2011. If it was to be from 8 November, then Badruls seat could not have been declared vacant as six months only expires in May 2011.
There are three different views.
I. The A70 Defining View
In deciding that the period of six months was to be computed from 16 July 2010, the Speaker said:
To look at Article LXIX  in isolation will not help to give it a proper interpretation. It has to be read in harmony or in consistent with other related provisions in the State Constitution.
I find that Article LXX(1) [70(1)] of the State Constitution is of great help. Article LXX provides that:-
"His Highness shall from time to time by Proclamation published in the Gazette summon the Legislative Assembly and shall not allow six months to elapse between the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session."
It is obvious that the Legislative Assembly when passing Article LXX of the State Constitution intends that the Legislative Assembly shall have at least one sitting within 6 months after the last sitting or otherwise His Highness shall summon a new session[s].
That is to say, if the Legislative Assembly does not sit in six months after the last sitting, His Highness will have to summon the first meeting o! f the ne w session. For instance, if the first sitting of the first session is held in 1 March and the State Assembly does not sit in six months, His Highness by virtue of Article LXX shall then summon the first meeting of the 2nd session latest on 1 September which means there will be 2 sessions in a year. That will go against the convention of Selangor Legislative Assembly where there is only one session in a year.
Order 10(1) of the Selangor Legislative Assembly Standing Order also provides that:-
"The sessions of the Assembly shall be held at such places, and every meeting of the Assembly shall open on such day and at such hour, as His Royal Highness may appoint. The first meeting of every session shall be held as the Opening Ceremony of the Session. The Ceremony shall be officiated by His Royal Highness."
That means if the Legislative Assembly does not sit in six months after the last sitting, there will be 2 Opening Ceremonies in a year and His Royal Highness will have to officiate the Legislative Assembly twice in a year. That has never been the convention of Selangor or any Parliaments or Legislative Assemblies in the Commonwealth. And that could not be the intention of the Legislative Assembly.
As such, the intention of Legislative Assembly when enacting Articles LXIX and LXX was clear that the Legislative Assembly shall sit at least once in six months and the computation of six months begins from the date after the last sitting.
Simply put, the Speaker defines the six month period in Article 69 by the six month period mentioned in Article 70 to conclude that time continues to run between "the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session". According to Speaker, thelast relevant sitting (4th day/sitting, 2nd meeting, 3rd session of the 12th SLA 2010) in this case was held on 15 July before Badrul was absent at all the sittings in the next session (3rd meeting, 3rd session of the 12th SLA 2010) held on 8 - 15 November 2010. The period of 6 months therefore ran from 16 July 2010 to 16 January 2011. N. 46 is therefore vacant.
II. The Absent Sitting View
Badrul may well argue that one would only be absent at sittings within the meaning of Article 69 where there are sittings called and held. If there are no sittings, no Assemblyperson should be penalised for non-attendance because it is impossible to attend a non-event. The firstsitting Badrul was absent from was the sitting on 8 November 2010 and thus the period of six months runs from then.
In support of this general principle, Badruls legal team would cite cases such as In re London & Northern Bank, McConnells Claim  1 Ch. 728 and Alexander Hannah Fowler v. Falkirk Council & Mary Pitcaithly  CSOH 36 to argue that the period of six months in Article 69 "cannot begin until the date of the first meeting which the member fails to attend" and that there "can be no failure to attend until there has been a meeting which might have been, but was not, attended" (see Alexander).
III. The Continuum Of Time View
In discussing this 3rd view, it is significant to note the way the SSC defines the terms "meeting" and "session". Article 46 states as follows:
"meeting" means any sitting or sittings of a Legislative Assembly commencing when the Assembly first meets after being summoned at any time and terminating when the Assembly is adjourned sine die or at the conclusion of a session without adjournment;
"session" means the sittings of a Legislative Assembly commencing when the Assembly first meets after being established or after its prorogation or dissolution at any time and terminating when the Assembly is prorogued or dissolved without having been prorogued;
The term "sitting" (used in Article 69) is not defined in the SSC bu! t is def ined in Standing Order 86 of the SLA as "a period during which the Assembly is sitting continuously apart from any suspension without adjournment, and includes any period during which the Assembly is in Committee".
Every sitting must be held as part of a meeting and session. Without a sitting, there can be no legal meeting and session. From reading extracts of the Hansard of the Kedah Legislative Assembly and the SLA available to me, in effect one "sitting" is each of the days the respective Assemblies sit. At the end of each day or each sitting, the respective Assemblies are adjourned. By the end of a stretch of a few days or sittings, the Assemblies are adjournedsine die. When the Assemblies are so adjourned,the particular "meeting" (i.e., a "meeting" defined as the collective number/stretch of sittings) is concluded.
Take a live example in respect of the 8 - 15 November 2010 sittings of the SLA:
8th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 9th
9th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 10th
10th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 11th
11th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 12th
12th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 13th
13th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 14th
14th = 1 sitting adjourned to the 15th
15th = 1 sitting adjourned sine die
Under the SSC, the 8 sittings are collectively known as a "meeting" because the sittings terminated when the SLA adjourned sine die.
Note however that the SLA was not/has not been prorogued or dissolved by His Royal Highness of Selangor pursuant to Article 70(2). What this means is that the SLA is still in "session" - in one session which continues to run today - whether sittings are called or not. The 12th SLA has been in one "session" since the first time the SLA met (I understand this 1st sitting, 1st meeting, 1st session was held on 21 May 2008) after being first established post-March 2008 elections.
The legal team representing the Speaker of the Kedah Legislativ! e Assemb ly in the Kota Siputeh case took this point (note that the definitions used in the SSC and the Kedah State Constitution as well as the respective Standing Orders are similar) in support of another argument in that case. The High Court at paragraphs  -  of the judgment found favour with our interpretation and said at paragraphs  - :
As stated earlier the power to prorogue is a discretionary power of HRH under Article 53(2) acting on the advice of the state executive council under Article 39(1); therefore the exercise of such power cannot to my mind be inferred, implied or deemed but must be expressly exercised by HRH in accordance with the provisions of Article 53(2) read together with Article 39(1).
 Therefore in the absence of any evidence that HRH has express[ed]ly exercised his power to prorogue under Article 53(2), I would agree with counsel for the applicant that it was as a matter of administrative expediency that the meeting on August 9, 2009 is described as the first meeting of the second session in the said proclamation. In law, however, based on the definition of "session" in Article 2, the meaning of prorogation as expounded by Erskine Mays Treatise (supra), and the provisions of Article 53(2) (read together with Article 39(1)) as set out above, there was no second session.
At paragraph , the High Court ruled:
Accordingly even though the meeting on April 19, 2009 was termed the fifth meeting (of the first session) and the meeting on August 9, 2009 was termed the first meeting (of the second session) in law under the Kedah State Constitution, both meetings were held in a single session because after the meeting on April 19, 2009 the Legislative Assembly was never prorogued by HRH. It was merely adjourned until its resumption on August 9[,] 2009.
For the purpose of computing the period of six months in Article 69, what this means is that time for each Assemblyperson has been (and it still is) running since 21 May 2008 as the SLA is still in! one ses sion. Take 21 May 2008 as the starting-point and ask if any Assemblyperson has been absent in every sitting held for six months and you would get your answer.
I prefer the Continuum Of Time View for the following reasons:
1. With respect to the Speakers A70 Defining View, it is submitted that Article 70 only requires that no more than six months elapses from one session to the next. I do not think it was drafted to be read with or to define Article 69 though it may be argued - as the Speaker has - that Article 70 is merely a guide to discovering the intent of the drafters of the SSC. Further, as explained in the Continuum Of Time View, it is a common assumption - which is fallacious - among State Legislative Assemblies that a session concludes even without a prorogation of the House by the Ruler. Thus, if there has only been one session of the SLA so far, Article 70 is quite irrelevant because the six month period therein between sessions would not have started to run.
2. The Absent Sitting View is valid as a principle of general application in the usual cases involving meetings. It is inapplicable in the case of a State Legislative Assembly which has been and still is in session since 21 May 2008. Time has been running since then.
3. The literal interpretation of Article 69 - which the Continuum Of Time View takes - should be adopted because if Article 69 was intended to exclude time from running during periods the SLA is not sitting (though in session), a proviso to this effect would have been inserted. Compare Article 69 SSC with Article 101(4) of the Constitution of India:
If for a period of sixty days a member of either House of Parliament is without permission of the House absent from all meetings thereof, the House may declare his seat vacant:
Provided that in computing the said period of sixty days no account shall be taken of any period during which the House is prorogued or is adjourned for more than four consecutive days.
C! ompare A rticle 69 SSC with Article 190(4) of the Constitution of India:
If for a period of sixty days a member of a House of the Legislature of a State is without permission of the House absent from all meetings thereof, the House may declare his seat vacant:
Provided that in computing the said period of sixty days no account shall be taken of any period during which the House is prorogued or is adjourned for more than four consecutive days.
Article 69 SSC does not have such a proviso to exclude time when the SLA "is prorogued or is adjourned for more than four consecutive days" as in the Indian Constitution. If there was such a proviso, Badrul and the Absent Sitting View would be correct. As there is no such proviso, Article 69 must be read as including, completely, the time when the SLA is in session, i.e., the Continuum Of Time View. Badruls seat is vacant because the six months period runs from 21 May 2008.
These are some questions that have been asked pertaining to N. 46. I attempt to answer them here.
1. Can the Speakers decision be challenged in Court, whether by the EC or Badrul?
Anyone may file a case in Court. Whether the Court will allow or dismiss the claim is a different question. Articles 69 and 70(5) SSC read together says that:
(a) The Speaker is under a constitutional duty to declare a seat vacant if an Assemblyperson is absent from every sitting of the SLA for a period of six months. It is a mandatory responsibility on the Speaker of the House.
(b) Once a seat is declared vacant, it must be filled within 60 days from the date on which it occurs. Again, this is a mandatory provision.
(c) Unlike the Laws of the Constitutions of Perak and Kedah, there is no mention of the EC establishing the vacancy. In Selangor, the EC has only to decide the date of the by-election upon notification of the vacancy of N. 46 by the Speaker. The Federal Court in Jamaluddin bin Mohd Radzi & Ors v Sivakumar a/! l Varath araju Naidu (claimed as Yang Dipertua Dewan Negeri Perak Darul Ridzuan), Election Commission, intervener  4 MLJ 593 hadsaid at paragraph :
It must be noted that the word establish only appears in the Constitutions of Sabah, Kelantan, Malacca, Pahang, Penang, Perlis, Sarawak, Kedah and Perak and the Federal Constitution. It is clear therefore that in the case of a casual vacancy of the State seats of these States, except Sabah, and of a seat in the House of Representatives, the Election Commission has been given the power to establish a casual vacancy. However, the Sabah Constitution is silent as to which entity has the responsibility for establishing the casual vacancy. The Constitutions of the States of Johore, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Terengganu have intentionally omitted the establishment by the Election Commission of a casual vacancy.
2. Why does the EC say that the Federal Constitution applies to give the EC the mandate to establish vacancies in State seats?
As far as I can see from my copy of the Federal Constitution, the ECs jurisdiction extends to the House of Representatives and the Senate only, not the States. With regard to State seats, the respective State Constitutions are applicable.
3. Does the Sultan have any say in this?
No. The Sultan - fortunately or unfortunately - does not feature in the equation over N. 46 under the SSC.
4. Is there any legal recourse for the EC or Badrul?
If the EC disagrees with the Speaker then it will refuse to hold a by-election or take the matter to Court. I doubt very much if the Court will impugn the Speakers decision because Article 72 of the Federal Constitution immunises his decision from legal challenge. To be sure, the Speaker could well put the matter to rest by having a motion debated in the SLA regarding Badrul and ! the N. 4 6 vacancy. Once the motion is adopted ratifying the Speakers decision, the Court does not have jurisdiction to enquire into the matter even if the motion was wrongly passed: Gobind Singh Deo v Yang Dipertua, Dewan Rakyat & Ors  9 CLJ 449.
Badrul has filed a suit and we will wait and see. If the suit is couched in terms of the one filed by Zambry and his EXCO during the Perak Crisis, it may be different on the Badrul facts. In N. 46, the SLA Speaker has express power to declare N. 46 vacant under Article 69 SSC. This is clear. The exception carved out by the Federal Court in YAB Dato Dr Zambry Abd Kadir & Ors v YB Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu; Attorney-General Malaysia (Intervener)  4 CLJ 253 (which Badrul will rely on) only applies when interfering with a decision of a Speaker made without express legal power. It was held by the Federal Court that the then Perak Speaker had no express power to cite Zambry and his EXCO for contempt therefore the decision to suspend them was wrong.
The Speaker will continue to refuse entry to Badrul and stop Badruls privileges and payments as Assemblyperson. If a decision by the EC is made not to call a by-election, interested Selangorians and the Speaker may wish to file for mandamus to demand a by-election be held by the EC.
5. Can the Kota Siputeh case in Kedah set some kind of precedent or is the Selangor Consitution watertight when it comes to the non-interference of the EC?
The Kota Siputeh case will assist to the extent cited above. The EC cannot question the Speaker whether it was right or wrong for him not to have granted leave of absence to Badrul. In Kedah, the role of the EC in establishing a vacancy is stated in the Kedah Constitution whereas in Selangor it! is not. The High Court in the Kota Siputeh case was bound by the Federal Court to hold that the EC was the appropriate authority to establish the vacancy in Kedah. In Selangor, it is different because the Selangor Constitution does not give the EC any role in vacancy establishment. The ECs task is less onerous and it is only to fill a vacancy through a by-election.
Edmund was part of the team of counsel who represented Nizar and Sivakumar in the Perak Crisis litigation (have you got PASOC yet?) and Isa (Speaker of the Kedah Legislative Assembly) in the Kota Siputeh case. He wonders if donations will pour into LoyarBurok (Maybank Account No. 5127 6310 8627) for this post which may be used as submission by lawyers for the Speaker, Badrul and the EC. Answers to constitutional law questions are getting easier to find with the increasing number of constitutional law cases. The problem lies with the Courts churning out dazzling decisions that rewrite textbooks. Credit and much gratitude goes to my learned friends, Shamala Balasundaram, Adriana Leu, Derrick Chan and Audrey Lim for sharing their thoughts and research for this post.
Tags: Adriana Leu, Audrey Lim, Badrul Hisham bin Abdullah, Derrick Chan,! EC, Election Commission, Federal Constitution, Kedah Legislative Assembly, Kota Siputeh case, Laws of the Constitution of Selangor 1959, N. 46 Pelabuhan Kelang, Perak crisis, Selangor Legislative Assembly, Selangor State Constitution, Shamala Balasundaram, Speaker, Teng Chang Khim, The A70 Defining View, The Absent Sitting View, The Continuum Of Time View
Johor PAS deputy chief Dzulkefly Ahmad claimed today that Azahar had caused a private land to be auctioned illegally in 2003 resulting in a legal action against the Umno man.
It is unfortunate that Umno or the candidate has failed to share the facts with Tenang voters, Dzulkefly told a press conference.
The Umno candidate as the Segamat assistant land administrator had carelessly issued an order to sell off the property owned by Mansor Mohamad without his knowledge, he added. Dzulkefly said the land was auctioned in late 2003 for RM70,000.
Based on the above facts, the question is why a candidate which has been proven by court to be reckless and negligent in discharging his public duties was nominated by Umno to represent the Tenang constituency, said Dzulkefly.
Azahar was the Rengit assistant district officer when he resigned last week to enable him to contest in the January 30 by-election.
source: malaysian insider
Datuk Azhar Ibrahim(AI) sudah lupa dengan salah guna kuasa yang pernah dilakukan malah sudah diketahui oleh seluruh warga di Segamat! bangkai gajah mahu ditutup dengan tudung saji "Pelanduk mudah lupakan jerat" - milo suam
Baca seterusnya di sini.
A seasoned fieldworkers reminisicing her first fieldwork in the jungle alone.
The day my first boss hired me, I knew she wasnt entirely impressed with me. I had wanted to do fieldwork, and back then I hadnt exactly inspired any confidence as a possible long-term fieldworker. I looked too soft, too mild.
And yet, she had hired me on the strength of my reference, Kathy MacKinnon, a close friend of hers. Within the conservation circle that apparently is a big deal. I met MacKinnon at the World Bank, through my mentor at that time, when I was interning at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, in Washington D.C. MacKinnon was impressed by my earnestness to return to Malaysia and work in conservation, but admittedly knew nothing of my fieldwork skills whatsoever (there werent any then).
Despite her misgivings, my boss soon dispatched me to my first long-term assignment, to conduct diurnal primate fieldwork at Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary, Sarawak. I was to collect primate data via line transect, and boat surveys for a year.
Before I left for the field, my boss sat me down and told me about when she first arrived in Sarawa! k from t he United Kingdom, and carried out fieldwork in Samunsam: she hauled a 20 horsepower boat engine by herself, learnt how to maneuver a tiny boat through crocodile-infested swamps, and built a camp with her bare hands.
"Can you do all this too," said she, with a very straight face.
Feeling extremely overwhelmed, I squeaked an unconvincing yes.
"I think what you need to do at the very least is to camp in the jungle for a couple of days on your own. Perhaps then, we can tell that youre up to this."
So relieved that I didnt have to build a camp with my own bare hands knowing exactly what my carpentry skills are like (there are none), I eagerly took up the challenge.
I had been arguing with Pak Man, the boat driver for Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary for at least an hour.
"This cant be right. She cant be serious about sending you off on your own. It was fine for her, she is orang putih, and shes big-sized, so she can take care of herself, but you are not. Do you know how dangerous it is to be by yourself? Its not just the pontianak, but also there are many illegal hunters roaming around. Youre only a young girl. Who knows what they would do to you when they find out that you are by yourself. Youd be several hours away from help, and once I drop you off at the camp, there is no way of you getting back here on your own. Did I mention about the pontianak?"
There were two things I was certain at that time. There was no such thing as the pontianak, and even if there was, I was more terrified of my boss than any pontianak out there.
"Pak, she was so dead serious. And I need to do this; its my job on the line. Id be fine, Ive got my parang, you will pick me up in a couple of days, I can continue on with my fieldwork and everybody will be happy."
We argued back and forth, until he gave up and agreed to drop me off at the camp.
It was possibly the longest couple of hours of my life, going by boat through the swamps of Samunsam. I distracted myself by counting the number of individuals of each proboscis monkey group we came across. I grew increasingly nervous when we reached camp and it was dark from the thick peat undergrowth. I could barely make out the short pier until Pak pointed it out to me.
"Are you sure you want to do this. You can come back with me right now, and we?d make up a story for your boss about how you did it. No one will ever know the truth."
"But Pak, I would know, and it matters to me."
He shrugged and dropped me off at the pier.
"Follow the path, and it would take you to the hut your boss built. No one has lived in it for years and its run-down but since youve got your equipment, I guess youd be ok. Are you sure you want to do this?"
I thanked Pak for his kindness, and sent him off.
It was only three in the afternoon but because of the thick forest growth, it was already quite dark. As predicted by Pak Man, the hut was extremely run-down. It was an open hut, with three walls, the open face facing a crude table and bench. There was a small stream nearby, where I could take baths, and drinking water. The coucal had started its afternoon calls, and despite its initial appearance, the place was rather cosy.
My nervousness soon broke into self-pride: I was doing this, finally. As a teenager, I had dreams of doing fieldwork but didnt know whether I could do it and here I was, in my very own camp.
Soon I was making house, having laid my hammock as a campsheet on the hut, sweeping away leaves around the little compound, and getting dinner ready. Despite some nervousness about the growing darkness, I felt that I was at the right place, at the right time. This instinctiveness is something I grew to trust over the years, especially during more hairy situations.
The thing about bravery (or stupidity, I can never tell the difference) is that the fear of doing the unknown never really goes away. But you still do it anyway because it feels like there is no other choice. So there I was, watching the fire that I had built (my very first!) and thinking, "Darn, the fire makes the shadows really creepy."
I couldnt help but start thinking of the pontianak that shouldnt be existing. Having the fire felt like a beacon to all things scary and spooky in the jungle. Logically, I knew the fire should make me feel safe, but it only made me felt isolated.
And so what seemed at the time the most brilliant idea ever, I snuffed out the fire and went to bed. It was a huge mistake, for all the scary sounds and dark shadows that danced around the perimeter of the fires warmth, soon swooped around me. I wrapped myself tightly inside the sleeping bag, and counted the hours before daybreak. It was only seven in the evening.
It was going to be a very long night.
I cannot remember whether I slept at all that night, but I remember all the groaning, grunting, whispering around me. The hut was elevated, and so there was strange noises from below me as well.
The biologist in me told me that it must be wild pigs, yet the Catholic in me was freaking out, thinking of all sort of unholy things.
I dont think I have said that many Hail Marys, and Our Fathers in one night ever again, interspersed with swearing, and taking the Lords name in vain (sorry, mom).
The morning sun finally streamed through the pockets of the canopy. A family of gibbons was calling out to each other, and I, budding fieldworker, had survived my first night. I couldnt be more proud of myself.
The rest of the day was spent in a heady gaze. I discovered a couple of trails leading away from the camp, and explored them. I swam in the stream. I looked for prints and signs of wild boar around the camp because I certainly heard them the night before. And there were none.
I had two choices: I could believe that what I heard that night was likely of the supernatural, or I could believe that there was a logical earthly explanation that I didn?t know of yet. Naturally, I chose the latter.
The second night was like the previous night for all its unnerving groans and sighs, but this time, I had kept the fire burning. I was a lot more relaxed, for I had felt that if anything would have happened to me, it would be so on the first night.
I woke up on the second morning, triumphant and more refreshed. Pak Man was due to pick me up in a couple of hours, and so I spent the morning packing.
When he arrived at the pier, he looked rather stunned.
"Oh, youre ok," he said, with a tinge of disappointment in his voice.
"Yes," I said happily, as I clambered into the b! oat, "I had the best time ever."
As we headed for the long ride back to the Park headquarters, Pak explained to me over the roar of the boat engine:
"I cant believe that you did it. And you survived. You are the first person (and just a girl!) after your boss to stay at the camp on your own. And that must be over 10 years ago. Many of our staff refused to stay there even in groups. They talk about seeing a pontianak that roams the area. Those who have stayed in that camp have gotten really sick for no reason, and refuse to go back. Are you sure you are ok?"
"Im really ok, Pak. And I cant wait to go back and tell my boss."
Back in the office, I told my boss that I had did it, I had done what she had requested.
"Oh," she said rather distractedly, "I didnt think you would do it. It wouldnt have mattered anyway even if you didnt do it."
Rather deflated, I told my colleague (who in all appearances looked more buff, and fieldworker-worldly than I would ever be) what I had done, and she was horrified. She explained to me that she would have never done it herself, that it was a stupid and dangerous thing to do: to stay in the jungle all by myself for several nights, without any way of getting help when I needed it.
"Ive heard about the pontianak and I dont know how much that is true but there are a lot of illegal hunters that shouldn?t be there, and who knows what they would do to you."
Word soon got around the Forest Department where my office was based what I had done, and there were similar horrified reactions. My boss soon called me in, to sheepishly tell me, to not do it again. I would be base! d in the park headquarters, instead of the camp, for the rest of my fieldwork period.
I was rather disappointed because I had psyched myself up for living long-term in the camp. However, as I soon discovered, despite having to spend nights at the park quarters, I still managed to do a lot of fieldwork on my own (budget was tight for hiring field assistants), and that lone fieldwork experience was one of the purest joys Ive ever had.
And yes, I did have more hairy experiences of bumping into illegal hunters with guns while being hours and several kilometers away from the nearest help. But that is a story for another time.
June is a Malaysian conservationist from Sarawak, where she was born and raised. She is of Krokong-Bringing (Dayak Bidayuh) and Filipino (Tagalog) descent and now seeks peace and acceptance in the Philippines. She tweets at @j_rubis.