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The news in Sabah was the passing of Father Hanselmans, who spent 23 years in Sabah as a Mill Hill missionary and an educationist, has died at the age of 82 in his homeland, Holland. Born in 1929, Fr Henselmans joined the seminary at the age of 13 and was eventually ordained as a priest. He arrived in British North Borneo (now Sabah) in 1954 to start his priestly career but was asked to be headmaster of St Michael’s Primary School in Penampang, instead.
Amazingly, he turned the school around from a failure to scoring a high passing rate in the Primary Six examination in 1957. Like the late Father Joseph Dapoz, he also mastered the Kadazan language.
After a six-year stay in Penampang, he was sent to St Anthony’s School in Tenom which was in dire need of help. Years of hard work had taken a heavy toll on his health, and he reportedly collapsed while saying Mass in Tenom in 1962.
Fr Henselmans recuperated in Holland and upon his return to Sabah was assigned to Tambunan to take Fr Connolly’s place.
There, he was instrumental in starting St Martin’s Secondary School, the first in the district. This was made possible by a grant from the departing British Administration through the former Colonial Welfare and Development Fund. St Martin’s Secondary School scored the highest percentage in the State in the 1972 Overseas Cambridge School Certificate Examination.
Since Fr Henselmans left Sabah in 1977, he had been engaged in a movement called “Marriage Encounter” in his own country. Since then, he had been back a few times, the last being in March 2008.
In his interview with local Daily Express, when asked what he would like to say to the people of Sabah, he had said: “What I would like to say to all my friends in Sabah is this: Spend time to learn to communicate and to listen. This is necessary in a married life but it also applies at the workplace, in business and in government and politics.”
With what is happening in the current political climate, we can see the divide between the advises given by Fr. Henselmans. While the Barisan Nasional government under Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Razak has been improving their listening and communication skills with the people, the Pakatan Rakyat antics has been a disaster recently.
As everyone mouth says 1 Malaysia (with some making a joke on it or even saying they do not understand it) and the Economic Transformation Program, the government is displaying an effort to improve the livehood of the people. For all the PR controlled state governments, only Penang has been exceptionally focused and well managed.
In a quick interviews with a number of businessmen in the PR held state of Selangor, their prediction is that Selangor will fall back in the hands of BN in GE13. However, PR members and supporters are upbeat saying Sarawak will be the turning point for them as the Tsunami of change will sweep BN from power there.
However this is far from the truth. The local Sarawakians working in the nation capital are sceptical of the antics of PR. While some are comfortable with DAP, their opinion of PKR is that it is the same as UMNO. Therefore, they will still support the local parties and a quick survey shows they preferred the incumbent government.
“After 3 years PR governments have nothing much to show or any plans to improve the people livehood”, says a dayak nurse who preferred to remain anonymous.
So come 16 April will there be a change or will the white hair remain? We will see then. Hold on to your seats!