Ex-radio host lying low since Malaysia election

KUCHING: Peter John Jaban of Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) fame has been lying low since the general election in May, conducting research on July 22 as "Sarawak's Independence Day".

"I've been researching history. I'm on the ground, meeting people, but I also spend a lot of time at home, just reading.

"Sometimes I'm at the library. I've kept in contact with people and stayed updated with going-ons on the Internet," Jaban told The Star.

Historically, July 22, 1963, is the day that the Sarawak Constitution was drawn up and also the day the first Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan was sworn in.

Jaban said he was without links to political parties and considered himself an "activist".

"Being Sarawakian, I've always been interested in our history.

"Regarding July 22, I just want to raise awareness.

"I now realised how we've been 'manipulated' in a way, that we've been blindfolded, regarding our own history.

"I want to tell people what July 22 should mean to us. Among the older generation, a lot can't be bothered - maybe some are fearful - and among youths, they just don't know," he said.

The former radio host, also known as Papa Orang Utan, has a colourful personal history.

He has worked in state government agencies, including the Land and Surveys Department, at private Sarawak-based radio station Cats FM and then with RFS, which broadcasted anti-establishment content.

Last year, Jaban stirred a controversy when he was caught up in an apparent abduction by the authorities, which was later revealed to be false.

He continued his involvement with RFS, which was broadcasting from London, and also with the short-lived Radio Free Malaysia, both of which ceased operations after the general election.

Jaban told The Star he felt being an outspoken activist was a role he had to play.

"I want to share with the people things that might have been forgotten.

"Regarding July 22, the events I'm part of is not about being against anyone, we are just showing people what has been hidden," Jaban said.

"Sorry to say, even most politicians do not know enough about history, the constitution and laws. They are so busy fighting among themselves."