KOTA KINABALU: A key person in the erection of the Keningau Oath Stone - former Sabah state secretary Tan Sri Richard Lind passed away aged 98 - at around noon on Saturday (March 20).
Lind, who played a key role in convincing people in Sabah's interior to agree to the formation of Malaysia through the erection of the Keningau Batu Sumpah or Oath Stone, breathed his last peacefully at his house in Signal Hill here.
His son Douglas - a veteran lawyer and legal advisor to the previous state government - said Lind died peacefully just short of his 99th birthday.
“Funeral arrangements will be made known later, ” he said when contacted.
Lind served as the state secretary under the Usno state government and was instrumental in having the Batu Sumpah erected a year after the Federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963.
This was because after the formation of Malaysia, Sabah’s first appointed chief minister Donald (later named Tun Fuad) Stephens found out that the people in the interior still did not agree to the formation.
Stephens then asked Lind, who was the then-resident of Keningau, to find out the reason for this.
Lind then met with locals like Sedomon Gunsanad, who was the native chief of Keningau at that time as well as other native leaders to ask why they were still worried about the merger.
He found out that their concerns mainly pertained to the freedom of religion despite Islam being the official religion, state jurisdiction over lands and upholding native customs.
Although these core demands were contained in the 20 Points safeguards, the natives said they did not trust what was agreed on paper and wanted it cast in stone.
Following this, the Oath Stone was erected and unveiled on Aug 21,1965, witnessed by the-then Agong and federal ministers among other dignitaries.