SABAH, MALAYSIA — Even though a rubber tapper earns a meagre salary of between RM200 (S$58.10) and RM300 (S$87.15) monthly, this did not stop Jaliusih Madakol from missing any of his daughter’s milestones in life.
The 63-year-old had to borrow RM120 (S$35) just to make a 45km journey to attend a ceremony honouring his 20-year-old daughter’s education achievement at Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, last Thursday (13 Jul).
From a remote village, Sinansag Kiulu, Tamparuli, Jaliusih borrowed the money from his neighbours so that he and his wife Malian Bangkulat, 53, could afford the return taxi fare to see their daughter Arnie being honoured by the state education department.
It takes an one hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to Tamparuli or two and a half hour flight from Kuala Lumpur.
Arnie scored a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average for her Malaysian Higher School Certificate (STPM) examination.
She is the first STPM student from SMK Tun Fuad Stephens to achieve a 4-flat result. STPM is equivalent to Singapore’s A-level examination.
Arnie was among 75 students in the East Malaysian state being honoured for acing the pre-university exam.
Jaliusih said his monthly income is only between RM200 and RM300, and his two vehicles, a battered motorcycle and a 30-year-old Proton Saga car, “always break down”.
“The farthest it can go is up to Tamparuli town, about 30 minutes from our home,” he told English daily New Straits Times, adding that they had to hire a taxi from the town to the ceremony’s venue.
“I had no other choice but to borrow money from several villagers just to ensure we managed to get here. It is a joyous occasion.”
Arnie is the third of five children who aspires to become a teacher, told reporters she studied hard as she wanted to help lift her family out of poverty.
Tamparuli is a small town and a sub-district of Tuaran on the west coast of Sabah.
On 14 July, Kiulu assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai called Arnie to personally congratulate her after reading news report about Jaliusih.
Joniston met Arnie and her family on 16 July discuss several funds offered for Arnie’s university studies and to assist her family.
It is learned that Sabah MARA, Yayasan Sabah, and a few other universities have offered placements and financial assistance for Arnie to pursue her tertiary education.
The story has also been widely shared on news and portals, opening more and better opportunities for the girl from a rural village.