Bario woman elevated as High Court judge


Supang and her husband, Geoffry William Mariner.

SANDAKAN: Former Judicial Commissioner Supang Lian, whose humble beginning started in the far-flung village of Paq Umur in Bario, Sarawak, was yesterday elevated to a High Court judge and will return to serve in her native Sarawak as High Court judge in Sibu effective mid-October to replace Justice Datuk Yew Jen Kie.

“Who would have dreamt that an indigenous girl from the rainforest of Borneo from an ethnic group barely 5,000 in number could possibly become a High Court judge?

“One thing is certain and it says a lot for our nation … that the people with a background like mine are given that opportunity,” said Supang in her speech during her elevation ceremony.

She attributes her success to her late father, who imbued her with a strong sense of independence and self-belief.

“My father was among the first Kelabit from the highland to have obtained some form of formal education and at a young age he was recruited into the British Constabulary Force and was stationed mainly in Kuching.

“When we grew up, he spoke of the world far and beyond the mountains and as was then possible in the longhouse setting, he nourished us with a greater latitude to find our own ways in life, for he believed in us and inspired us to reach for the stars,” she said.

Supang also expressed her fondness for Sabah, averring that Sabahans are welcoming, unassuming and friendly, leading her to the discovery “that everyone here can sing and dance.”

She expressed tremendous thankfulness for the position of trust bestowed upon her as well as gratitude to a long list of people, including her Irish husband, Geoffry William Mariner and her other family members, fellow judges and members of the legal fraternity.

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