12 Dayak leaders join state DAP Sarawak

KUCHING: Twelve Dayaks leaders, six of them former state PKR members, joined DAP Sarawak yesterday.

All 12 said they had weighed the pros and cons and deliberated on various issues before making the decision to join the largest opposition party in the state.

The 12 are lawyer Paul Raja, Philip Tero (Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association founding member), Richard Lias (secretary general of Dayak National Congress), Baba Emperan (businessman), Ali Basah (lawyer), Frankie Bedindang (ex-Walikota of Kapit), Douglas Alau (former university lecturer and former executive secretary of PBDS), David Kalom (former deputy director of a statutory body), Granda Aing (businessman), Robert Tella (former Lt. Commander in the navy), Edward Agong (former teacher) and Gabriel Ajan (former Petronas employee).

At a press conference here, which was also attended by veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, Paul alleged that Dayaks had grown more and more irrelevant as time went by even though the community used to be an important force to be reckoned with.

“Not only are Dayaks marginalised, they are also forgotten. In Sarawak, Dayaks are in almost all political parties, but there is still something wrong with our community. Most of it is caused by our political leaders.”

He claimed elected Dayak leaders had failed the community ‘very badly’.

“When Dayak NGOs speak for the community, political leaders try to suppress them. Our leaders are not our voices. I agree that political leaders have become the enemies of the Dayak community.”

Asserting that the Dayak community must stop playing micropolitics, Paul said: “There is no point for us to support political parties that do not speak for them or deliver.”

He believed DAP Sarawak would place candidates in a lot of Dayak areas in the coming state election, adding: “It is time for us to change the political games and to win election.”

Meanwhile, Philip said the Dayaks had been supporting Barisan Nasional (BN) for the last 52 years only to realise it did not work. He said he trusted that DAP would serve as a platform for Dayaks to improve the community’s situation.

“I was a very strong BN supporter until 1995. If you look at the statistics, you can see how much Dayaks lag behind in all fields.”

The 12 later signed the DAP Dayak Blueprint, which outlined the seven key points to uplift Dayak livelihood. The seven key points for the DAP Dayak Blueprint are Political Leadership, Land Reform, National Indigenous Development Policy, Native Human Capital Development, Infrastructure and Information Development, Identity of Dayaks, and Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Meanwhile, Chong, also Bandar Kuching MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said the joining of these Dayak leaders would boost DAP’s rural drive and transform the party into a more Malaysian party for all races.

“It is also a testimony that the DAP’s struggles for fairness and progress for all races in Sarawak and Malaysia are gaining recognition not only amongst the Chinese community but also among the Dayak community.”-Borneo Post

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