Dayaks elated with government’s recognition

MIRI: Sarawakians, particularly the Dayaks, are understandably elated now that members of the state’s largest community do not suffer the ignominy of being classified as ‘lain-lain’ in official government documents.

A Deputy Public Prosecutor in Putrajaya, Robert Pasang Alam, commended the move by the Federal Government as timely to ensure the Dayaks would gain more recognition in business, education, civil service promotions, scholarships, permits, university intakes, posts in universities/institutions of higher learning and other benefits, as guaranteed by Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“It will be easier for the government to allocate funds and devise suitable policies for the Dayak community as well as to facilitate rural developments more effectively and efficiently.

“The move however, is purely administrative in nature where it doesn’t bind the government and can be deleted/removed at anytime,” he said.

Robert opined that to ensure the word `Dayak’ has a legal meaning and constitutionally and legally recognised, Article 161A clauses (6) and (7) of the Federal Constitution had to be amended to classify the relevant indigenous people as the Dayaks were consistent with the history of Borneo.

Accordingly, the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance ought to be amended to conform to the Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the land.

“And the word `Dayak’ will affirm the identity of the state’s indigenous peoples of Sarawak while the term `Bumiputera’ only refers to a status that

comes with the privileges as enshrined in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution,” Robert affirmed.

A member of Gagasan Anak Dayak Sarawak (GADS), a Dayak non-governmental organisation (NGO), Ramsay Lee Richard described the good news as a historic announcement.

“After 52 years in Malaysia, this is a happy day for all Dayaks to be no longer identified as `lain-lain’ or `others’,” he said.

To reciprocate, Ramsay extended his personal

appreciation to the relentless efforts by all those who pushed for it to happen and getting the full support from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun and the Minister of Land Development Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing.

Ramsay noted that all this while the Dayaks were never known in papers who they were and nobody wanted to be known as `others’ or `lain-lain’ as a racial identification.

Meanwhile GADS president, Vicky Gulin Shandom thanked the Federal Government for the courteous consideration to include the word `Dayak’ in all government official forms.

“Even the Orang Asli communities in the peninsula are termed as Bumiputera so the Dayaks in Sarawak should be accorded due status as they consist of many races and ethnic groups.

“Hence are entitled for the recognition and special rights,” he expressed on behalf of GADS.-Borneo Post

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