State Secretary’s ‘lain lain’ statement makes Dayaks unhappy

KUCHING: Sarawak State Secretary Morshidi Abdul Ghani’s statement that the Dayaks can now write down their own race ‘Dayak’ in the race column when filling up government official forms is sending a wrong message to the community on the eve of the state election.

“If there is the ‘lain-lain’ column, they can cross out the words ‘lain-lain’ and put their own race there. For those who want to indicate if he or she is Iban, Bidayuh and so on, they can also state so in the form. It’s flexible,” he was quoted as saying last week.

So, it looks like a “self-service” for the Dayaks. What the Dayak community had requested was for “Dayak” to be recognised as a race, no “lain lain”.

Not surprisingly, such a statement did not go down well with some Dayak intellectuals and Dayak non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Morshidi’s message shows that the government is not doing anything about it; it is “no action talk only” and whether the Dayaks remain as “lain-lain”, it seems it does not care.

When the issue was first raised two years ago, the state government promised to raise the matter with the federal government.

Chief Minister Adenan Satem was reported to have told RTM in February 2015 that he had brought the matter of doing away with “lain-lain” in the government forms to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“The Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulu and others are not ‘lain-lain’; they are people too, with their own culture and characteristics,” he had said.

On its part, the federal government set up a Bumiputera minority technical committee under the joint-chairmanship of federal ministers Douglas Uggah of Sarawak and Maximus Ongkilili of Sabah to look into the matter and make recommendations to the Cabinet.

The Dayaks thanked the Chief Minister for his concern and support.

But when nothing happened after more than a year, Dayak intellectuals became restless and wanted to know the outcome of the government’s decision.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Joseph Entulu, a member of the technical committee, was forced to come out with an explanation in November last year to say that the matter was being looked into.

Again in March this year, Entulu gave an assurance that the Dayaks would no longer be regarded as “lain-lain” as the Cabinet’s decision would be out soon.

However, Entulu’s assurance does not seem to hold when the State Secretary told newsmen last week that the Dayaks could now cross out the words “lain-lain” and write their race in the space.

Is it as simple as that?

Knowing that nothing has so far been done, Morshidi’s statement stirred up strong reactions from Dayak NGOs and several Facebook users.

Some even asked whether the government was treating the Dayaks as if they were the “descendants of Apai Saloi”. (In Iban folklore, Apai Saloi was a very stupid man).

“Maybe you can regard those in the longhouses as stupid, but it is certainly not the urban and educated Dayaks. The educated Dayaks are not “paloi” (stupid),” one Dayak posted on Facebook.

Judging by the numerous angry comments in the social media, it is clear that many are unhappy with the State Secretary’s statement.

Meanwhile, the Opposition PKR and DAP are certain to exploit the issue when they campaign in the rural areas. In fact the matter had already become an issue raised by them.

Last year Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian had called on the government to amend the relevant laws so as to legalise the term “Dayak”.

Likewise, Sarawak DAP Chief Chong Chieng Jen had tabled a motion during the April 2015 sitting of the state legislative assembly to amend the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance and the State Constitution, but his motion was thrown out.

It is only through legislation that the term “Dayak” can have a legal impact, he said.

Strangely, among those who strongly opposed the motion was the Land Development Minister and President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak Dr James Masing.

Accusing the DAP of “putting the cart before the horse”, he said that DAP should follow proper procedures by calling for an amendment to the Federal Constitution.

He said that MPs from PRS were working on the issue at the federal level, and he stressed that the Dayaks were not as ignorant as what the Opposition would like everyone to believe.

“Our boys are doing it at the AG chambers, but we don’t politicise it,” he was quoted as saying.

Once it was cleared by the AG chambers, then PRS would do it at the (federal) cabinet level.

“After that, we will come to the state which is the second stage,” Masing had explained.

Now is April, 2016, - one year has gone. So far nothing has been heard from Masing on the issue.

Instead, what we have is only a statement from the Sarawak State Secretary.

Here are some selected comments posted on Facebook:

“Does Adenan really care about the Dayaks even though the Dayak votes are “BN’s fixed deposit”?”

“It seems that more attention is being given to the Chinese voters by making several overtures in order to win their support for the BN, while Dayak voters are taken for granted”.

“So far Adenan’s more than 50 policy initiatives do not benefit the rural voters such as his initiatives of lowering electricity tariffs, of abolishing tolls and ferry fees, quit rent, house assessment, of recognising UEC, autonomy in education, and etc”.

“Disgusting. Never know that the Dayaks are foreigners. No wonder till now there are many Dayaks who cannot get their ICs as compared with Bangladeshis, Burmese, and Indonesians”.

“Until now no column has been approved for the Dayaks. I thought this has been settled once and for all. Dayaks must rise up now. Make your right decision now”.

So far, government leaders have not responded to the criticisms.-The Ant Daily

Post a Comment

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.
Javascript DisablePlease Enable Javascript To See All Widget