Friday, December 21

First Buyer of "The Broken Shield"

(Pic) Mr Johnny (right) and Mr Joseph both proudly holding a book that they respectively authored - "The Broken Shield - The Birth of Dayakism" & "Gempung Jerita Tuai Bansa Iban".

Mr Johnny Chuat, from was the first person to buy The Broken Shield. He came all the way from Bintulu just to meet the author, Mr Joseph Tawie and get him to sign the book at First Family Cafe, Kuching.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnny Chuat who is also the Managing Director of Pegari Iban Production in Bintulu has been appointed as one of the Marketing Agent to promote and sell the book. Those staying in Bintulu who are interested to purchase the book can contact Mr Johnny at 019-8758576 or email

(Pic) Mr Johnny Chuat (right) received copies of the book from Mr Joseph Tawie during an informal gathering at First Family Cafe (FFC) in Kuching on 23 Dec 2007 while others look on.

Monday, December 17

Launching of "The Broken Shield"

"The Broken Shield was launched by Dr John Brian Anthony (right) at the 2nd Dayak 21st Century Seminar Series held on 16 December 2007 at Penview Inn, Kuching.

"The Broken Shield" - latest book on Dayak politics

‘The Broken Shield’ which was soft-launched on 16 December 2007 during the Dayak 21st Century seminar and workshop is the latest book written on Dayak politics.

Authored by Joseph Tawie, a retired civil servant, the book attempts to cover political events from the author's perspective and knowledge.

It is about a journey or a "roadmap" of Dayak political unity from the day Sarawak gained its independence until this present day political scenario. Along the journey, the Dayak unity was persistently being undermined. Their hopes and struggles were constantly being frustrated either by the Dayaks on their own out of personal greed and jealousy or they worked in collaboration with others whose interests were detrimental to the Dayaks' political struggles.

The book is so titled 'The Broken Shield' because the shield is more than a Dayak warrior's weapon of self-defence against all weapons of enemies and which symbolises the unity, strength, struggles and hopes of the Dayak Community. And for this reason, the shield has been incorporated into the logos or symbols of all Dayak-based parties like SNAP, PBDS, SPDP and PRS. Even Pesaka, which merged with Bumiputra to form Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), to this day still continues to retain the shield as its emblem to reflect its aim of protecting the Dayaks' interest in PBB.

Figuratively speaking, the shield breaks into pieces in its efforts to protect the Dayaks' unity, interests and rights, and its bits and pieces have been scattered all over the place. Translated into modern day politics, ‘The Broken Shield’ reflects the Dayaks' profound disunity while its fragments represent each and every one of the Dayaks who are divided and scattered among the existing political parties in the State.

Priced at RM70 per copy, the book can be obtained from Joseph Tawie (019-8763222) or email or fax 082-363794.

Tuesday, December 11

Excerpts from Chapter 6: BN Rejects PBDS’ Application

Although PBDS had submitted its application to rejoin the BN coalition five months ago, some of its leaders were cautious about the application and were sitting tight as they waited anxiously for the State government to decide.

The questions uppermost in their minds were: what should they do if the application was not accepted by the BN3 coalition? Who would fight the PBDS future battles? Should they commit the PBDS machinery to the State government cause before or after coming onboard? Or should you ask your “troops” to go to the other side until you are definitely sure you are going to be friends and not enemies anymore?

This was the situation that PBDS was in. It must be admitted that there were members who were not happy of rejoining the BN3 government, when the party’s bargaining power was practically nil. They said that the leaders only talked about political reality, but they forgot about political strategies.

In the meantime, the State Barisan was giving PBDS till the end of March 1992 to “prove” its sincerity in wanting to rejoin the BN3 coalition. The decision would then be made after the six-month “cooling period”. Taib said: “It is just after the elections. We will give them time. We will wait and see what efforts they will make for PBDS to rejoin the BN with a sincere heart and not a tactic to sabotage the BN.”

Taib stressed that the Sarawak Barisan wanted political parties to reduce politicking and work towards achieving greater development in the State. This could be realised if there was greater consensus among the political parties.

And to achieve a greater consensus and development, it was appropriate to bring the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak back into the State Barisan, although it had enough political strength. “However, PBDS must first show its sincerity and observe the BN discipline,” he said over RTM.

SNAP, a member of the BN coalition, had expressed its decision to oppose the readmission of PBDS into the coalition, because in accepting PBDS, SNAP would be weakened, said Peter Gani, secretary-general at the National Council meeting of the party. He suggested that as members of PBDS were ex-members of SNAP, they should rejoin SNAP individually.

Saturday, December 1

Excerpts from Chapter 6: Tajem's Version of the Ming Court Affair

According to Tajem, he was about to attend a Parliament meeting on 9 March 1987, when his secretary George Entigar called him, informing him that there was an urgent meeting at the Ming Court. Instead of going to Parliament, he went to the hotel where he saw so many Sarawakian politicians. Moggie and secretary-general Edmund Langgu were among them. He went to see Moggie, who explained to him what transpired at the hotel. Then he was advised to go to Rahman’s residence.

At Rahman’s house, Tajem met many more Sarawak State Assemblymen and politicians. Rahman told him that the majority of elected representatives from PBB, SUPP and SNAP and even one or two from PBDS had agreed to pass a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Taib Mahmud.

Tajem told Rahman that they could not and should not do it especially in Kuala Lumpur, as it was not proper, adding that the proper place to pass such a vote was in the Council Negeri. Rahman told Tajem that they did it to Stephen Kalong Ningkan 20 years ago, and there was no reason why this time it could not work. After all, the Federal leaders were behind them.

When Tajem left for the Ming Court, Rahman passed him RM30,000 wrapped up nicely. Tajem did not ask what the money was for and passed it to Paul Kadang.

Tajem again met with Moggie and Langgu and expressed his unhappiness with the way he was sidelined or kept in the dark on a matter of such importance. By this time, Moggie and Langgu were not only deeply involved in the plot, but had also signed a “no confidence” document. Initially Tajem was reluctant to sign the document until and when Moggie threatened to resign as president of PBDS, and only then did Tajem affix his signature.

“I have to sign the document in order to prevent PBDS from breaking up,” he told the writer. Moggie only admitted his big mistake in joining forces with Rahman 20 years later and all this while Tajem was blamed for being one of the “pioneers” of the Ming Court Affair. But Tajem being Tajem accepted the blame.

Tajem left the Ming Court and disappeared. He refused to let people know where he was and admitted to some of his friends that what Moggie and Langgu did was wrong. It was also wrong for them to gang up together with Rahman. Personally, Tajem tried to distance himself from Rahman partly because of a failed business deal worth few hundred thousand ringgits and partly because Tajem was unsure whether the quarrel between Rahman and Taib was real or not.

Thursday, November 22

Excerpts from Chapter 6: The Ming Court Affair

The Ming Court is a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where a group of politicians headed by the former Governor of Sarawak, Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub gathered some time in March 1987 and discussed a plan to topple the State government of Sarawak under the leadership of Taib Mahmud, Rahman’s nephew. The Ming Court Hotel became the “headquarters” of these politicians who were dissatisfied with Taib’s government. Thus, the name of Ming Court Hotel Affair came about.

Dissatisfaction with Taib’s leadership started as early as in 1985, when Bumiputera politicians accused him of neglecting the interests of Bumiputeras – the Malays, Ibans and Bidayuhs and giving so much face to the Chinese. Many big projects, timber concession areas and large tracts of land were given to the Chinese and SUPP. Because of a special relationship between Taib and SUPP leaders, SUPP became very daring in its demand. SUPP even asked the State government to give it a piece of land in each of the seven divisions in the State for the construction of its premises. This request by SUPP angered the Bumiputeras.

Wilfred Nissom, the independent State Assemblyman for Bengoh, was among those who were critical of Taib Mahmud. Nissom accused Taib of being a “weak” Chief Minister who always gave in to demands by SUPP. He said that it was only a weak Chief Minister who tried to make a criminal out of a Bidayuh who had made a private application to join PBB under him.

Wednesday, November 14

Excerpts from Chapter 5: The Fall-Out With Taib

It was evident during the SNAP-PBDS crisis that Taib was not only supportive of PBDS, but went all out to ensure that it was admitted into the Barisan Nasional. At one time, Taib even called SNAP the “real enemy” of the Barisan Nasional.

After a year or so in the Barisan, Taib started to pick quarrels with PBDS leaders insulting and chiding them whenever occasions presented an opportunity for him to do so. For example, at the opening of the Batang Ai hydroelectric station in Lubok Antu by the Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 21 August 21 1985, Taib spoke highly of Datuk Alfred Jabu, the deputy Chief Minister III as the true leader of the Iban community, honest and trustworthy. Datuk Leo Moggie, Minister of Telecommunications, Posts and Energy and president of PBDS, Datuk Daniel Tajem, the deputy Chief Minister II and deputy president of PBDS, other PBDS and Dayak leaders were present at the function.

Datuk Moggie, according to some observers, was seen very uncomfortable. Datuk Tajem, however, looked calm. To many of the Dayaks present at the function, Taib’s remarks were clearly aimed at chiding PBDS leaders especially Tajem, a member of his cabinet.

There was also another instance when Taib directed Jabu to officiate at an agricultural conference in Sri Aman organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Community, of which Tajem was the Minister. The reason was obvious and clear, that is to belittle Tajem.

According to Tajem, Taib began to change when he (Tajem) questioned him as to why Taib changed a number of decisions already agreed to by the cabinet without referring back to the cabinet. Usually Taib changed cabinet decisions after Wong Soon Kai allegedly met him privately. If such a cabinet decision had been made, which affected his ministry or the Dayak community or that it was made as a result of his ministry’s recommendation, Tajem would certainly ask Taib why such a decision had to be changed and why the whole cabinet was not informed of the change.

Thursday, November 8

Excerpts from Chapter 4: The Birth of PBDS

Waiting for Tajem’s return from the CM’s residence was really unbearable. And when he finally turned up and entered the room, all conversation stopped and all eyes were focused on him. Seating himself comfortably on a chair, Tajem related what transpired between him and Taib. Taib, he said, had agreed to them to form a Dayak-based political party and that he would still be retained as deputy Chief Minister. The announcement was greeted with loud cheers and claps of the hands. That was the birth of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) and there was celebration that night followed by barbecue until the early hours of the next day. Years later Tajem asked the CM as to who objected to them to join PBB. Taib said that there were certain Dayak leaders in PBB, but did not identify them.

Strangely enough, some of those who were among the pioneers of the party years later saw it fit to leave the party. In the words of Datuk Tajem, “….some of those who had partaken in the momentous decision in such circumstances less than being extenuating had since chosen to walk on different paths; others had found comfort in an enlightened and fluent company in higher esteem.”

Among them who had left the “PBDS boat” are Datuk Tra Zehnder, Datuk Gramong Juna who is now with PBB, Douglas Endawie who believes that Iban must act like a creeping plant (empakap) in order to survive and one time worked for Wahab Dollah, a PBB strongman, Patrick Anek Uren, Lucia Awell, Vida Bayang and Joseph Samuel. (You will read more of Joseph Samuel’s story later on). But the tenacious few have chosen to march on to carry the torch of the party, loyal to the cause in search of new direction, joined merrily along by a band of others to explore the intricacies of politics in the new horizon far away.

Friday, November 2

Excerpts from Chapter 3: The SNAP Crisis

Rumours of SNAP’s president, Dunstan Endawie having loggerheads with his secretary-general, Leo Moggie and the senior vice-president, Daniel Tajem were at first considered as “mere rumours” especially after the party had won with a resounding victory in the recent State election in which it won 16 seats, losing two to independents including one SUPP-backed. SNAP accused SUPP of manufacturing those rumours in an effort to divert attention from internal problems affecting SUPP itself.

But after a while, the rumours and allegations seemed to gather some elements of truth. Such allegations, even if they were untrue, were made by Moggie’s supporters that he was sent to Kuala Lumpur to be made a Federal Minister (Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts) so that he would not become a threat to Endawie’s leadership.

Helping to fuel such rumours was Endawie himself, when he openly told his supporters that he wanted to step down as president and was looking for someone outside the party to take over from him. Among those mentioned by him was Rufus Nanang, who was an assistant Director of Education. The author remembers attending a dinner with the late Edward Jeli, Endawie, Atong Chuat and Jefferson Jingan in March 1980 at Holiday Inn Kuching. He told us that he wanted Rufus to take over from him as the president in order to make things difficult for Moggie and Tajem. As a friend, the author said to him that such a move could be disastrous and even could split the party, because Rufus was not even a member of the party and had no political experience. Further more, he was still working with the Education Department. Even if he resigned to take over the leadership, his appointment could not be made automatic. It had to be elected by the Triennial Delegates Conference (TDC).

How would Moggie and Tajem feel if they were sidelined? In fact the duo was the most suitable candidates to take over the leadership. Compared to Moggie and Tajem, Endawie was less academically qualified. Perhaps this could explain the reason why he felt insecure as the president. There was also a time he told his supporters that the duo had also undermined his leadership. Endawie must be referring to Moggie and Tajem who advised him to stop his night clubbing and cock-fighting activities (sometimes he was present in illegal cock-fighting).

Although such activities were personal, they could, however, jeopardise the good name of the party, the cabinet post he held as well as the community he represented. Endawie, who disliked Rahman, seldom attended cabinet meetings or attended to his ministerial functions. Many a time he did not go to his office, but spent his times at Rumah Dayak. So when Moggie and Tajem gave their advice to him, he thought that they were undermining his leadership.

Wednesday, October 24

Excerpts from Chapter 2: SNAP Joins BN

On 18 July 1975, a SNAP delegate’s conference was held authorising more or less the party to proceed with the negotiations to join Barisan Nasional. SNAP was promised some cabinet posts both in the Federal and State governments. Wong was released from Kemunting Camp and placed under “restricted residence” from 31 January 1976 until 10 March 1977 as one of the conditions for the negotiations for the party’s entry into the Barisan Nasional government.

Negotiations went for more than one year, before SNAP finally joined the Sarawak coalition government on 1 November 1976. SNAP president and Member for Krian, Dunstan Endawie was appointed deputy Chief Minister III and Minister for Local Government. Leo Moggie, who was the Member for Machan and the secretary- general of the party, was made the Minister for Welfare. Two other Council Negeri Members from the party were made assistant ministers. Joseph Balan Seling was made the assistant Minister for Agriculture and Community Development, while Lo Foot Kee, the assistant Minister for Local Government.
The author accompanied with the Chief Minister in a helicopter, visiting Temiang, Sematong, Mawang and then Gedong in the Simunjan District. It was in Gedong when Rahman stunned those present numbering a few hundreds with his intention to resign. As a government press officer covering the function, the author double-checked with the Chief Minister himself with what he heard and whether the author could write the story. He said to the author “Jang write the story and flash it over radio in all languages.” The author rushed to Kuching by taxi and informed the Head of the Press Division, Encik Balia Munir about the story. After typing the story, the author passed it to him and urged him to reconfirm it with the Chief Minister before flashing it to radio and the press. Rahman might want to change his mind. Two hours later Balia telephoned to say that the story was to be “killed”.

Tuesday, October 16

Excerpts from Chapter 1: The Formation of SNAP

The formation of the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in Sarawak on 10 April 1961, the third party to be formed after the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Parti Negara Sarawak (PANAS), opened the way for Dayaks’ active participation not only in the efforts to prepare Sarawak’s independence, but also to be fully involved in political activities. Although there were Dayaks in SUPP and PANAS, which were and are essentially and basically Chinese and Malay in character and in their objectives respectively, the Dayaks’ interests in the two parties were secondary and their roles minimal.

Thus the Dayaks, particularly the Ibans felt that they might be left behind in the decision making of Sarawak that was desirous of becoming an independent country, if they did not have a party of their own. So SNAP was born in Betong, Second Division, and its formation was greatly welcomed by the vast majority of the Ibans, who formed one-third of Sarawak’s population then. Among the founders were Stephen Kalong Ningkan, who became its secretary-general, T.S. Tinker (chairman), Edward Howell, Edwin Howell, Ivory Kedit, Mathew Dana Ujai, David Lawrence Usit, Nyipa Julin and Lionel Bediman anak Ketit.
Ningkan was sacked as Chief Minister on 17 June 1966. Penghulu Tawi Sli was appointed as Chief Minister. Ningkan brought the Governor to court and subsequently won the case. He was reinstated by the court as Chief Minister.

Unhappy with the court decision, PESAKA, BARJASA and PANAS leaders went to Kuala Lumpur and urged Federal leaders to call for an emergency meeting of Parliament to amend the State Constitution to allow the Governor to call for a Council Negeri meeting. A state of emergency in Sarawak was proclaimed.

Thus Ningkan's government was dismissed when Council Negeri met on 23 September 1966 when 25 voted for the motion of no confidence on Ningkan as Chief Minister, while six from SNAP and 10 from opposition SUPP refused to attend the meeting. One independent member walked out during the meeting.

The Governor delivered a letter to Ningkan the same evening, calling on him to resign and if he did not resign, the Governor would sack him.

Four persons from PESAKA who were the brains in Ningkan’s dismissal were Thomas Kana (secretary-general), Temenggong Jugah (president), Sidi Munan (secretary of Jugah and secretary of Sarawak Alliance) and Alfred Mason, political secretary to Jugah. SNAP accused them of being used by Rahman and Taib Mahmud to get rid of Ningkan.

To the writer, this was the first public plot to undermine Iban unity, and consequently, the Ibans were there and then split in two main regions – the Batang Rajang represented by PESAKA and the Saribas by SNAP.

Saturday, October 6

Table of Contents

To give you a general overview about the book, here are the list of chapters of the book:-


Excerpts from Preface

This book is written based on my experience – from what I read, I did, I wrote, I saw and what I heard as well as from my discussions with civil servants, reporters, friends and politicians. This is my memoir, my record."

I was among the lucky ones to have witnessed and recorded so many historical and political events that occurred between the times of Sarawak gaining its independence from the British in late 1963 to the present day Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia - a period of more than 40 years. As Assistant Press Officer with the Information Department between 1965 and 1975, my duties had not only endeared me to people of all walks of life, but had also taken me to almost every corner of Sarawak.

Being an Iban, I was assigned to cover the visits of VIPs to remote areas of Sarawak where other reporters could not go. I became both a reporter and a photographer. And my stories and photographs became the official versions of government press releases and statements. Among those whom I covered were Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Dr. Ismail, Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie, Tan Sri Sardon, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Datuk Penghulu Tawi Sli, Datuk Abdul Rahman Yakub, Datuk Abdul Taib Mahmud, Tan Sri Temenggong Jugah, Simon Dembab Maja, Leonard Linggi Jugah and Dunstan Endawie.

It was during such visits that I had seen and witnessed numerous events such as demonstrations, general elections, political crises, rallies and meetings and launching of various development programmes. For example, I had seen the downfall of Ningkan Government, the swearing-in of Tawi Sli as Chief Minister as well as the premature swearing in of Rahman as Chief Minister, the merger of Parti Bumiputera and Parti Pesaka, Sarawak National Party (SNAP) crisis (1981-1983), the formation of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), the Ming Court affairs, deregistrations of SNAP and PBDS, the registrations of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) as well as being involved in the formation of the proposed Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC).

Towards the end of 1975, I left the Information Department for the Police Department as the Press Liaison Officer. My duties in the department were similar to those in the Information Department. The only difference was that my efforts were concentrated on Police activities. Here again I had the privilege of accompanying Commissioners of Police during those visits to other divisions, where we were briefed on security, crime and political situations in the State. Giving those briefings were senior Criminal Investigation and Special Branch officers. Some of my political knowledge came from these briefings by the Special Branch officers. I served nine Commissioners of Police during my 22 years and 10 months in the Police.

As a retired civil servant, I look back to the time when I joined the government with a feeling of nostalgia, especially when reading some of the files and paper cuttings on politics that I had collected since 1965. I wrote many of these political articles for The Sarawak Tribune, The Borneo Post, The Borneo Bulletin, The Sun, The Borneo Sun and The Malaysian Today. I had to use nom-de-plumes, because as a civil servant I was not allowed to contribute political articles to the newspapers. My job was only to write government press releases. The extra money I earned through writings helped me to send my four children to universities.

It was during this reminiscence that I decided to write a book. Some of the articles that I wrote decades ago are being included in the book I now call “The Broken Shield”. This book attempts to cover political events from my perspective and knowledge.

This book is about a journey or a “road map” of Dayak political unity from the day Sarawak gained independence until this present day political scenario. Along the journey, the Dayak unity was persistently being undermined. Their hopes and struggles were constantly being frustrated either by the Dayaks on their own out of personal greed and jealousy or they worked in collaboration with others, whose interests were detrimental to the Dayaks’ political struggles.

You may ask why “The Broken Shield”? The shield is more than a Dayak warrior’s weapon of self-defence against all weapons of enemies; it is an instrument that symbolizes the unity, strength, struggles and hopes of the Dayak community and depicts their culture and their day-to-day life. And for this reason, the shield has been incorporated in the logos or symbols of all Dayak-based parties like SNAP, SPDP, PBDS and PRS. Even PESAKA, which merged with Bumiputera to form Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), to this day continues to retain the shield as its emblem to reflect its aim of protecting Dayaks’ interests in PBB.

Figuratively speaking, the shield breaks into pieces in its efforts to protect the Dayaks’ unity, interests and rights, and its bits and pieces have been scattered all over the place and along the road of the Dayaks’ political journey to an unknown destination. Translated into modern day politics, “The Broken Shield” reflects the Dayaks’ profound disunity while its fragments figuratively represent each and every one of the Dayaks who are divided and scattered among the existing political parties in the State, namely PBB, SUPP, SNAP, SPDP, PRS, STAR and in the proposed Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC).

My intention of writing this book is to let the future generations know, study and perhaps learn from the failures, misgivings and misfortunes of their forefathers. And although for now it is impossible to unite the Dayaks under one political umbrella, it is hoped that the future generations may be more successful in forging unity among the Dayaks. The possibility of the broken shield being pieced together again is not impossible. God willing, with political will and sacrifice, I may even live to see it happens.

Joseph Tawie
Kuching, Sarawak
September 2007