Saturday, August 9

“Political tidal bore” to hit Sarawak?

Despite being marginalized, the Dayaks especially the Ibans continue to elect Barisan Nasional (and including the Sarawak Alliance) into government in every State and federal election since 1970 (the first direct elections for Sarawak).

Judging by the constant blockades or barricades against timber companies or oil palm plantations for taking away their “pemakai menua” and their Native Customary Right (NCR) land and the numerous court injunctions, and the miseries and sufferings as a result of being marginalized, it is evidently clear that the Dayaks are unhappy with the companies and the government.

But when come to election, they do not only forget about their NCR land being taken away and their sufferings, but also eagerly offer themselves as polling agents for the BN candidates, campaigning and defending the BN government at the top of their voices. What they do not realize is that by voting for the BN candidates, they are surrendering their lives to the BN and in fact signing an “agreement” for the companies to take away their NCR land.

Let me give you some examples. *In the May 2006 State election, certain Tuai Rumahs and their “anembiaks” not only did not vote for Datuk Sri Daniel Tajem of the Opposition in the Bukit Begunan constituency, they went also to an unbelievable extent stopping Tajem and his campaigners from entering their longhouses.

The majority of these voters are his relatives and almost all of these longhouses have been complaining that their NCR land and farm land have been taken away by the BN government for oil palm plantations. And yet they voted for the BN candidate after each voter was alleged to have been given between RM10 and RM30, and after certain minor rural projects worth a few thousand ringgit were promised them. The Tuai Rumahs were allegedly given special “allowances”. Thus, the longhouse folks failed to see the bigger problems facing them – the gross injustices, their miseries, and the sufferings they have to endure for the next five years, just because of the small amount of money. Isn’t this penny wise pound foolish or in its Iban equivalent “untung sekarung rugi seguni”?

What is strange is that the very people who voted against Tajem came to see him after a few months later seeking his legal assistance regarding their NCR land being taken away by oil palm plantation companies. Tajem listened to them pouring out their problems and asked them whether they had RM10,000 as a deposit and told them that his legal fee per day was no less than RM500. If they felt that he was charging exorbitant fees then they should look for a Chinese lawyer who was likely to charge them much higher.

They were shocked to hear such harsh words from Tajem, as they knew him to be always sympathetic to their problems. But not this time.

“Nama ngambi nuan nyadi lawyer kami kelalau embar Datuk?” ko sida iya nanya Tajem. Timbal Datuk: “Nadai meh rega lawyer sebaka enggau rega kita RM30.00 ke diberi Barisan leboh bepilih tu tadi.”

Now with such mentality of the Dayaks, can the political tsunami that has swept five States in West Malaysia become a tidal bore in Sarawak in the next State election?

Yes, if we want to see the tidal bore of which Sarawak’s rivers are famous for it causing political havoc to the State Barisan Nasional then we must be prepared now and the most important tool to victory is MONEY. As being practiced by Barisan Nasional, the slogan we also should adopt is “No money no talk”.

To win in any Dayak majority constituency, we must have at least one million ringgit to match the BN money in bribing the voters. In each longhouse, the Tuai Rumah plays the most crucial role and if you can win him over with the right amount of money, then half of the battle is won. Normally his “anembiaks” will follow him.

The next question is: Can Pakatan Rakyat provide us with this kind of money?

*An excerpt from the volume two of The Broken Shield – The Dayak Dilemma which will be published by end of 2008

1 comment:

Henry Anak Joseph said...

There's an Iban idiomatic expression "Enggai ka Jabah, Jabah ga mentua" (literal interpretation--despite having dislike for Jabah but then having Jabah as father-in-law). It refers to someone who resents somebody or something and yet simultaneously get oneself associated with that somebody or something.

At face value the Dayak should be blamed for their own dilemma or predicament, which among others include, being marginalised. Many Dayak are very repulsive to other fellow Dayak ideas or view even if it means for the good and betterment of the Dayak. Whose idea it is really matters. For example, if an idea comes from cerain personality considered by the ruling elite as personna non grata on certain issues pertaining to dayak interest, the idea is considered bad even if they know the idea is good. But if the same idea had come from the ruling elite themselves, then they and people associated with them would say the idea is good. The point that I am trying to drive home is that the Dayak are not prepared to come together and speak or work as one voice even if it is for the common good of the Dayak. In other words the Dayak give other people the opportunity to take advantage of their of follies.

But on the other hand, political illiteracy and lack of knowledge about real democratic process had caused the Dayak to take lightly the value of their votes. We cannot totally blame the Dayak masses for this shortcoming. Electoral and democratic process are alien to the Dayak masses in the remote region. Our Dayak leaders are far from educating them about the real democratic process and political literacy. Instead, many of our dayak leaders often threaten them with the terror of economic deprivation if they (Dayak masses) do not vote them to public office. In other words, an exercise of freedom of choice is qualified and conditional. They have become too naive to freely exercise their right for fear of political reprisal. The reason being those naive Dayak masses who are voters in their own repective constituencies always believe these leaders are political immortals. Thus the fear becomes real. In their constant quest for subsidies and token from minor rural projects' allocation they feel they cannot afford to be hostile or uncooperative to the incumbent Dayak leaders and other ruling elites. Therefore subsevience to the so-called leaders becomes the norm of Dayak community. Resisting short term benefits (handouts and other gratifications) for a long term benefits has become a rare attitude.

There are two approches. First, a holistic approach, which is good in the long run, by fully educating the Dayak about the true value of democracy. Secondly, the more radical approach, is to join force with non-Dayak in creating a polital tsunami. Whatever that may be, the means will justify the ends.

Have a good day.