Image Credit: Malaysian Bar
Members of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) are among 100 members of the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) who were stopped this morning (13 September) by Police from marching to the palace in order to present a petition or memorandum to the Yang Dipertuan Agong regarding the erosion of their rights as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.
Of the number, 23 are from Sarawak representing the various ethnic groups, while 20 others are from Sabah and the rest from other parts of Malaysia.
SADIA secretary general Nicholas Mujah said that the proposed march today was stopped on the advice of the Police due to tense political situation in the capital following the arrests of Raja Petra Kamaruddin, MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily news reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng under ISA. The march had earlier been approved by the Police.
“We are still in Kuala Lumpur waiting for the green light from the Police,” Mujah said.
For SADIA, this is the second time that it had submitted a memorandum to Yang Dipertuan Agong. The first was submitted in late 1980s when the association urged the Yang Dipertuan Agong to look into the rights of the Ibans when formulating National Development Policy.
Article 153 of the Federal Constitution: Reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits, etc., for Malays and natives of any States of Sabah and Sarawak.
“(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Yang Dipertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.”
The common complaints from Dayaks especially Ibans are that they have been deprived of business opportunities, of development, of recruitment into the civil service, and intake into tertiary education. But lately, their complaints are against the encroachment into their NCR land.
When they reported the matter to the Police, the Police did not take action. But when the authorities and companies lodged a report to the Police, the Police acted swiftly. Then they took the law into their hands and landed in prison.
Up to now about 200 cases of NCR land that has been encroached upon have been filed with the Court. But this takes time.
In the meantime, they have decided to submit a petition to Yang Dipertuan Agong.