Thursday, January 8

The role of Tuai Rumah in Dayak politics

In the longhouse “administrative system”, a Tuai Rumah (headman) plays an important role - he is in fact the “everything” to the longhouse people. In the old days, he was the leader of “ngasu-beburu” (hunting), “bumai-bekebun” (farming) as well as a longhouse judge settling any quarrel between his followers.

Elected by the longhouse people to be their leader, the Tuai Rumah was highly respected; a man of high standing in society having deep knowledge of Iban Adat (Customs and Traditions) and his views were being sought after. Sometimes the post of Tuai Rumah was hereditary.

Today, the criteria for Tuai Rumah have changed; he must be educated at least up to Form Three, be pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) and not necessary having deep knowledge of Iban Adat (this he can learn from The Tusun Tunggu, a book containing all the customs, traditions, taboos, fines, etc.).

After being elected, his appointment must be endorsed by the government so that an allowance of RM450 per month can be given to him. His duties include being “eyes and ears” of the BN government, a judge, a law enforcer, tax collector, consultant, and chairman of JKKK (Village Security and Development Committee) through which government funds are being channeled.

During election times, he is much wanted by the BN parties. This has become very pronounced in the 2006 State and 2008 parliamentary elections.

Let me produce an account that has been written in the pages of “The Broken Shield Volume Two – The Dayak Dilemma” that is to be published very soon:

“In this 2006 election, the BN devised an entirely different campaign strategy, which caught the Opposition with their pants down. Previously the money was passed directly to the voters on the eve of polling. This time the distribution was done through their Tuai Rumah.

“Three days before polling all the headmen were summoned for a meeting, where they were coached to say something to their own people. And on their return to their respective longhouses, they were given some money that was to be shared with the voters of their own longhouses. In addition to this, there were also minor rural development projects that were promised to be implemented.

“The Tuai Rumah then called for a meeting of the longhouse folks and ordered them to vote for the Barisan Nasional candidates. Anyone who failed to follow his order or directive would not be given any share of the bounties or any project that the government had promised them. And he was also likely to be expelled from the longhouse.

“The Tuai Rumah must ensure that his followers must vote for the BN candidate, otherwise the BN candidate would report him to the District Officer, the Resident or the State Secretary. As Tuai Rumah is like a civil servant, action including the termination of his Tuai Rumahship could be taken against him. He might lose his monthly allowance of RM450 per month. And the promised minor rural development projects might be withdrawn.

“In Datuk Daniel Tajem’s constituency of Bukit Begunan, he was defeated by a man, Mong Dagang, whom he had picked to replace him in the 1996 state election. Tajem practically lost in all the longhouses in the five polling districts. Before the money came, many longhouse chiefs and their followers had pledged their support to him, who had represented them in six previous elections. After the distribution of money and the threats issued, everything changed; longhouse headmen, their followers and even Tajem’s own relatives voted against him. And a similar tale of vote buying had also been reported in other Dayak constituencies.”
Undoubtedly, money is power and the government has effectively used it as a "weapon" to intimidate the longhouse chiefs and their followers. And what makes it more frightening to the voters is the vote counting is done immediately after polling ends, revealing whether the voters from the longhouses voted for BN candidate or not.

Unless this system of counting is changed and the vote buying is curbed and the Tuai Rumah system is abolished, future elections will continue to be unfair to the Opposition candidates.

But the worst effect is that the system will create a government full of corrupted and dishonest elected representatives as well as inculcating into the people or voters a culture of corruption and a dishonest syndrome where money determines the election. – The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com

17 comments:

Tiger said...

The BN strategy of buying votes and threatening the longhouse people has always been an issue of the defeat of the opposition or any other independent candidate. This is the main reason why the BN government not recognising our NCR land and give the Dayaks titles to their land. The Dayaks will have adequate money and not depending on the BN for money in the elections.

Pakatan Rakyat need to come up with a strategy on this issue. Either that or those in the urban areas who are supposed to be knowledgable should play an important part in educating or explaining the circumstances of voting for the BN in the next state election, which is very critical in determining our future of the Dayaks.

Actually, I pity the longhouse folks. Most of the time, we hear about the longhouses being splited to several due to politics, etc. We could not even compromise on certain issues, the the split is always the resolution. They ought to think futher of the impact and not to react in such a manner.

NEIL said...

With this,the dayaks are proven to be greddy.They can be asked to do anything,to sell their own mother for a few dirty ringgit for their own personal gains.That's 's why today we have people like Jabu,Mawan,Masing etc.With this type of attitude,the broken shield will fail in it's role to promote dayakism.
Now to add salt to their wound,even the Tuai Rumah can be bought and sold.He can be remotely controlled for just RM 450 month and the whole longhouse residents will be force to listen to what he say.I think,dayaks have come to the end of the road.In politics we have the the most political frogs from the dayaks and now we even have Tuai Rumah frog.In the end we will have the whole dayak communities changing flags at every elections.Maybe old habits dies hard.In old days they practice shifting cultivation and so this habits are still been practice,but in a different way.

Tiyung Dayak said...

Money involvement in politics is an outstanding issue since the 1980s in Sarawak! Nowadays, it is hard to root out this kind of problem as it has formed a kind of mentality among us – the Dayaks (read http://tbsbidayuh.blogspot.com/2009/01/when-it-has-been-said-done.html). Yes, our aspirations to have a better government have been destroyed, as most facilities and infrastructure are in control by the BN.

Most of the time, some of our Tuai Rumahs and Ketua Kaums are hypocrites too. They are anti-government (in the first place), but whenever there is an election, they have to shift their allegiance and become pro-BN.

It’s also a common knowledge that "only" during the campaigning season the BN candidates are seen busying themselves and willing to “work over time” until the eleventh hour – just to do vote buying!

Apai Semalau said...

About time dayaks change their mind set and be more independent instead of being held bondage to the tuai rumahs. Come election time the tuai rumahs only care for their own pockets. If the other races can go without tuai rumahs why can't the dayaks? Lets get out of our shell and start being free from the clutches of these BN sponsored headmans. Like PBB the tuai rumahs only bully and intimidate their anakbiaks come election time. Money politics is a curse. It is voting without conscience! Dayak power means voting for a better tomorrow for all Sarawakians.

Borneo Warrior said...

The Ground Strategies fo PKR to gain inroads inorder to oust the incumbent BN Government of Sarawak will be the following:

1. Set a team in all ADUN, yes,the whole 71 of them and start to register all Sarawakians who are yet voters.(especially young voters-in the thousands).

2. Get key people in the ADUN areas to co-ordinate and report directly to the PKR sec gen in Kuala Lumpur. These are co-ordinators for all administrative and operational matters.

3. Recruit volunteers. Those who are ready to go for "battles" with the BN in any and whatsoever circumstances. Get the data and keep under wraps.

4. Identify would-be donors. Anyone is welcome to donate services, kind or funds to the cause. Set up a tabung,say, "Tabung N 31 Layar".The monies collected/services/kinds will only beutilised for the assault of that particular ADUN only and be under the the custodian of a "Trustee" appointed by the chief co-ordinator of that particular ADUN, with approval of PKR HQRS.

5. Start to recruit polling agents for all the ADUN areas. Give them training and motivation and "unbarisanised" them period. ( heard that PKR has done this for Batang Ai,and its a good start.).

6. Get the co-ordinators to start preparing fo all operational and administrative matters, i.e latest voters list, logistics, ballot boxes movement, psywarfare to win hearts and minds, intelligence gatherings, social/political programmes, "shadow ADUNs of respective areas" duties and monitoring.

7. Plan fund raising activities and initiatives. (Don't run to PKR HQRS in KL everytime we inSarawak want to organise something, it is a negative practice)! We must be able to standtall on our own,and walk tall. Let the BIG BOYs in KPR/PAKATAN know that we are serious and able to start organising. Non dependent on them for a start is a positive move. Remember this FIGHT is no ordinary fight.It is against the might,power and pitless resources of the incumbent Sarawak BN! You will very surprised to see how PKR/PAKATAN will react to our positive and resourceful moves! That I can BET!! The more we Sarawakians INVEST in ourselves/initiatives THE MORE WE WILL BE RECIPROCATED! BELIEVE ME!

The above is just suggestions and the rest is up to Adit,Bawin, Dominic Ng and all PKR State leaders to strategise. Best of luck Ybs/guys!

Sim said...

Borneo warrior has some very valid points. The services of the urban -- especially young -- middle class Dayaks are needed to campaign in Dayak areas long before nomination days. It will be too late come election time.

sim

Dyaksblog said...

The idea of holding the village chief ransom is in such a way that appointing them as the sole contractor in pretext of distributing the development funds/ rural projects. Sharing is caring indeed, with looting the taxpayers money. Most of the village chiefs are either happily accept it or just don't even know that they are being used or risk all the projects gone. With that, they choose not to toe the line or forever live in poverty. That is one of the reason that keep the pathetic nonstop cycle of 'Kept poor for ease of control' up and running.

SUN TAT said...

Excuse me! May I ask the following, please:

1. Will PKR Government retains the tuai rumah appointed by BN if the win the next general election?

2. Will PKR Government tell the tuai rumah appointed by them to be neutral in any election?

3. Everbody knows that offering money or any other 'values' by persuading the voters to vote for a particular candidate in any election is an offense under the Election Act, but I have never heard anyone being charged for the offense, although we have heard this issue for the last two decades. If indeed the lost candidates in the last Sarawak State Election was victimised of such bribery, why didnt he file a case in the election court? I am sure some of the affected voters, would like to testify for him.

Triplets Js said...

this is only a part of the system where actually it happens all through the chain of command. The YBs were given the carrot and then the stick to discourage them to do anything contradicts to their superior.

the same thing happen to any layman, such as the poor anembiak of the rumah panjai.

it may happen to "disobedient" civil servant as well as business people.(the carrot and stick approach)

But let us all keep in mind, in any election it is all depend to our conscience. We as voters should be independent in our state of mind and not to be scared of intimidations or whatsoever. remember, the choice is ours even though some people got the access of 'who vote for who' list. Its never too late to save our conciousness.

Anonymous said...

It is not a question of manipulation or intervention. The article clearly states one early aspect of Sea Dayak culture, and this was simply the egalitarian way in which settlements would elect their leaders.

Let's put things into context here first. Our Longhouses were semi permanent structures where the collective grouped under one elected leader, to decide on enterprises involving all. This would range from agricultural practices such as harvests, to more important times of the year where the community came together to give thanks to the Gods, for the bountiful gain in that particular year. Suffice to say, then as now, our rice culture dictated and drove our need to sustain ourselves, and land was seen as a means and an end in itself. This was all intrisically woven into our Iban culture, and past Kayau expeditions were either solely to expand the territory or take new territory.

Change came, and it was gradual, but Sarawak in 1908 was different to Sarawak in 2008. Then, our grandfathers risked life and limb to accomplish this agricultural cycle, this fertility rite to gain more, in the search for fame and fortune.

Nowadays, our ancient right to migrate and fell land has been curtailed. Our political structures severely disrupted to the extent our Tuai Rumah's now are appointed by the Sarawak Government to their posts. And this process, is skewered further, by requiring the endorsement of local, divisional and state wide party reps from the ruling coalition, or in effect PBB. In a nutshell, our sense of political pride and independence has been marked down by external interference from outside our own ETHNIC GROUP.

But how is our situation any different compared to the other ethnic groups in Sarawak? WIth the exception of the Sarawak Chinese, the rest have the same rights as us, but for some reason, others have succeeded in this intervention, whilst we are failed, despite our very best efforts to struggle, break free and reach the glass ceiling.

In this sense, if we wish to end this unstated policy, individually and collectively, we have all got to unite under one umbrella organisation, and adopt better measures, better tactics, more even handedness in countering this external intervention.

I can guess and rightly so, what is burning in our hearts, is our sheer hatred on being pushed aside, ignored and trampled on, by the powers that be. Push come to shove, and we may yet risk complete breakdown in Sarawak, and we may see riots in this country, OUR country. By that time, there is no point in having 3 Police Field Force Battalions in Sarawak, breakdown takes place, and many will suffer.

So going back to my earlier point. It is not a question of intervention or manipulation, it is a question on when we as an ethnic group, we as community of people, we as a nation are willing to make and shape this state in our own image, under our own influence. That is the safeguard. We, Ibans, will eventually have to push for this, because GREED, especially other communities who actively interfere in our affairs, will drive us to that reaction.

The Sarawak Government, at the end of the day is just a BODY OF PEOPLE. And these PEOPLE, with or without, pause or regard, will do their master’s bidding. And we must make sure, as Ibans, as Sea Dayaks and as DAYAKS that this Government is not shaped into a tool that will damage our interests, our ambitions for upward social mobility, and our dream to rise above our conditions to succeed.

We have been bred for this. It is our turn now, no matter how much pain is inflicted on us, each stroke on our backs will be, must be and is a lesson to remind us, of our rightful place, in OUR COUNTRY. We are Ibans, this is our land, this is our culture and this is our history. It is our MORAL DUTY and OUR GOD GIVEN RIGHT. ALLAH PETARA GAVE US THAT CHOICE.

Anonymous said...

I have few points about the influence of Tuai Rumah2 to affect election results in Dayak/Iban majority constituencies.

1.We have long known that if non-BN candidates put up complaints and petition regarding BN's use of "bribing" types tactics to buy over voters and Tuai Rumah2, they will never be entertained by law enforcement bodies. But, God blessed, many Honorable Judges nowaday do not bow down to the favor of BN any more,; they rule as what are just and correct (look at some recent cases)And, this show us that surveillance on the distribution of cash, items and valuables during the electoral campaigns are critically required in coming elections throughout the state.Report and keep on report, to make the Police and Election Commission work on their trusted hands...

2. It has been BN strategy that they call up Tuai Rumah2 during strategic time to "brain-wash" and warn them of the possible loss of benefits (to TR or the longhouses) if they fail to support and cooperate with BN candidates. We believe many Tuai Rumah2 sometimes are deciding and talking against their own consent and will.And, only few really understand the risks and bigger losses after they have again chosen SWK BN governance (such as the case of NCR).So, it is time, some things and some ways have to be done to correct the situation before we allow Dayak/Iban communities to fall even further.On this, I think, PR (the sole challenger to BN)will know how to and where to set their feet in....

3. In older days, Tuai Rumah2 are elected as respect and trust from their communities, but now many are "politically" appointed as many of us know. I feel more comfortable being under those older day Tuai Rumah, with less unsolved dispute in the longhouse, less divided groups, less ruthless and ruleless people in the same longhouse; and life is more a sincerely shared big family.Unfortunately, under BN iron-fist governance nowaday, we have more and more selfish, greedy and "blind" Tuai Rumah in our community....(though many are more educated than their forefathers)

Tuai Rumah's roles in politic are to focus on the overall welfare and benefit on their community in long run (not just few pieces of zinc roofing sheet, plywood). The Penghulu/Pemancha (being the area head of the Tuai Rumah2) should even work together in soul and spirit with the Tuai Tuai Rumah to look into situations, social economic problems, children education and conducts, gambling and alcoholics,community safety and so on....But, let us turn and look at our place. longhouses and community now. What do we see? I believe you can see more than I do....what have the RM450 benefited our society??? Most pitiful are longhouse folks with the underlying damages BN SWK has done to Dayak/Iban community.

Wake Up, Tuai Tuai Rumah...Change or Waiting To Be Changed. I pray that our Almighty may give you the wisdom and courage to turn your direction and love to your flock, and that He may bless you with lovingkindness and forgiveness, your good health and prosperous lives.

Ex.PC. Agom said...

Mr.Jetty,
Today a minister denies the allegation.Let we forget what had transpired in the last episode, but in the next Sarawak State General Election we are more prepared this time to substantiate our allegation with facts.I suggest we train 71-video recording `agents` (one to be deployed in each constituency) to record any irregularities amounting to commiting of any election offences and use these evidence in court of law whether it is in criminal cases or in election petition to challenge the validity of the election results.

Anonymous said...

To Ex.PC Agom

I fully agree with your ideas. It is time to clearly look into the rightfulness in use of cash and beneficial gifts during the period announced for election campaigning and all obtainable evidence that can be questioned in courts. I believe PR with army of legal personnel will be able to come up with the effective surveillance measures. Vitally important, our longhouse people are to be made aware of that violation of laws regularly used by BN-SWK.

PR, stage up such surveillance with all avalable resources as I know many ex-law enforcement men and women (and even currently employed)are standing behind you..I also believe, now, many retired are in good and awakened souls and spirits to welcome good changes to happen in the Hornbill State, as well as the whole of M'sia...

Even with postal votes (have been topics of critic and suspicion) this time, BN-SWK will have pale faces; unless more "Undi Hantu" being planted into the boxes..

Agom, I am just your next door up here. Best Wishes

Anonymous said...

Poor Dayaks, for a few ringgits more and suffers for the rest of their life under the BN’s control. what headman? more like a slave.

Even a labourer earns more than the headman. Time to change, Dayaks value yourself higher you should be controlling your own country. Yes, next election here in Sabah we are going to do just that.

- A Sabahan

A Malaysiakini subcriber said...

Source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/96037

Dayak blogger claims longhouse chiefs being paid for votes
By: Tony Thien, January 8, 2009

-----------------------------------

Future elections will continue to be unfair to opposition candidates if the current system of counting votes is not changed, the problem of vote-buying is left unchecked and the tuai rumah (longhouse chief) system is not abolished.

Well-known blogger, Joseph Tawie, in his latest posting in the broken shield, said, “Money is power and the government has effectively used it as a ‘weapon’ to intimidate longhouse chiefs and their followers.“

Tawie, who is an analyst of Dayak political affairs added that what was more worrying was that vote counting usually took place immediately after polling ended, to ascertain whether voters from longhouses had actually voted for the BN candidate.

But the worst effect of such an unfair system, according to him, was that it would create a government full of corrupt and dishonest elected representatives as well as inculcate into the people a culture of corruption and dishonesty.

Tawie, a retired government officer and pro-tem information chief of the yet to be registered Malaysian Dayak Congress told Malaysiakini today that the opposition will continue to be disadvantaged if the present system is not changed, especially in the 28 Dayak majority state constituencies in Sarawak.

He said although the system can be changed, it would be a costly affair, adding, “Opposition candidates may not have the resources.”

According to Tawie, in the longhouse administrative system under the BN government, the tuai rumah plays an extremely important role in every aspect of longhouse life.

In the olden days, he was the head of ngasu-beburu (hunting) and bumai-bekebun (farming) activities, as well as longhouse judge who settled misunderstandings among his followers.

Elected by the longhouse people to be their leader, the tuai tumah was highly respected. He was a man of high standing in society for having a deep knowledge of Iban adat (customs and traditions) and his views were much sought after. Sometimes, the post of tuai rumah was hereditary.

Tawie said, “Today, the criteria for becoming a tuai rumah has changed. He must be educated at least up to Form Three and be pro-Barisan Nasional. He need not have deep knowledge of Iban adat as he can learn them from the Tusun Tunggu, a book containing all the customs, traditions and taboos of the Iban people.

“After being elected, a tuai-rumah’s appointment must be endorsed by the government so that an allowance of RM450 per month can be given to him. His duties include being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the BN government, a judge, a law enforcer, tax collector, consultant and chairman of the village security and development committee, through which government funds are channelled,” he added.

“During election times, the tuai rumah is much sought after by the BN parties. This was especially so in the 2006 state and 2008 parliamentary elections.”

----------------------------
Blatant abuse of power

Tawie underscored his claim by citing the example below, which will appear in his book, ‘The Broken Shield Volume Two - The Dayak Dilemma’, that will be published soon.

“In this 2006 election, the BN devised an entirely different campaign strategy, which caught the Opposition with their pants down. Previously, the money was passed directly to the voters on the eve of polling. This time the distribution was done through their tuai rumah.

“Three days before polling, all the headmen were summoned for a meeting, where they were coached on what to say to their own people. And on their return to their respective longhouses, they were given some money that was to be shared with the voters of their own longhouses. In addition to this, there were also minor rural development projects that were promised.

“The tuai rumah then called for a meeting of the longhouse folks and ordered them to vote for the Barisan Nasional candidates. Anyone who failed to follow his order or directive would not be given any share of the bounties or any project that the government had promised them. And he was also likely to be expelled from the longhouse.

“The tuai rumah must ensure that his followers vote for the BN candidate, otherwise the BN candidate would report him to the District Officer, the Resident or the State Secretary.

As the tuai rumah is like a civil servant, action, including the termination of his tuai rumahship could be taken against him. He might lose his monthly allowance of RM450 per month. And the promised minor rural development projects might be withdrawn.

“In Datuk Daniel Tajem’s constituency of Bukit Begunan, he was defeated by a man, Mong Dagang, whom he had picked to replace him in the 1996 state election. Tajem practically lost in all the longhouses in the five polling districts.

Before the money came, many longhouse chiefs and their followers had pledged their support to him, who had represented them in six previous elections.

“After the distribution of money and the threats were issued, everything changed; longhouse headmen, their followers and even Tajem’s own relatives voted against him. And a similar tale of vote buying had also been reported in other Dayak constituencies.“

jumpover said...

Tuai rumah nya nadai kuasa nentu ka undi kitai. Anang takut ka emba sida nya...agi. Enti sida ka nyukung perintah "robert mugabe" nya awak ke sida meh...tang,
Bala nembiak baru udah mereti ka utai tu.

Nya kebuah aram meh sama2 madah ka bala rebak baru ka udah ulih nyunting/ ngundi ..ngambi ka sida ngerijester diri nyadi penyunting.

Aku..bisi mega berandau enggau bala2 ka rebak baru...lalu sida positif dalam hal perubahan tu.

Nya alai...bepilih ka datai tu ila nyangka bisi asai meh sida parti "Buruk Nyeluk" nya. Nadai agi nyamai baka ka udah-udah.

Perubahan...perubahan

riwang said...

Okay, now that we all KNOW about this, what are WE going to do about it? There's no point trying to convince the longhouse people about 'government bribery etc.' without providing an alternative to it all.