Thursday, March 11

The strong man of Layar

The following story which is taken from the Malaysian Mirror has been edited for the readers of The Broken Shield:

The strong man of Layar
By Joseph Tawie

BETONG – The Layar constituency in Betong which Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang has represented continuously for the past 35 years has seen so much progress so much so that he is so proud of his achievements that he invites Anwar Ibrahim, the Opposition leader to visit Betong to see for himself the development that has taken place.

And he also invites challengers and critics to his constituency and if they do come they better come during the day and should not wear sun glasses.

“If they come at night or if they wear sun glasses, they cannot see what developments are there in my constituency,” he said.

As PBB Deputy President and Deputy Chief Minister, Jabu has become so untouchable in the Layar Constituency, and so arrogant and egotistic that he does not tolerate any criticism to his leadership. He criticises Dayak non-governmental organisations as these organisations have little respect for him much less regard him as the “paramount chief” of the Iban community.

Since his election in 1974, there has never been any serious challenge to Jabu’s position in the constituency except during the days of the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak especially in 1987- 1991. His first “victim” in his first outing was none other than the secretary general of Sarawak National Party and former chief minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

Labeled as a “giant killer” Jabu went on to strengthen his position and relentlessly and mercilessly witch-hunted SNAP’s supporters so much so that the party has become irrelevant in its own place of birth.

To further strengthen his position, he set up a network of “spies” who would report to him anyone who voted against him or spoke ill of him. Many civil servants and teachers who were known to be voting for or inclined towards Opposition were ordered to be transferred out from the district while farmers voting against him were deprived of subsidies and other financial assistance.

And candidates who contested against him would bear the brunt of his criticism and cynical remarks. Usually these candidates after handing over their nomination papers would not dare campaign; nor there any banners and posters. Many simply disappeared from the constituency.

Only candidates representing PBDS did put up a brave front and caused some ripples in Jabu’s campaigns.

One consolation for any candidate contesting against Jabu was that, despite the lack of financial resources to carry out intensive campaigns and the absence of banners and posters, was sure to obtain between 1,000 and 2,600 votes.

For example in 1987, David Impi of PBDS secured 2691 votes as against 4,416 obtained by Jabu, and in 1991, PBDS’ Frank Apau obtained 2,361 compared with Jabu’s 4,847 votes. In the 2001 and 2006 elections, SNAP’s candidates managed to secure 1171 and 1195 votes respectively.

However, in the face of silver lining, there are patches of dark clouds running at random over the Layar Constituency what with the failed Layar growth centre, where empty shophouses are part of it and the Sungai Antu agriculture research centre which has become a “white elephant”. Under this project hundred acres of land, the majority of which are owned by Jabu’s relatives, have been placed under section 47. The project “kepayang” was one of fruit trees being researched.

There are also many uncompleted road projects and unfulfilled promises. Many see all these as Jabu’s main failures.

Thus, the next election may see some change in voting pattern as there are strong under currents against his leadership particularly with the young voters who have some access to internets and are fully informed on what is going on in the constituency and issues that affect them and their families.

“There are strong under currents against his leadership. I know about it since I live in the longhouse,” said Douglas Endawie, a former bank officer.

Endawie’s finding is being shared by Eddison Eddy, a retired civil servant. He said: “A large number of people in the Layar constituency are unhappy, but they dare not express their dissatisfaction openly for fear of political backlash.

“Even villagers from my longhouse Entanak and Empaong do not dare to express their anger even though the State Government took away their land about 100 acres using section 47 of the Land Code for public purposes. No doubt compensation had been paid.

“But 50 percent of the land has been given to private and crony companies for the construction of shophouses and houses. The other 50 percent are used for public purposes such as the construction of roads, government buildings and offices.

“We should have dealt directly with the companies so that we too can make more money rather than government taking our land and paying us nominal amount. So we feel cheated,”
lamented Eddy.

Eddy said that the villagers have no more land to plant cash crops and even to build houses. Eight families, he said, have to build their houses on a stream.

“We remain poor as we have no sources of incomes and that explains why you can only see the aged and the very young ones living in longhouses. The young and able people can be found in cities and towns in search of employment. Some work in coffee shops, restaurants, super markets and in the construction industry.

“Yes, there are developments, but only physical developments. And who benefit from those developments? Certainly we the people do not benefit.

“I think the people are ready for a change,”
said Eddy who has been active since his retirement three years ago.

Undoubtedly, he said Jabu has brought tremendous development to Betong especially after it achieved a division status in March 2002. Among others the division saw infrastructural development, schools, technical schools and Mara Science College, office buildings, shophouses and agricultural schemes.

But who benefit from all these developments?

As Eddy said the people do not benefit from all these developments. In the construction of infrastructure, contracts have been given to Jabu’s family companies such as Tintingmas Sdn Bhd and Betong Premix Sdn Bhd.

The Tintingmas Sdn Bhd whose directors include Jabu’s son Gerald Rentap, daughter Umang Nangku and Joseph Jinggut, is currently doing road construction and completion of proposed road improvement works to Ulu Layar/Nanga Tiga road which is worth about RM50 million.

The company is working closely with its sister company Betong Premix on Federal Road Routine Maintenance works in Region 2. The road starts in Sri Aman Division and stretches across Betong Division to Sarikei Division with total kilometre coverage of over 300km.

The Betong Premix Sdn Bhd whose directors include Jabu’s daughter, Umang Nangku and Joseph Jinggut supplies premix for road constructions and road construction services and maintenance for pavement works, road furniture works, drainage and culvert works in the division.

Currently, the premix plant which has a total of 33 employees has the capacity to produce 70 tonnes of premix per hour.

In the agricultural estates, the locals refuse to work in the plantations as the wages are too meager and far below the poverty line of RM720 per month. In their place, the Indonesian workers are ever ready to be employed. The effects of engaging Indonesian workers are many, but the obvious ones are that the workers are not properly screened bringing with them social ills and diseases such as malaria and chikungunya.

In the field of education, the students attending Mara Science College are those from outside Betong including from West Malaysia.

“These are the issues that Pakatan Rakyat must be able to understand and turn them as weapons against the BN incumbent,” said Eddy who was present at a political gathering at Melayu Ili, Betong on 7 February.

Former Police Officer Stanny Embat, who hails from the longhouse, said that Jabu has no more idea to help the people of Layar constituency.

“How much has he done to help the people? After more than 35 years of his patronage, enough is enough,” said Embat, a PR potential candidate for the constituency.

“Jabu has a lot of weaknesses and failures and we need to highlight these failures to the voters and make them understand the issues,” said Tedewin Ngumbang, another potential candidate for the constituency.

“We do not condemn and attack Jabu personally; we have to use psychology to convince the people to vote against him,” he said.

But will Jabu, now in his early 70s, be contesting especially after he underwent major by-pass operations in May last year which somewhat have slowed down his political activities?

However, speculation is rife that he may be replaced by either his Senator wife, Empiang or by one of his daughters.

No doubt the people in Layar want change judging from the political gathering organised on 7 February at Melayu Ili. But can PKR harness the growing discontentment of the people in the constituency into a “weapon of destruction” even if the candidate is Jabu, his wife or his daughter? – The Broken Shield



Anonymous said...

Mentaliti pengundi di Layar mahupun Bukit Saban, mereka mahu tahu latar belakang Calon, kredibiliti, integriti, dan asal-usul mereka (sejarah). Kalau Calon tu ada kelakuan yang tak baik maka mereka menolak beliau. Kalau Parti Pakatan Rakyaat tidak dapat 60% pengundi Iban maka harapan adalah tipis.

Adakah PR ada Wang, machinery dan logistik yang cukup? kalau tidak lupakan impian untuk merampas kerusi dari BN.

Anonymous said...

who benefited from the development? which contractors got the jobs?

does the developments benefit the laymen of Betong? why thw betong town is dead at night?

this guy should go out of Betong and go to KL to see what is development reaaly meant.

it is useless if development without benefiting the majority people but only selected fews....

development without improving the peoples living standard is total useless....

lu fikir la sendiri....


Anonymous said...

who say only the bn can bring development?? bn is only a politic party, bn use taxpayer money for the self interest developments....

any political party can be the goverment and make the country prosper...

time to see the BIGGER picture and do something for our grandchilrens future & living standard...

time to CHANGE goverment...


Anonymous said...

Iban Baru,

The strong man of Layar also known as an Iban Paramount Chief, he is none other than YB Datuk Patinggi Alfred Jabu ak. Humpang.

He is the best candidate for Layar, a choice by Iban Baru to serve him and his community. Bravo!

Crooks are Crooks said...

Strongman always have a sad ending.I haven't seen any well off dayaks putting his resources to good use. In any business they are bound to fail in the end.We will see how Jabu will sum up his.

Richard Loh said...

Najib had given his ministers the KPI, what about him, who is going to grade him.

Take this poll:

How would you grade the PM's KPI (key performance index) during his 1 year in office.