Saturday, May 29

Gawai Dayak Greetings from The Broken Shield

Jetty (JT) and family and the administrator of The Broken Shield would like to wish all the readers of The Broken Shield “Selamat Gawai Dayak, Gayu-guru, Gerai-nyamai, chelap-lindap, betuah-belimpah, pidik-langsik bulih duit, bulih ringgit, bulih laki, bulih bini, bulih anak, bulih telesak.”

Jetty and family will celebrate Gawai at their Kpg. Sungai Semabang, Simunjan. All are welcome to our humble house.

The Gawai of Goodwill

Jetty and Datuk Daniel Tajem posing for a photograph with a Dayak warrior (second from right)

On 19 May 2010, a 21-member delegation of Dayak and Kadazandusun communities left Kuching for Pontianak as guests of Majlis Adat Dayak Kalimantan Barat which was celebrating its 25th anniversary of Gawai Dayak.

The visit was also to reciprocate the visit made by the Indonesian Dayaks to the SDNU Gawai on 15 May in Kuching.
Two young Dayak girls performing a welcoming dance

The leader of the delegation was Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, chairman of the Borneo Forum. Also in the delegation was Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem, a member of the Forum and SDNU exco members including secretary general Joshua Jabing and Publicity chief Dr. Dusit Jaul.

We left Kuching at 10.30 a.m. and arrived at Pontianak at 8.30 p.m. after a tedious and tiring journey snaking through a narrow and winding road. On arrival at the newly built hotel, Mercure Hotel, which I was given to understand belongs to the Fullman group of hotels, we were received by our hosts. After checking in, we were entertained to a most sumptuous dinner of Dayak cuisine by the chairman of State Legislature, West Kalimantan, Bapak Vincent.

Guests from Sarawak and Sabah on arrival at the opening of the Gawai Dayak ceremony in Pontianak

Next day, we witnessed the opening of Gawai Dayak 25th anniversary celebration by the Governor of West Kalimantan Drs. Cornelis. Apart from us, there were top Dayak leaders, senior army and police officers, civil servants and other community leaders present at the ceremony.

It was a very colourful opening ceremony where young Dayak maidens proudly displayed their beauty clothed in their traditional attires and at the same time show-casing their “ngajat”. But the most breath-taking performance was done by two Dayak “Panglima” warriors, who after going into trance, started to do unthinkable things such as eating a live chicken and cutting themselves with razor-sharp parang ilang.

Two warriors demonstrating that they are knife-proof

To me and many others it was such a bizarre and scary performance to see.

Nevertheless, they say that the two were among the seven warriors who were most feared during the height of “Madura-Dayak clash 10 years ago in Kalimantan Tengah.

According to their story, the seven warriors were invincible and their parangs, like Chinese heroes in Chinese films, were only seen cutting the heads of their enemies.

Indonesian Dayak cultural dancers

The trouble with Madurese began when they became very aggressive and did not respect the rights of the Dayaks and seized their lands. The Dayaks could no longer tolerate the visitors. So trouble blew up between them.

According to them, the Dayaks in Sampit, Kalimantan Tengah were on the verge of surrender when the seven warriors from Pontianak came to help them. The Madurese were not only defeated, but hundreds of them were killed. That was their story.

By tracing these historical events, though unpleasant, I do not intend to play up this racial issue on this Gawai of Goodwill, but to perhaps learn a lesson or two from this tragedy for the good of all.

Now coming back to the gawai in Pontianak, I notice there are considerable and tangible changes among the Dayaks of West Kalimantan. I was here more than 10 years ago.

Today, some of the Dayaks occupy positions of authority in the State government of West Kalimantan with the governor who is like the position of our chief minister in Sarawak taking the lead. A Dayak Kanto, Barcunda Sturjaya, SH, MM is deputy manager, PT. Bank Central Asia Tbk and his wife Ir. Anna Veridiana Iman Kalis, another Dayak, is head of Economic and Development Bureau. The two are an example of how progressive are the Indonesian Dayaks nowadays.

West Kalimantan Dayaks started to have “freedom” 25 years ago during the regime of General Suharto. Under Soekarno, the Dayaks were suppressed, oppressed and marginalized and even treated like slaves. Their lands were seized by the government and given to Madurese under the government transmigration policy.

Now under President Bambang Susilo, the Dayaks have now recovered their own land where they have planted rubber, pepper, padi and even oil palm.

One thing that is very obvious is that the Dayaks of Indonesian Borneo comprising some 350 ethnic groups with a population of more than 14 million are fully united. They have now elected their own governor for West Kalimantan and another in Central Kalimantan.

Next day (21 May), Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan and Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem discussed with their Indonesian counterparts the proposed Borneo Forum, the objective of which is to strengthen the cultural ties of the Dayaks of Borneo.

The next meeting will be held in Kuching in July and to be followed by the official launch of the Forum.

The following was an interview with Dr. Kitingan. (The story was first published by The Free Malaysia Today on 24 May. It is reproduced here for the benefit of readers of the Broken Shield).

PONTIANAK: A Kadazandusun leader, Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan has called for greater cultural and social interactions between the Dayaks of West Kalimantan and Sabah and Sarawak as these will be the beginning of many things to come.

“These (interactions) will be helpful for the future,” he said.

Kitingan was speaking at a dinner hosted by Dewan Adat Dayak of West Kalimantan in Pontianak on Wednesday night.

Kitingan led a 25-member delegation from Sabah and Sarawak to the Pontianak as guests of the Gawai Dayak festival held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of its celebration.

Among those in the delegation were Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem and officials of the Sarawak Dayak National Union.

Apart from attending the opening of Gawai Dayak by the Governor of West Kalimantan Drs. Cornelis on 20 May, Kitingan and Tajem also attended discussions on the set up of Borneo Forum with their counterparts.

The forum which will be officially launched in Kuching later this year will be the vital link that unites the Dayaks of Borneo through culture.

In an exclusive interview with the Free Malaysian Today, Kitingan who is also the Forum chairman said their visit to Pontianak was very significant.

“Now we are connected and we feel we belong to one people. We need and agree to work together,” he said.

“Our visit here, I think, is very important motivation. It will be the beginning of many things to come,” he added.

On calls by the leaders of Dewan Adat Dayak for one Borneo, One Dayak, One culture, Kitingan said: “I think we all agree on that. The meaning is more than that.

“The immediate focus is on unity through culture, because it cuts across boundary. Our networking, friendship and the rest will develop from here,”
he said.

Kitingan described the forum as very important to create one Borneo-wide vehicle to map-out what the thing we can do immediately, in the long term or in the in medium term.

“I think a lot more interactions and communication can be developed, and for sure we can link up economically through business and many potential opportunities of cooperation.

“We have culture, environment, the economy and the indigenous rights. All these will automatically develop from here,”
he said, pointing out that the Dayaks of Borneo have rich culture that can be marketed to the world.

“It is important that we market our culture together,” he stressed.

Wednesday, May 26

Ibans the kindest people in the world?

A friend of mine from Sarikei rang up telling me that the Ibans are the kindest people in the world.

He said: “Diambi orang tanah, bala Iban nadai nemu ringat; rumah, buah enggau getah ditebang orang bala Iban nadai nemu nganu; bansa bukai diberi api-ai, tang bala Iban dikelaong nadai nemu ringat; bala anak sida enda diberi scholarship, enti bekereja enda niki pangkat, enda diberi gaji, pen bala Iban enda ringat.

“Ketegal sida enda ringat, laban udah diberi duit RM200 kena nabar ke pengeringat sida iya, lalu pia mega sida dipinta ngundi Perintah Barisan ke ngerempas tanah sida. Bala Iban lalu ukai semina ngundi parti ke megai Perintah tang lalu muji bala sida ke ngerampas tanah,” pia ko iya.

“Peda ulih nuan bala Iban ke di Bawang Assan, sida di Pasai, Penasu enggau di Rasau bisi 80 peratus ngundi parti SUPP ke udah nipu, ngemula sereta lalu nadai udah mai pemansang ngagai menua Iban.

“Enti apai Robert Lau Hui Yew, iya nya Lau Swee Nguong ke nyadi chairman bala compani KTS, endang gela-gela ngerampas tanah Iban di menua nya, agi ga bala Iban di menua nya nyukong anak iya. Amai-amai meh kitai Iban tu purih Apai Saloi. Patut Abdul Hadi Awang, ketuai PAS ngumbai bala kitai Iban tu agi besirat.

“Diatu bisi dua iti saman nawa Lau Swee Nguong ketegal ke ngerampas tanah Iban,” pia ko pangan aku.

"Leboh Datuk Daniel Tajem campaign ke Pakatan Rakyat di Rumah Baseh, Rumah Robert Lingga enggau di Pasai, iya madah ngagai bala Iban enti kita agi nyunting parti SUPP tauka parti Barisan Nasional, reti nya kita tu meh baka makai asam maram, lalu uchu-ichit kita ila semina ensepi air liur masam kita aja".

I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by my friend from Sarikei. And after what he told me I also agree that perhaps Ibans are the kindest people in the world.

They do get angry when their lands are taken away from them; they do cry when their longhouses, fruit trees and cash crops are destroyed; they do make complaints when their longhouses do not have water supply or electricity; they do make noise when their children do not get scholarships, do not get promotions or being recruited into the civil service.

But their anger is short-lived when they receive RM200 as rewards to vote for a Barisan candidate. They prefer to receive RM200 rather than several millions of ringgit worth of their land.

Isn’t this the stupidity of “Apai Saloi”? Or are we Ibans the kindest people in the world? – The Broken Shield



Welcoming speech by Dr. Dusit Jaul, Chairman of Organising Committee:

Yang saya hormati saudara dan saudari pengacara majlis;

Sebelum saya menyampaikan ucapan rasmi, saya mohon izin untuk menyampaikan ucapan pembukaan khas dalam bahasa Iban.

Nya alai lemai tu
Kitai begempuru ditu
Baka tematu kerang kepayang,
Amat mayuh meh kitai ari beluh nyaru arang
Amat banyak ari nyemetak Tinting Kedang
Nyau bepadat kitai baka sikat pisang jerenang
Nyau duduk rapit kitai betambit pintu tapang
Nyadi penatai kitai tu
Ukai ari siti menua, siti bansa
Bisi kitai datai ari menua jauh pancar suluh bulan terang
Tang mayuh agi ke datai ari menua semak dinga pangkung tawak sekali nerentang.
Enti kitai merening tunga ka kanan
Nya bala menyadi kitai ke datai ari Kalimantan
Nya ga menua asal pesaka lama kitai bansa Iban
Sida iya datai kitu cukup ngena ngepan
Enggau kitai ngintu pengawa Gawai Dayak kitai Iban
Ngambika kaul kitai semampai rat, tan baka kah tebelian
Enda tebuka selama jeman, rat tanchang enda beguyang
Nya alai ketegalnya
Dia kitai enda tau enda ngangauka Biku Bunsu Petara
Pantan Inan Jadia
Ngangau ka Lai Nyakai Menaul Benda
Mesanka Bunsu Bulan
Nyapa bintang tiga
Ngambika sida datai sereta
Pia ga kitai enda tau enda ngangauka orang di Panggau Libau
Ke gegiau Takang Isang
Ngangauka orang di Merawa Lama
Munyi ke berimba Bong Nebang
Ngangauka Keling Aji ke berani ati mutus kempang
Ngangauka Bungai Nuing Manuk Biring di sabung mali lengang
Sereta enggau semua sida serumah
Datai magang nadai timpang
Datai bekaling alu, betambit pintu
Raja Ribai mega di kumbai
Datai ari Bungai Pangka Pasang, tasik gilik gumbang
Datai kitu!
Sama enggau kitai begempuru ditu ngerami Gawai Dayak
Mai ubat serangkap genap
Mai pengaruh gembar tubuh
Batu Pengaya, ubat pengeraja
Ubat pengerapit pengaul bansa
Awakka kitai tu ila begulai sejalai diri sebala
Sama berakup ngering ka bansa
Ngemansangka juluk 1Malaysia
Ngambika tebilang ditunda urang!


-YB Dato Sri William Mawan ak. Ikom
-YB Senator Dato Empiang Jabu
-Y.Bhg Dato Sri Daniel Tajem & Datin
-Y.Bhg Dato Edmund Langgu & Datin
- Mr Mengga Mikui and Mrs
-Y.Berusaha Temenggong James Jimbun and Mrs
- Bapak Makarius Sintong
- Bapak Thadeus Yus dan Ibu Katharina Lies
- Mr. Chulin Serang
- Members of SDNU SEC
- Members of the Press
- Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

A very good evening and Salam 1Malaysia; Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan. Talk of 1Malaysia. What is it that in 1Malaysia we can see in our Gawai this evening?

Rakyat Didahulukan

In the spirit of 1Malaysia, our SDNU Gawai Dayak Dinner this evening is truly the rakyat’s celebration. All of you have made your way here through your own pocket. Your presence here is not subsidised by any other parties.

Tonight is therefore your Gawai. Because we all pay for it, this Gawai is also our Gawai. Since we are all Dayak, this is also our Gawai Dayak attended by many of our non Dayak friends – this is truly 1Malaysia at work.

I am sure you all agree with me that your financial sacrifice is not wasted; it is to be spent on a noble cause; to uphold Dayak culture and tradition; the Gawai Dayak. With us ordinary rakyat of Dayak origin gather here this evening, our Gawai is truly an authentic
Gawai Dayak.

Pencapaian Diutamakan;

Ladies and gentleman,

Since my involvement with SDNU, I have NOT seen a Gawai crowd of this magnitude. For the record, this evening we have 120 tables. The only limiting factor for other Dayak friends from NOT joining us here this evening is that this hall is not able to accommodate more.

Right up to this morning, there were still many more of our Dayak brothers and sisters who wanted to purchase dinner tables. Unfortunately, we have to decline them due to space constraint. My humble apology to them.

What this means is that if we set aside differences and work together, if we’re willing to mobilise our collective resources, we can deliver much more for the Dayak community.

Our Gawai Dayak dinner this evening is very significant; Significant in the sense that:
We have managed to overcome obstacles created by the divisive factors of geography, political inclination and ethnic groups. Because we’re able to set aside differences, so we have here this evening fellow Dayak friends from far and near. We have the Ibans, the Bidayuhs and the Orang Ulu.

The second significant is this. Though we’re living in a modern world so to say, we Dayak have not forgotten our culture and tradition. Now, this is a very relevant point for us to ponder upon. I am reminded by the Malay saying that say, Hilang Budaya, Hilang Bangsa. Gawai is unique to the Dayak; Gawai is exclusive to the Dayak. I am pretty sure you all agree with me that we must uphold it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year, our Gawai Dinner theme is “Celebrating Dayak Cultural Uniqueness”. This evening we will get to see the presentation of our unique and authentic Dayak culture. What more with the presence and strong support of our Dayak brothers and sisters from across the border.

Ladies and gentlemen

This evening i would like to invite you all to acknowledge the presence of our special guests; they are our Dayak brothers and sisters from KALBAR. Adil katalino, bacermin ka syurga, basengat kajubata.

Rombongan saudara mara kita dari KALBAR terdiri dari tiga persatuan:

Majlis Adat Dayak Nasional Indonesia pimpinan Bapak Makarius Sintong
Dewan Adat Dayak KALBAR pimpinan Bapak Thadeus Yus
Persatuan Perempuan Dayak KALBAR pimpinan ibu Katharina Lies.

Bapak-bapak, ibu-ibu:

Kami amat menghargai semangat kerjasama budaya yang telah ditunjukan oleh bapak-bapak dan ibu ibu. Kami faham bahawa bapa-bapak dan ibu ibu sekalian sedang sibuk dengan persediaan Gawei Dayak di KALBAR yang akan bermula pada tanggal 19 Mei. Namun begitu, demi kerjasama budaya sesama kita bangsa Dayak, bapak bapak dan ibu ibu tetap memberi sokongan dan kerjasama kepada kami di sini. Ini satu semangat pengorbanan dan kerjasama yang harus dicontohi oleh kita semua.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We also have with us here this evening our Dayak friends from Labuan headed by Mr. Chulin Serang. Let us give them a warm welcome.

This evening we have lined up a number of interesting events. We will get to see cultural presentations by our local performers as well as from our KALBAR brothers and sisters. Our KALBAR brothers and sisters are kind enough to share their Kumang Gawai with us. They are with us this evening and we will get to see them parading Dayak costume on stage later. The highlight of this evening program is of course the much awaited event, the Kumang Gawai contest. We have 15 finalists, all beautiful Dayak maiden. So stay tune right to the very end.

This biggest ever SDNU Gawai Dayak dinner could not have been possible without the cooperation of many parties. Many individuals and associations have come forward to lend their support, especially in buying dinner tables and advertising pages in the souvenir program. We have the STAR for example becoming our official paper for the dinner and sponsoring Ms Photogenic with RM1000 cash prize.

Supports from members of the press have been very encouraging. This evening they are present in full force making this year Gawai dinner one to be remembered by all.

There are too many of you; individuals and associations alike who have come forward to support us. To mention all of you one by one is time consuming. Believe me, we in the Organising Committee appreciate your kind support.

Notwithstanding what I have just said, there are few personalities who deserve to be mentioned here.

Dato’ Sri William Mawan ak Ikom – Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation. For the record, YB Dato’ is one Dayak leader who had never declined an invitation to grace SDNU functions.

Mr. Mengga Mikui: President SDNU - his leadership, his support and advise comes in handy. It is through his hard work that we have attractive prizes for this year’s Kumang Gawai contest.

Finally, my thanks to members of the Organising Committee for your commitment and contributions. This evening we can see the fruits of your hard work and dedication.

Sebedau aku ngundur ka diri, aku deka besampi ngagai Petara ke diau di perabung serega ngambika meri berkat ngagai kitai semua.

Laban ari tu udah beganti; minggu nyau ka lalu
Bulan nyau ka padam
Taun nyau ka nyampun,
Awak ka gawai taun tu mai tuah, mai limpah manah ari taun ka udah
Ngambi ka kitai empusung baka bukit, ngebung baka langit
Tampak baka pulau, luas baka danau
Ngambi ka pengawa kami tu nyadi
Baka wi tampung tali, baka ijuk tampung penduk
Ngambi ka taun tu mai jereki
Dayak ke bumai bulih padi, Dayak ke belajar bulih degree,
Iya ke dara bulih laki, iya ka bujang bulih bini
Iya ka megai parti nyadi Kepala Menteri
Charik labung batik, ganti labung betawi,
Pecah periuk tanah, ganti periuk betani
Nadai sida ka tuai, di ganti bala kami
Gayu ko Sentuku, gerai ko Sempandai
Bulih pengeraja, bulih pengaya semua kitai ka begempuru ditu malam tu.
Salam gawai, salam perpaduan, have a wonderful evening.Adil katalino, Bacermin ka syurga, Basengat kajubata.

Tuesday, May 18

SUPP’s defeat spells rocky days ahead

The following story was first published by the Malaysian Mirror and it is now published here for the readers of The Broken Shield.

By Joseph Tawie
17 May 2010

SIBU - The Barisan Nasional-Sarawak United People’s Party has failed to retain Sibu parliamentary seat despite massive injection of money worth more than RM400 million and the promise of more to come for various development projects and plus plenty of “goodies”.

Robert Lau Hui Yew secured 18,477 votes as against Richard Wong of 18,845 votes, a majority of votes of 398 votes in one of the most hotly contested by-election. The May 16 by-election was held after the death of Robert Lau Hoi Chew on 9 April.

“This is a serious setback for the Barisan Nasional especially for SUPP,” said a political observer.

The defeat must have been very bitter especially after all Federal Ministers including Prime Minister Najib and his Deputy Muhyiddin Yassin put their hearts to the campaign. Najib himself made three campaign visits to Sibu to ensure the BN’s victory.

The BN was determined to add another victory to its number of MPs after its victory on the 25 April by-election in Hulu Selangor. But all their efforts failed.

So the BN leadership must be wondering what went wrong with their campaigns, their promises and with their policies.

The rejection is seen by many as a clear signal of not only troubles to come to the Barisan Nasional particularly to SUPP in the coming state election less than one year from now, but one that may start the “vote4change” tsunami in the state which has been controlled by the State Barisan under Abdul Taib Mahmud for more 29 years.

In this by-election, Taib and his administration have been one of the core issues so much so that Taib appeared to be a liability. It is said that Najib has advised him not to campaign in the town areas otherwise more Chinese would vote for DAP.

DAP has accused Taib’s politics of development as “politics of discrimination, nepotism and corruption”. The policy on land and NCR land, the awarding of timber concessions, government contracts, etc are examples of injustice and unfairness. And even the tallest Sanyan building which Taib’s brother owns also becomes an issue in Sibu.

And SUPP, being part of the government, is also to be blamed for the discriminatory policies in particular against the ordinary Chinese, while the wealthy and influential Chinese become richer.

Even the Ibans in the rural areas are badly affected by these policies. The lack of infrastructure, the absence of clean water and electricity supply in some of the 110 longhouses is an example of this neglect.

When Najib went to one of the longhouses to campaign, he saw certain houses have no electricity. He was very embarrassed. He ordered an immediate electricity connection. Luckily there were some SESCO wiremen following Najib.

Another factor that might have contributed to SUPP’s failure to retain the seat was the unsolvable bickering over the formation of the Dudong Branch. The leader of the Dudong branch and over 3,000 of his supporters were excluded in the campaign. The Malaysian Mirror commented on this one week or so before the polling.

Other causes of SUPP’s defeat are due to the less number of postal votes (2,673) as compared with the previous one of slightly over 3,000 votes and also the transfer of more than 3,000 voters from Sibu parliamentary constituency to Lanang parliamentary constituency.

Implications of the defeat are aplenty. And the obvious one is that money is not the determining factor as far as the Chinese voters are concerned. The Chinese see that the giving of money during a by-election shows the government is not sincere in helping the people who have been suffering for decades.

“Why should we wait for a by-election for the Barisan Nasional to pour money into the constituency?” asked a retired civil servant.

In that case the people hoped that their MPs or DUN members either die or resign if they wanted development money and other “goodies”, he said ironically.

Secondly, the people are fed-up with the present State government and are looking for change. With the existence of a two party system, the people have a choice. If they do not like you, they will vote you out.

Politics of promise and lies cannot sustain in today’s election as the majority of voters now are young people who can identify between truths and lies. Threats and intimidation cannot work any more in a sophisticated and knowledgeable society.

For the Pakatan, the victory is considered extremely important badly needed to prod up its moral especially in the midst of resignations from PKR, a partner in the Pakatan.

Indeed the victory is an ample proof that the Pakatan has the support of the people. As Lim Kit Siang said, the victory is considered the first step in the Pakatan march towards Putrajaya.

Locally, the victory is seen as a barometer for the coming state election that may be called between now and May next year. At stake are the Chinese majority seats held by SUPP including seats of Pelawan and Bawang Assan in the Sibu Parliamentary constituency and nearby state seat of Dudong in the Lanang Parliamentary constituency. The other state seat of Bukit Assek in the Lanang constituency is already in the hands of DAP.

The tsunamic effect of this victory may also roll over down river to the state constituency of Repok in the Sarikei parliamentary constituency or even to Kuching, Bau, Sri Aman and Miri.

For the first time, the voters saw the formation of Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak announced before the by-election by DAP, PKR, PAS and SNAP working as a team as a possible alternative to the State Barisan Nasional Government.

For the Pakatan, this was the first time that they worked as one team and its strategy worked to its advantage.

While DAP concentrated its efforts to woo and “control” the Chinese voters throughout the campaign, PAS went all out to explain the policies of the Pakatan in the Malay kampongs.

Initially, PAS campaigners were refused entry by the house owners, but they came through the back door and were able to convey their message.

DAP lost heavily in the 2008 parliamentary election. But this time around the loss had been minimized to only 500 votes.

In the Iban longhouses, the PKR was given the task to campaign.

For decades, the people in the longhouses have never known any other parties except SUPP. In fact the DAP leaders have never set foot in these longhouses during election times. There was no alternative, but for the Ibans to vote for SUPP.

But in this by-election, at least the Ibans know there is an Opposition as its campaigners led by PKR Dayak leaders visited every single longhouse in the Rasau, Bawang Assan, Penasu and Pasai polling districts.

“Before only Malays and Chinese came to talk to us about politics,” said a woman whose age is about 70.

“You people are the first from the Opposition to visit us and talk to us about issues that affect,” she said.

It was not an easy task to campaign in these longhouses as they have been “brainwashed” by Barisan leaders through Radio and TV and have been fed with rosy stories, about politics of development, the development of native customary rights lands, the lies of the Opposition, and etc and etc.

But the visits made by the Opposition leaders such as Anwar Ibrahim, Daniel Tajem and Baru Bian to longhouses have helped to open up their minds and eyes to see the “truths” of their side of the stories.

For example, the issues on native customary rights land that has been seized by the government and has been leased to big companies for the planting of oil palm.

Tajem told them to defend their land as it is their most valuable asset. “Take away their land, the Ibans will be like fish without water. In other words, they will die,” he said.

Tajem warned them that if they continued to vote the Barisan Nasional then they were going to lose more of their land.

The Opposition campaigns in some of the longhouses had made the BN leaders more worried as a result the BN ministers made several visits to these longhouses not only to counter issues made by the Opposition leaders but also to make promises of monetary rewards.

For instance, after Anwar’s visit to Rumah Baseh in the Bawan Assan area, Deputy Prime Minister made a visit to the longhouse, and his visit was followed by visits of other Federal and State ministers.

Although the Pakatan candidate lost nearly 2,000 of the Iban votes, the voting percentage of the Ibans for Robert Wong has increased between 30 and 35 percent. Previously Robert Wong received almost next to nothing.

With the victory in the by-election, political awakening has slowly begun among the people. Nevertheless, Pakatan needs to work much harder in the coming election in order to waken the rural people from their deep political slumber.

As James Masing, president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak said that the rural constituencies will be the “battle ground” for the coming state election.

In other words, the road to Petrajaya in Kuching depends on who controls the rural constituencies.

Monday, May 17

Gawai Dayak 2010

This year Gawai Dayak saw greater unity among the Dayaks of Borneo as evident by the presence of our Dayak brothers and sisters Majlis Adat Dayak Nasional Indonesia and Kadazandusun Cultural Association of Sabah.

“My hope is that this kind of collaborative effort among the three biggest associations that represent the indigenous people of Borneo will be sustained,” said William Mawan, Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation in a message in the souvenir programme for the pre-gawai dinner-cum-cultural show on 15 May.

Gawai, he said, is a time for joy and celebration. More important, Gawai is also a time for us to forge the spirit of unity.

“This is the time for us to let go the divisive elements in us, whatever it may be. This is especially so among us Dayaks whom we know comprise many ethnic groups and coming from regions and localities far apart.

“It is not far-fetched for me to say that Gawai is a powerful unifying factor for us,”
he said.

I was hoping that this Gawai gathering should be the best one that I ever attended especially when witnessing the performance of the Indonesian Dayak cultural troupe.

But my hope was dashed and I was in no mood to enjoy after we were shabbily treated. I am referring to an ugly incident that could have been adverted, if there was a strict supervision by the organising committee.

Someone should have been appointed to ensure the table arrangement and numbering of tables was not disturbed. This type of incident kept on being repeated over and over again. Why can’t we learn from past mistakes?

For the night Gawai function, we bought a RM500 table hoping to be seated nearer the stage where the “Kumang” contest was to be held. And the colour of the tickets was pink indicating the RM500 table. We arrived at 6.00 pm.

To our surprise, we were asked to seat on a Table number 25J covered with a purple table cloth meant for the RM400 table. We were not the ones affected as there were few other people faced with similar problems. Ambrose Gramong and his guests were also grumbling as they asked to sit on a RM350 table.

I asked the SDNU Secretary General Joshua Jabing and assistant secretary Spencer Birai of the organising committee as to why we were seated in the RM400 table when our table should be in the RM500? They could not explain.

Naturally, each one of these people who were seated with me demanded the return of their RM10. It was very embarrassing to me and the guests. Worst if non-Dayaks were involved.

In future, no one wants to buy RM500 tables if this is the type of treatment that greets us.

Let us learn one or two things from this incident. One, numbering all the tables in their order and not one here, two at the other end and 20 near the table number one, and so and so on. In other words do not jumble the numbering of the tables.

If the tables are priced differently, then make a clear division. Someone should supervise this arrangement.

Please look after the comfort of the dinner guests, otherwise you are going to embarrass not only the organising committee, but also reflect badly on the SDNU as well as Dayak community.

And please do not allow other people who do not like SDNU to have an opportunity to criticise and condemn the organisation. We have enough of it. – The Broken Shield


Friday, May 14

Help us to catch the biggest crocodile

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng called on the people of Sibu to vote for Wong Ho Leng so that their voice will be heard in Parliament.

“Once elected, Wong will not be like any other BN Members of Parliament, who are scared of their UMNO masters. In Sarawak, he will not be scared of Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“Look at all SUPP MPs and DUN members, they are all scared of Taib Mahmud,”
said Lim who is DAP secretary general in a political rally in Sibu last night (13 May).

Lim also told the voters that Sarawak is the richest State in the country, and one third of the Malaysia’s incomes come from Sarawak’s oil and gas.

Sarawak is also rich in timber and has plenty of land, and yet the people of this State especially the Ibans are the poorest in the country.

“Why are the people are poor, because there are many big crocodiles in Sarawak?

“Please help us to catch the biggest crocodile in the State by voting Wong Ho Leng into Parliament,”
he said. – The Broken Shield


Wednesday, May 12

‘Buy-election’ people first, after ‘buy-election’ people last?

Before and after the nomination day (8 May), the Sibu by-election has been turned into a ‘Sibu buy-election” when practically all federal ministers starting from Prime Minister Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to ministers and to deputy ministers have come down to Sibu to show that they really care for the people of Sibu. State ministers including Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud have been overshadowed by their visits and their activities.

The Federal Minister of Agriculture talks of improving agriculture, Higher Education minister talks about higher education, rural development minister on rural development, minister of transport talks on airport extension programme, minister of health talks about upgrading Sibu Hospital to become tertiary and excellent centre, minister of youth and sports talks about talks about increasing sports faculties in Sibu, and so on and so forth. Some stay put from the nomination day until polling day. Prime Minister Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin visit Sibu twice in the eight-day of campaign.

These ministers, when they come to Sibu, bring with them some “goodies” such as fertilizers which are to be distributed to the poor farmers and promises of financial allocations for infrastructural development, schools, surau, masjid, repairs to longhouses, flood mitigations projects, and etc, etc.

The ministers’ favourite place is the central market where there are Iban, Chinese and Malay vegetable vendors, traders and small-time businessmen. They shake hands with the vegetable sellers. Some are trying to hold chickens wrapped in newspapers so that photographers will take pictures of them – just to show they are with the chicken sellers.

From all these programmes of activities, it seems that the ministers really treat people first performance now.

After the ‘buy-election’ they all disappear and the “buy-election” will become “bye-bye-election”. Promises forgotten and financial allocations never come. Suddenly the people become last, performance later – waiting perhaps for the next general election.

The Batang Ai ‘buy-election’ in April last year is a good example when people suddenly become last and performance never performed. During the campaign the people were first, performance now.

Now one year one month has gone and the promises left forgotten and unfulfilled. For example, the promise of tar-sealing roads in and around SALCRA plantations has not been fulfilled. The road to Ensawang village for example has not been tar-sealed until today. Roofing materials and the supply of clean water promised to this longhouse have never arrived. There are hundreds of longhouses have been cheated this way. Go to Batang Ai and ask the people there to prove my point.

What about the proposed road between Lemanak and Engkari which were supposed to cost more than RM70 million? And what about telecom towers? Even the promise of RM500 to each voter, if the BN candidate won, has not been received by them.

I understand the majority of the 110 longhouses in the Sibu parliamentary constituency is no different from other longhouses elsewhere – no piped water and supply of 24 electricity even though the main electrical wires pass over some of the longhouses.

For Sibu voters, especially the Iban voters, think first before you cast your votes.The Broken Shield


Sunday, May 9

Anwar’s message to Iban voters

SIBU: Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Rakyat Opposition leader, today reminded the Ibans that they will continue to lose their native customary rights (NCR) land if they continue to support the Barisan Nasional government.

“Many of you have already lost your land and will continue to lose your land if you continue to support the Barisan Government,” he said at Rumah Baseh’s 28-door longhouse, Bawang Assan.

“There are hundreds of court cases of NCR land being brought by the Ibans against the BN government as a result of their land being taken away and given to companies and their cronies,” he said.

“Don’t vote for the BN-SUPP candidate because SUPP is part and parcel of the State Government that has caused a lot of troubles to the Ibans.

“If you vote for the BN-SUPP candidate, you are courting trouble. Your rights over land have been taken away and forests around you have been cleared in order to make the BN leaders and their cronies richer,”
Anwar stressed.

Anwar who was accompanied by the Pakatan-DAP candidate Richard Wong Ho Leng, told the Ibans to put a stop to this discriminatory policy of land grabbing.

He told them that it was important for them to vote for the Pakatan-DAP candidate, Richard Wong in order to send a strong message to the state government.

“Help us to help you protect your land,” he added.

“We must change this government and change must begin from this by-election,” Anwar said and assured the Ibans that under Pakatan government they would be treated fairly and their land would be protected.

The Pakatan government would not be corrupted like the BN government, he said.

Anwar arrived in Sibu on Saturday to help campaign for the Pakatan-DAP candidate in the by-election.

Iban voters who form about 20% of the 54,695 voters in the Sibu parliamentary constituency are regarded as “king maker” in the by-election scheduled for 16 May.

The by-election which was necessitated by the death of the MP for Sibu Robert Lau Hoi Chew on 9 April will see a three-cornered fight between Pakatan-DAP candidate, BN-SUPP Robert Lau Hui Jew and an independent, Narawi Haron.


Wednesday, May 5

Who are against 1Malaysia concept?

1Malaysia concept as espoused by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should be accepted by all if it is to be implemented. In spirit or sloganeering alone is not enough; it must be implemented in deed and in action.

Under the concept “every race is equal” as Dr. James Masing, PRS president explained over Radio Iban some time ago.

But there are people, government departments, ministries and universities which are working against this concept.

For example, UiTM is one such organisation which does not practise 1Malaysia concept.

Starting 29 April until 7 May, UiTM campuses in the country are recruiting students who achieved only 4 credits to be adopted under “Destini anak Bansa” (literally it means the destiny of our children).

In its campus at Kota Samarahan, 500 students will be recruited for this programme for the various pre-university courses with food and lodging given free especially whose parents are earning RM500 or less per month.

The programme is ranging from six months to one year.

If you look into the programme, it appears that the UiTM staff and lecturers are concentrating only in Malay kampongs such as Tabuan Melayu, Sg. Apong, Kpg. Gita, Kpg. Tupong, Pusa, Bako, Senari, Gobil, Muara Tebas, Demak Laut, Semerah Padi, Buso, Kpg. Gedong, Simunjan, Asajaya, Limbang, Santubong, Mukah, Niah, Bekenu, Sematan, Lundu and Bintulu to name some of the kampongs.

Nothing is mentioned about Dayak Iban longhouses in places like Julau, Pakan, Meluan, Kanowit, Kapit, Selangau, Bukit Begunan and other Dayak Iban areas. Certainly, there are thousands of Dayak Iban students who only obtained 4 credits in last year SPM examination. And I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of Dayak Iban parents who are hardcore poor who also need help.

And at the same time all the teachers/lecturers who conduct the interviews are all Malays. But why are Dayak Iban lecturers not involved?

What the UiTM campus at Kota Samarahan is doing is certainly opening the eyes of Ibans and Iban leaders (if they can really open their eyes due to their eyes covered with greed, financial considerations and fear.)

This is only one organisation that is practising “Ketuanan Melayu”, and there are many departments, ministries and government agencies we know and we do not know that are practising this “Apartheid” policy.

Another case of injustice is the recent exercise in which some 800 students were interviewed for Public Service Commission scholarships to take up medicine, pharmacy, engineering, and etc in overseas universities. In Kuching alone, there were 300 students. In one stream of 185 students, there were only 11 Dayaksfour Ibans, one Orang Ulu and six Bidayuhs.

As far as the Kuching interview was concerned, this is indeed a very poor representation of the Ibans.

But can we blame the authorities for all these inconsistencies, unfairness and injustices? Certainly no! The Iban leaders themselves – the YBs and the Ministers - are to be blamed because they do not stand up and speak up for the Iban community.

Allow me to digress a little bit. I really appreciate what Dayak Bidayuhs like Peter Minos dare to demand (not ask) from the government. When they ask for one deputy minister, the federal government gives them not one, but two including the forthcoming appointment of my friend Richard Riot. The other is James Dawos. They also demand from SUPP that the post of chairman of Padawan Municipal Council be given to a Bidayuh or else SUPP and BN will lose two Bidayuh seats of Bengoh and Opar. They hold the government at ransom.

On top of that the Bidayuh community asked for RM4 million to repair or to renovate the DBNA building, the government not only obliged, but also gave them more than what they asked for.

And as for our Iban leaders, they do not stand up or speak up. Some of our YBs are just like the Iban expression “baka ramaong di rumah raong di tanah” (literally it means they are just like leopards/tigers in the house and toads on land). While at their constituencies or longhouses, they talk big, wanting to be heard by their wives and supporters, but in Parliament or State legislative assembly, they are sleeping. They are only “jagoh kampong” (local champions).

But there are others who are “raong di rumah ramaong di tanah”. While in the house they pretend to be very quiet, because they are scared of their wives, but outside they really enjoy themselves drinking in the company of beautiful women and singers. Some YBs keep not one mistress, but two or three. And I am not jealous when I point out this. Far from it. But what I want to stress here is that being a public figure representing our community, they should speak up and fight for the interest of the people who voted for them. Instead they are doing the apple polishing and womanizing.

No wonder Dayak Ibans do not get any respect from other communities, nor do they get anything from the government given the type of leaders we do have now. - The Broken Shield

Sunday, May 2


(This story was first published by The Malaysian Mirror and is reproduced for the readers of The Broken Shield)

By Joseph Tawie
SIBU – The fight for the control of Bandar Sibu between Sarawak DAP chairman Richard Wong Ho Leng and a new comer Robert Lau Hui Yew of SUPP in the forth- coming by-election scheduled for 16 May is expected to generate not only great interest among the public, but one that has many political implications.

Too much is stake for both sides of the political divide. If DAP is to win it, it will mean SUPP is going to suffer in the coming State election. Likewise, if SUPP is to win it, it will mean, the road to Putrajaya will be closed.

“If we win this by-election, it is the signal that we are marching towards Putrajaya,” DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang declared over a dinner in Sibu. He knows that the next target is the other 30 parliamentary seats.

Currently the Opposition has one seat – the Bandar Kuching seat – to its credit.

Sarawak which has 31 MPs is being considered the “fixed deposit” of the Barisan Nasional.

The by-election has been called following the death of the MP for Sibu and deputy minister of transport Robert Lau Hoi Chew on 9 April.

Nomination day has been set for 8 May.

After the Hulu Selangor by-election, all the nation’s eyes are now focused on the Sibu by-election as to which party has the support of 54,695 voters, 66% of this total are Chinese voters. The rest are Malay/Melanau voters forming about 17%, followed by Ibans 15% and the rest are Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and Indian voters.

There are 2,537 postal voters.

Despite Robert Lau junior being a “greenhorn”, the Barisan Nasional-SUPP is confident that he will retain the seat for the Barisan Nasional.

“The Prime Minister is impressed with his credentials,” said Sarawak Barisan chairman and Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud when announcing the candidacy of Robert Lau who is a lawyer and a Sibu councillor.

Some consider the by-election is even more interesting as it is held immediately on the heel of the recently concluded Hulu Selangor by-election in which the Barisan Nasional has reclaimed the seat even though it lost Chinese votes heavily to Pakatan.

“That is the reason why the by-election has generated so much interest among the politically conscious people, because they are interested to know how the Chinese in Sibu will vote. Will they vote for SUPP or DAP?” asked a political observer.

And according to the voting trend in the 2008 parliamentary election, only about 40% to 45% of the Chinese voted for SUPP’s Robert Lau. Lau’s victory was due to votes coming from Iban, Malay/Melanau and postal votes.

Had it not been for these votes, the result of the last election in this constituency might have gone to Wong Ho Leng of DAP who secured 15,903 as against 19,138 obtained by the late Lau – a majority of 3,235 votes.

Few factors which are going to influence the general voting pattern of the Chinese in the country are UMNO’s support for the “ultra” Perkasa whose aim is to protect Malay rights allegedly threatened by Chinese and others. The other is Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration that he is Malay first and Malaysian second. As such Prime Minister Najib’s 1Malaysia concept appears to be hollow.

These are some of the factors that have hardened some Chinese to be “anti” Barisan Nasional and this “anti” feeling was clearly displayed in the Hulu Selangor by-election. This feeling may spread to the Sibu by-election and have some adverse implications against the SUPP candidate.

“This is the reason that makes the Sibu by-election not only interesting, but a very important one as it will determine the degree of support of the Chinese for the Barisan Nasional particularly SUPP,” said a veteran politician.

He said: “SUPP needs to know this so that it can plan its election preparations accordingly for the coming state election that may be called any time now so that it can recapture the eight seats it lost in the last election.”

But on the other hand, SUPP has the advantage of huge financial resources and the whole government machinery behind it.

The announcement last week in Sibu by Deputy Prime Minister of RM200 million is considered to be the first “down payment” to end the perennial flooding that has caused hardship and damage to properties.

Another RM2 million has also been allocated to five Chinese and mission schools after years of complaints.

More “goodies” from the Barisan Nasional are expected to be dished out in the days leading to the by-election. And with such “goodies” how can the BN lose in the Sibu by-election? Such “goodies” if they did miracle in the Hulu Selangor by-election, surely will do the same in Sibu.

From past experiences, Chinese are not easily attracted to such “goodies”. Such being the case, it is obvious, however, that SUPP cannot depend on Chinese votes alone. That will be disastrous. So the most important thing is for the party to go all out not only to maintain the votes coming from the Iban, Malay and Melanau communities, but to increase the votes manifold.

Needless to say, SUPP will have to work very hard, leaving no stone unturned to ensure its victory. Even though losing and winning the by-election does not change anything, SUPP, however, regards it as the most important barometer to gauge how much support SUPP has from the Chinese especially after they revolted against the party in the 2006 State election.

“We have to work very, very hard to win this by-election. The victory here is particularly very important for us and I believe Robert Lau Hui Yew, being young, can give us that victory badly needed to present a new image for the party in our election preparations,” said SUPP president George Chan at a recent press conference.

“I do not know what issues they (Opposition) can raise; to me, there are no more issues, but I do know that the Opposition is capable of manufacturing issues,”
said Chan.

“But this time around I am confident with the support of the federal government in terms of financial allocation the Chinese voters will come back to support us,” said Chan.

After all, he said, BN and SUPP through the late Lau have done so much to transform Sibu into a modern city.

On the other hand, DAP is all out to wrest the seat from SUPP. It had done it before in the 1982 parliamentary election and it almost captured it in the last parliamentary election, if it were not because of the postal votes.

“There is no reason why DAP cannot win this by-election. Nothing is impossible,” said the DAP adviser.

For the DAP, it has plenty of campaign issues to exploit: education, Chinese schools, floods, land issue, the alleged discriminative policies of the State government against the Chinese, and weak SUPP leadership.

The fact that none of SUPP’s elected representatives either MPs or assemblymen, dares to raise issues that concern the Chinese community is an issue.

It is seen that the Chinese community needs the Opposition to do the “barking” like complaining about the failure of SUPP to protect the interest and welfare of the ordinary men on the street, the hawkers and the small time traders and contractors.

Many of these small time hawkers, traders and businessmen have closed shops or have been declared bankrupt or moved away to other towns due to lack of development, employment and business opportunities in Sibu.

More over, DAP has been highlighting Taib’s policies that have made the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer, as the State resources – forests, timber and lands – have been squandered and plundered to benefit close family members and cronies.

SUPP being part of the government is being blamed for such a policy.

Other than the above issues, DAP together with its Pakatan partners must make some efforts to go to some 100 Iban longhouses in the constituency, where the Ibans not only have been neglected in terms of major development, but have also their native customary rights lands taken away from them.

Their lands at the Sibentek and Bukit Tanggie areas, once planted with rubber under the rubber planting schemes in 1970s are now under the names of big towkays. Their protests have been ignored.

While both sides have plenty of issues to talk about and explain to the voters, at the end of the day, the voters will make a decision.