Wednesday, June 30


By Joseph Tawie

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

KUCHING - After eight years in the political doldrums, Sarawak National Party has been given a new lease of life after the Court of Appeal on 23 June 2010 set aside the decision of the Registrar of Societies to deregister the party.

But what is SNAP’s future like? Will the Dayaks return to the party? Is SNAP that was the pride of the Dayaks in the 1970s when it had 18 State assemblymen and nine MPs, able to recapture its past glory? Or will it be able to capitalize on the sentiments of the Dayaks against the Barisan Nasional government and the authorities? And what are SNAP’s directions?

These are some of the questions that many Dayaks and non-Dayaks are asking and demanding to know.

Many believe SNAP can attain its past glory, but to do that it must be led by someone who has the charismatic personality – the bold and the fearless.

“Change of leadership must be made, if it is going to play a major role in both State and national politics. During these eight years, SNAP was left with a skeleton of members as many had left due to the uncertainty of its fate with the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over its head,” said a former SNAP leader.

Its performances in those years in two parliamentary elections and one state election against the Barisan Nasional were not only dismal, but to the point of being embarrassed, considering the fact that at one time it was the party to be reckoned with.

On 10 April 1961, SNAP that became the third party to be formed after Sarawak United People’s Party and Party Negara Sarawak opened the way for the Dayaks to play active politics just before Sarawak obtaining its independence 1963. Synonymous with Dayak politics, it produced Sarawak’s first Chief Minister in the person of Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

However, SNAP’s fortunes began to decline after the 1982 leadership crisis during which James Wong took over the leadership at the expense of the support of the Dayaks who formed between 80 percent and 90 percent of the party membership. That crisis led to the formation of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak in 1983.

But the 2002 crisis, another leadership crisis, between Wong and a group of Dayaks led by Peter Tinggom dealt a fatal blow to the party when the Registrar of Societies decided to deregister it on 5 November 2002 ignoring the appeals from both sides.

Basically, the crisis was triggered with the expulsion of the MP for Bintulu Tiong King Sing over an issue involving the construction of a TV3 station in Bintulu.

The party accused Tiong of failing to honour his word of donating RM1.5 million to finance part of the project which was RM4 million. Both the Federal Government and TV3 agreed to come up with RM1 million and RM1.5 million respectively.

Tiong who was then treasurer general of the party denied that he had promised to come up with the money.

However, SNAP found Tiong guilty as charged under Article V, Clause (iii) and (vi) of the party constitution.

“Article V – Expulsion of members
(iii) Destroys or attempts to destroy the integrity and good name of the party; or and

(vi) Incites hatred and animosity amongst members or against any Party leaders.”

The case against Tiong was heard on 11 April 2002 at the party headquarters. All the Central Working Committee members attended the meeting.

Before the expulsion order was mentioned, nine members of the CWC led by Tinggom staged a walk-out in protest against the decision. They found that Tiong’s expulsion was flawed when two of the seven appointed CWC members took part in the decision.

The appointment of the two had not been lodged with the Registrar of Societies, although the party constitution to increase the appointed members from five to seven was amended and endorsed in 2000 TGM.

Thus all decisions including expelling Tiong made by the CWC with votes from the seven appointed members were invalid, null and void.

William Mawan, then the Minister of the Environment and Public Health, and obviously the leader of the group brought up the matter with the ROS. The protracted crisis led to the party’s deregistration and the formation of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party. But SNAP applied for stay of execution pending its appeal to the Court of Appeal.

That exactly is the story.

Since that crisis and the demise of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak in October 2004 also due to leadership crisis, had left Dayaks who were not with Barisan Nasional in political limbo.

Now that the Court of Appeal has made its decision in SNAP’s favour, many Dayaks both outside and within the Barisan Nasional are closely watching SNAP’s next move.
The first thing they are interested to know is when SNAP will be holding its TGM and the election of new office-bearers in the next two or three months.

Can they bring in new professionals and the thousands of ex-PBDS members to join the party?

To them this is vital if the party wants to be respected and to be reckoned with. They feel that SNAP should try especially to woo the ex-PBDS members who are still angry with the BN government and authorities for deregistering PBDS and for refusing to register Malaysian Dayak Congress as a political party to replace PBDS.

“We are closely watching SNAP’s next move,” said Daniel Tajem, a former senior vice-president before he was kicked out from the party in 1983.

Many prefer SNAP to remain in the Pakatan Rakyat as it can form the “Dayak arm” of the coalition. At the moment the Dayak interests are being covered by the multi-racial PKR whereas the Chinese and the Malay interests are being looked after by DAP and PAS respectively.

But a BN leader who refuses to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter believes that if SNAP is to remain in PR it may live to regret its decision.
To him, returning to BN should be an ideal and strategic move. Firstly, it can claim back all the seats now under the hands of SPDP. After all, SPDP is the “pretender”. So SPDP can be advised to dissolve and return to SNAP. After all SPDP is the off-spring of SNAP. From here, it can slowly and surely gain its past glory.

To his knowledge SNAP has never been expelled from the BN nor has it left the BN. This has been confirmed by SNAP Secretary General Stanley Jugol.

The BN leader says that once in BN, SNAP (including the dissolved SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak can discuss the merger of the two parties. Currently the merger between PRS and SPDP goes nowhere as there are obstacles that both parties are unable to solve.

“This is the bigger picture that SNAP must think in the interest of the future of Dayaks in this country,” he said.

But the question is: is SPDP prepared to dissolve itself for the bigger interest of the Dayak community? And the other big problem is that whether the Barisan Nasional component parties are ready to accept SNAP back.

Chief Minister and Chairman of State BN Abdul Taib Mahmud has made it very clear that only a collective decision by the BN parties can determine whether SNAP can return to the coalition.

“A lot of waters have gone under the bridge. I have to discuss it with other parties,” he said.

No doubt there are people including Dayaks themselves who do not wish Dayaks to be united under one political umbrella as this will pose a threat to their positions. In fact they prefer the current political scenario whereby the Dayaks are split right, left and centre: some are in SNAP, PKR, PRS, SPDP, PBB and even SUPP.

This results in Dayaks having weak and ineffective voice in articulating the community’s hopes and aspirations. And yet the Barisan Nasional parties consider the Dayaks as their “fixed deposits” in the coming election as they the urban voters are no longer reliable.

Given a new lease of life and the possible injection of new blood including professionals into the party, can SNAP be able to convince the Dayaks in the rural areas to support its political struggle and to reduce the BN’s “fixed deposits”?

This is its biggest test.

Monday, June 28

Just wondering …..

The presence of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his Deputy Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang at the join the Gawai-Kaamatan celebration on 26 June 2010 organised by Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching surprised many an observer.

Since DCCI was formed in April 2002 at a seminar by the Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association, Taib and Jabu did not like the idea. No reason was given. Perhaps the idea did not come from them. Or perhaps they were not consulted.

Those from PBB who were involved were not only pressured to resign, but were also asked and sponsored to form another Dayak chamber of commerce. And for those who did not “obey the order” were made to suffer in terms of business, etc. One such person is Datuk Amar Linggi Jugah. Another person who was then the president of Sarawak Dayak graduates Association, Pro. Dr. Dimbab Ngidang was fouled on the slightest “mistake”.

Any way, the idea of forming a chamber of commerce for the Dayak community that was mooted at the seminar in Kuala Lumpur organised by Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association and INDEP (Sabah). It was organised under the sponsorship of Bernard Dumpok and Leo Moggie, both Federal Ministers. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad officially launched the seminar.

Taib and Jabu were invited to attend. Initially they refused to attend. But upon learning that the Prime Minister Mahathir was to officially launch the seminar, both Taib and Jabu made an unannounced arrival at the seminar. I was there and saw the organisers in a “kelam-kabut” situation and they had to pull chairs from somewhere for them to sit on.

From thereon, the relationship between SDGA which was then headed by Professor Dr. Dimbab Ngidang and DCCI headed by Datuk Amar Linggi with the State Government worsened.

Fortunately, SDGA and DCCI have a good relationship with the Federal Government even during the time when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister. And during those days the two organisations were under constant “attack” by the State leaders especially by Jabu. Whatever functions they organised especially the joint gawai-kaamatan celebrations and seminars not only they did not receive any support from the State government, but their leaders were criticised and condemned.

But this, 2010 (after eight years of “mouse-cat” relationships), Taib and Jabu became the “toast” of the DCCI seminar organisers.

No doubt it is good that they (DCCI and the government) are in good terms. And they should be congratulated for this. Forgive and Forget.

We know both DCCI and the State government need one another. For DCCI, there is the 10MP to think about and the business opportunities for its members. To Taib and Jabu, there is the coming State election also to think about. Being Dayak-based, DCCI can help the State BN to influence the Dayak voters in the rural areas to vote the BN candidates.

The rural constituencies, about 29 Dayak majority out of 71, will certainly become the BN’s “fixed deposits” in the coming election. The urban “fixed deposits” are slowly depleting. The results of the 2006 state election and the Sibu by-election are examples of this depletion. The BN component parties especially SUPP are damned worried about this trend.

I believe that “you scratch my back, I will scratch yours” is what was happening at the function. Don’t you see it? – The Broken Shield


Sunday, June 20

COMMENT: 10MP offers nothing to the rural people

By Joseph Tawie

(This article was first published in the Malaysian Mirror and it is updated and published for the readers of the Broken Shield)

KUCHING: Glancing through the reports, there is nothing spectacular about the 10MP. As they say: “It is an old wine in a new bottle.” In other words, the same stuff from the previous plans.

For Sarawak, three particular areas of development are specially mentioned which are likely to involve the rural people: the proposal to build a total of 2,819 km of roads; to supply 87,400 additional houses with treated water and 76,000 more houses with electricity.

On top of this, there are also plans to address the poverty of Sarawak bumiputras through integrated development programmes and specific enhancement assistance.

The objectives of the 10MP are not dissimilar with those of the 1MP and other eight Malaysian Plans, that is, supply electricity, water supply and to address poverty in the rural area.

More than 46 years ago today, between 70 and 80 percent of the longhouse dwellers are still suffering from lack of treated water and 24-hour supply of electricity and more than 50 percent of them are still in the vicious circle of hardcore poor.

So what make you think that the 10MP is any difference from the nine previous Plans?

Baru Bian, chairman of Parti Keadilan Rakyat Sarawak nicely sums up the whole Plan: “Nothing for the rural Sarawakians to be proud of. We are taken for granted notwithstanding our wealth that has been taken away, stolen or sold off.”

As every one knows that Sarawak having oil and gas, timber resources and lands, is the richest State in Malaysia, and yet her people especially the rural people are among the poorest in the country. So has happened to our resources?

Squandered, stolen or sold off?

So if that is the situation where can Sarawak get her money for development?

Obviously the people of Sarawak are worried. Firstly, because the federal government may not have the funds to finance all the projects spelt out in the 10MP due to its heavy debts. The corruption and misappropriation of funds through scandals like Bank Bumiputra, PKFZ, Perjawa steel, purchase of submarines, jet fighters, and so on an so on are still fresh in the minds of the people.

Secondly, even if there is some money given to Sarawak under the 10MP, the people are also worried of funds for government projects going “leaked”. According to MACC reports, about 60 percent of government funds for the various projects in the past have been found to be “leaked”.

Peter Minos, former president of Dayak Bidayuh National Association, expresses the fear of leakages and improper use of the funds at the implementation stage, unless the Prime Minister gets in people who are honest and clean to help him.

And thirdly, the rural people in other Divisions are worried about the diversion of funds from other areas to SCORE areas situated between the coastal areas of Bintulu and Tanjung Manis.

Who dares to say anything if Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud wants the fund to be diverted?

A colossal amount of money, perhaps in the region of more than RM100 billion are expected to ignite the development of projects in SCORE. These include the building of roads, bridges, other infrastructural facilities and lands and crops compensations.

Other SCORE projects include two aluminum smelting plants to be built in Bintulu at a cost of RM18 billion. And the third one, as Taib Mahmud recently proposed, may need at least another RM10 billion to build.

But what about the proposed 12 dams that the Taib Mahmud’s government wants to build?

Here again the construction of these dams plus infrastructure, and perhaps land compensations, can easily cost more than RM100 billion. This is not to mention the hardships and the displacement of thousands of natives and submerge of thousands of hectares of land, and the flora and fauna that will disappear as the result of the creation of man-made lakes.

Adding to these mega projects, there are also an international airport to be built in Mukah to cater for bigger aircrafts, an administrative centre in Mukah and coal-powered station. These three projects are worth well over RM2 billion.

Is it necessary to extend this airport, when it is only a stone’s away from Sibu Airport, Bintulu Airport and Miri Airport?

Spending hundreds of billions of ringgit on SCORE is going to deprive other areas, especially the rural areas from being developed.

As I see it, of all the people, the Dayaks will suffer, and the lack of development will push them over the edge into the abyss of poverty. Already their problems are being aggravated by the fact that they have lost their NCR lands to companies, where they used to plant padi, cash crops and fruit trees.

All the rubber trees, fruit trees and cash crops that have been planted have been destroyed resulting in them losing their daily incomes.

Without their lands, the Ibans are just like fish without water.

As they have no lands in which they can plant padi, fruit trees and cash crops, many have started to migrate to towns and cities. But their lack of skills for works in the urban centres may complicate further their problems. It will be of no surprise, if there appears in their midst social problems – prostitution, smoking, drinking, robbery, drugs and drug-related problems.

They are just jumping from the frying pans direct to the fires.

Even if they do not migrate to towns and cities the Ibans will still suffer not only due to lack of land to farm, but also due to river pollution that will affect their drinking water, their sources of protein and their dependence on jungle produce such as ferns and bamboo shoots.

Whether they like it or not, they are forced to become labourers in their own land and are being paid between RM8.00 and RM15.00 a day.

Nor can they ever hope of getting dividends from a joint-venture undertaking with companies as they (the companies) use the funds to further expand the acreage of the plantation. Many in Kanowit, for example, have complained that they have not received even a cent from such companies, even though the companies have been in operation for more than 10 years. So what hope is there to have a better life from these companies?

It is the opinions of many Dayak leaders that if the government is really serious in helping the rural people then the government should not take away their land by force. As it is stated earlier, land is their life.

Instead the government should have come up with plans under the 10MP how to develop their land. Perhaps the government could have adopted the way the government assisted farmers in the rubber planting schemes A or B in 1970s.

Through these schemes, the farmers are encouraged to plant oil palm in a block of three acres per person with seedlings provided and fertilizers subsidized. Agriculture officers should be sent to check on the development of the farms and to ensure proper upkeep of the gardens.

When the palm reaches maturity, the fruits are collected and placed on a roadside; some authorized buyers will fetch the fruits and pay them on the spot. Through these smallholdings, they can earn as much as RM1,500 a day. Proofs of this can be seen today.

Since there is nothing in the 10MP, perhaps in the midst term review the government should consider some sort of concrete actions to help the rural people.

Left to their own devices, the Dayak poverty can escalate into an insurmountable problem, and it is indeed a time bomb in our society. It needs a spark to trigger it.

Thursday, June 17

What is an NCR land?

Many people including Ibans themselves do not know what an NCR land is. It is pertinent to publish an affidavit by Nicholas Bawin, an expert on NCR land and his affidavit has been accepted by the courts of the country including the Apex Court. Because of this affidavit, many of the NCR land claims have been decided in favour of the NCR land owners.

Therefore it is important for all of us to know what constitutes NCR land and what our rights are.


The Iban customs and traditions (adat) have been created or prescribed for the pursuance of societal survival and continuity.

“Custom” is defined as tradition, observance, convention, manner, etiquette, ritual, habit, practice, rite, ceremony, wont and rule. “Tradition” refers to custom, institution, convention, ritual, way of life and habit. Tradition includes oral tradition which encompasses the full range of meaning by which Ibans construct social memory, which includes Iban narratives, myths, legends, verbal songs, magic, rituals, ritual speeches, poetry, epic, laws, dances, traditional music, genealogies, stories of old, sacred places, poems of lamentations, boundary marking and augury. It concerns the way Ibans collectively remember their past and make it relevant to the present.

ADAT is, therefore a way of life, basic values, culture, accepted code of conduct, manners and conventions. These broad definitions include aspects of law, moral, religion, custom, habit, etiquette, agriculture and fashion that must be adhered to in order that the Iban could live harmoniously and obtain the favour of the gods.

In Sarawak, only some of the customs and traditions of the Ibans have been codified in the ADAT IBAN 1993. As such, the ADAT IBAN 1993 is not exhaustive of the Iban Adat. The legislative definition of ‘native customary law’ treats customs, traditions and adat as synonymous.


Traditionally, the Ibans of Sarawak were swidden cultivators whose economy, based on hill rice, depended upon the availability of large tracts of primary forest for maximum padi harvest, forest produce and game. The critical basic prerequisite for Iban society is to have sufficient land and virgin forests available. This is to ensure ample food supply, forest produce such as paku (ferns) and umbut (shoots), fish from streams or rivers, games (jelu), materials for constructing and maintaining the longhouse and resources for domestic use.

In the past, when pioneering families of Ibans opened a virgin forest in an area for farming, they would perform an important ritual known as ‘panggul menua’. It was only after the ceremony was performed that the first cutting of virgin forest for farming can commence. From then onward, the individual families can establish individual rights to the cleared area including forest adjacent to or around the cleared area as their ‘pulau’ area or ‘pala umai’ or ‘pala temuda’ or ‘pala kebun’.

‘Pemakai menua’ encompasses an area of land or territory held by a distinct longhouse or village community and includes farms, gardens, fruit groves, cemetery, rivers and virgin forest within a defined boundary (antara or garis menua). ‘Pemakai menua’ also includes ‘jeramie’, ‘temuda’ (cultivated land that has been left to fallow), ‘tembawai’ (old longhouse sites), and ‘pulai, pala, kebun, pala umai, and payong temuda’ (virgin forests that have been left uncultivated to provide the community with forest resources for domestic use such as timbers for building and maintaining the longhouse or for coffins for the dead).

Where several pioneering villages or longhouses occupied an area of land, boundaries (antara or garis menua or benoa) were agreed and drawn between the villages or longhouses. These boundaries followed streams, watersheds, ridges, hills, mountains and other permanent landmarks.

Only members of a village or longhouse can farm or use the land and collect forest produce or hunt and fish within the ‘antara/garis menua’ of the village or longhouse.

Traditionally, disputes between the longhouse of village communities over their land boundaries (antara or garis menua) are referred to and resolved by the Village Chiefs or elders. After the establishment of the Native Courts, such disputes are now referred to and resolved in the Native Courts such as in the case of TR Gawan v Penghulu Manggoi Supreme Court, Kuching Civil Appeal No. A/18/54 and Galau anak Kumbong & 3 Ors v Penghulu Imang & 30 Ors in Native Court of Appeal Sibu No.3/66.

The Brooke Administration in Sarawak also encouraged, recognised and accepted the ‘adat’ of the natives (including the Ibans) of having ‘antara/garis menua’ between the longhouses or villages. This can be seen in the Secretariat Circular No. 12 of 1939 issued in 1939. This ‘adat’ of having ‘antara/garis menua’ is till being practised, accepted and observed by the natives (including the Ibans all over Sarawak) until today.

In the Baram District which includes the Sungai or Batang Bakong where the Plaintiffs and their ancestors are from, the official records of the ‘antara or garis menua or benoa’ of the natives and Iban longhouses there are complied in the Register of Land Boundary kept at the District Office, Marudi, Baram. A copy of the same Register of Land Boundary is kept in the Sarawak Museum and in the office of the Majlis Adat Istiadat. I have personally made and kept a photocopy of the said Register.

The Iban ‘adat’ and the ‘adat’ of other natives of Sarawak do not require members of the longhouse or village to apply for permit to clear, farm, use or occupy land within the ‘antara/garis menua’ of the longhouse or village.

Central to this concept of territorial right (pemakai menua) is the Iban values of management, conservation and sustainable use of resources. This includes the customs of swidden farming practices, fallow system, cleansing of the environment (pelasi menua) and the creation of ‘pulau” or forest reserve(s) within the ‘antara/garis menua’ of the longhouse or village.


By Tradition, the Ibans would provide offerings to the spirits, each time they make a farm. Rituals and offerings are made for several reasons they consider important: first, as a way of seeking permission from the spirits/mother nature to use the land; second, to atone for the destruction of plants and other living creatures in the process of cultivating the land; third, to avert evil spirits, and to chase away pests that might disturb the crops; and fourth, to bless the land, to ensure its fertility.

‘Tanah umai’ includes all lands that are cultivated as farms, gardens, ‘temuda’ (land left to fallow), and fruit groves. As a general rule, the household within the community that first felled the forest secured individual rights over specific pieces of land. These rights are heritable, passing ideally from one generation to generation of household members. It is on specific plots of lands that households make their rice farms or cash crop gardens. Individual plots are also marked by natural boundaries (antara umai) such as streams, watersheds, ridges and permanent landmarks.

‘Tanah umai’ or farmland can be both a private and common property, depending on whether rights of access to such resources rest on individuals or the community. The question, who should farm on a communally owned land and when, is a matter of communal consensus, although every family is given equal rights of access to such land. A community may evoke free access only to certain types of natural resources such as wild vegetables, shoots etc., for personal use. At the same time, it reserves the right to restrict access to resources which have economic values such as rattan, timber, fruit trees, of which benefits deriving from such resources are to be shared by the entire community.

Rights of ownership of farmland can be transferred to another person, for example a sibling, a cousin or a relative. It can also be lost if the person moves to another village outside the ‘antara or garis menua’ through marriage or migration (pindah).

The ‘adat’ on ‘pindah’ is quite clear on depriving one’s rights to customary land. For instance, section 73 of the Adat Iban 1993 stipulates that whoever without the permission of the Tuai Rumah or Penghulu or District Officer moves from one longhouse to another shall be deprived of all rights to untitled land or any customary land that has not been planted with crops and all such land revert to or be owned in common by the people of the longhouse.

There is no ‘adat’ on sale of customary right land. If a person ‘pindah’ from the longhouse, rights to his customary land will either go to the community or he can transfer such rights to a cousin or a relative who will in turn provide him with ‘tungkus asi’.

‘Tungkus asi” refers to the token provided by the recipient to the person who on account of his moving from the longhouse to another transfers rights of his customary land to the recipient.


The Iban community practises forest-fallow system. When the fertility of a farmland declines, Iban farmers would leave the farmland to fallow, so that it would regain its soil fertility. The farmers would shift to different plots of land for farming and only return to cultivate the first plot of farmland many years later, either with similar or different crop.

There are four main categories of forest-fallow, namely:
(i) ‘jerami’ which is a bush-fallow land between 1-2 years after padi crop has been harvested;
(ii) ‘temuda’ which is a land that has been left to fallow for a period of between 3-10 years.
(iii) ‘damun’ which is secondary jungle where the fallow period of between 20-30 years.
(iv) ‘pengerang’ which is a temuda which has been left uncultivated for more than 20 years.

Rights to cultivate a ‘temuda’ rest on the person who first felled the virgin forest.


Within the ‘pemakai menua’ are old longhouse sites known as ‘tembawai’.

‘Tembawai’ land can either be a communally or individually owned land. An old longhouse site is identified through the various fruit trees planted by its former occupants. It also serves as a community fruit-tree reserve area.

If a former longhouse is built on individual land, the ownership of the ‘tembawai’ land is reverted to the landowner, but rights of access to the fruit trees and planted rattan and palms remains with the planter and his descendents.

On the other hand, if the former longhouse is built on a communal land, then the rights of access to fruit trees, rattan etc in the ‘tembawai’ rest with the descendents of the individual who planted the trees, but the rights to the land are held by the community.

Therefore, an old longhouse site serves not only as an evidence of rights of a particular community over it, but also of particular individuals over certain fruit trees within the ‘tembawai’ area.


‘Pulau’ is deep-rooted in Iban Adat or customs and practices. The Ibans traditionally set aside ‘pulau’ as reserve for the collection of timber for building purposes, belian posts for pepper growing, for fences of livestock and animal rearing, rattan for basket and mat weaving and other jungle products. In the past, these forests reserves were especially important to war leaders as a source for construction of war boats required for war expeditions. These are different types of ‘pulau’.

‘Pulau galau’ includes an area of forest whether wholly or partially surrounded by ‘temuda’ or customary right land purposely reserved by an individual or community through generations and left uncleared, unfarmed or uncultivated as a source of resources for domestic needs of the community.

Specifically, ‘pulau galau’ provides the longhouse community with essential items such as timber for house construction, making coffin for the dead and for building boats, jungles, rattan and other jungle produce. Where ‘pulau galau’ is large, it can become a hunting ground for the community. It is also an important water catchment.

‘Pulau galau’ can be owned communally by one longhouse or more longhouses. It can also be owned individually or by groups of core families, especially pioneers or early groups of families who first opened an area for settlement.

Where ‘pulau galau’ is owned communally, rights to it reside with the longhouse that owns it. People from other outside of the longhouse are not permitted to extract timber or climb fruit trees where exclusive rights to these resources rest with the longhouse that owns the ‘pulau’. Rights to the ‘pulau’ pass down to the descendants of the longhouse as long as they remain in the village or maintain their attachment to it by participating or contributing to the activities of the longhouse.

Where ‘pulau’ is owned by a particular family, rights to it reside with the family members. Other members of the longhouse may collect wild vegetables and uncultivated foodstuffs or cut bamboo, cane and creepers in the ‘pulau’, but not to extract timber or climb fruit trees where the exclusive rights to the resources rest with the family that owns it.

An area is created into ‘pulau’ if it is found to be rich in ‘kayu ban’ (timber), ‘teras’ or ‘belian’ (ironwood), ‘engkerebai’, fruits of which are used to produce textile dye, engkabang and other oil-yielding trees, ‘tekalong’, bark of which is used to make corsages and carrying straps, ‘tapang’ which provides a place for bees to produce honey and other resources such as rattan, fruit trees, palms, etc. It is created into ‘pulau’ to provide the members of the longhouse or village with essential resources for domestic needs.

An area which may not be productive for farming can also be created into a ‘pulau galau’. Such an area is usually made up of rugged terrain, and may contain useful timbers and other resources. Normally such an area is a useful water catchment.

‘Pulau galau’ is also known among the Ibans in the Kota Samarahan, Sibu, Kapit, Mukah and Miri Divisions and other Iban areas of Sarawak as ‘pulau papan or 'pulau ban’ or ‘pulau kerapa’ or ‘pulau sentubong’ depending on its purposes and uses.

‘Pulau buah’ is a fruit grove which contains different types of trees growing wild or planted. Most ‘pulau buah’ are individually owned. Where ‘pulau buah’ is communally owned, individual may claim rights over a large variety of fruit trees such as ‘durians, kembayau, engkeranji, petai, embawang, lensat’ etc. Where a fruit tree is planted by an individual in a communal ‘pulau buah’, rights to it reside on the individual and members of his family.

Some ‘pulau’ are sacred. Such ‘pulau’ are called ‘pulau mali’. ‘Pulau mali’ are either sites of old cemeteries or sites where shamans (manang) get their initiations or sites where people, especially the sick seek solace and healing. Once a forest reserve has been declared ‘pulau mali’, it cannot be cleared for farming for a specific period of time.


Every family manages its own farm as an independent concern.

The first stage of farming is to clear the undergrowth. The second stage of the farming season is the cutting down of big trees (nebang). When ‘nebang’ is over, the farm site is left to dry for a month or so. During this period, the farmer would usually go out fishing and hunting. This would provide them with enough food for the next stages of farming. Also at this time, the farmers may put up their temporary small hut (langkau) where the family would stay or rest during the farming season. Meanwhile, the elder in the longhouse would observe the position of certain stars at about 3 o’clock in the morning and the various phases of the moon, to determine when to start the planting (nugal). When the elders have agreed on the appropriate time for planting the farmers would select the time for burning (nunu). After burning, the farmers would appease the Gods for the creatures that may have been killed in the burning.

When the ground (tegalan) is ready for planting, the farmers would plant the grains. When ‘nugal’ is over, the women folks would wed the fields (mantun) while the menfolk would go out fishing and hunting for food supply and gather forest products for consumption.

When harvest (ngetau) time comes, the farmers would make offerings (piring) for the deities and go to the sacred spot where the first padi grain or plant was sown. When all the rituals spanning three days are over, the farmers would harvest the grains and carry the harvest back to the longhouse for threshing (ngindik/nungko) and winnowing (nampi/ngebau). If the harvest is abundant, the longhouse community would hold ‘gawai ngambi sembeli pulai’.

During all or any of the above stages of cultivation (i.e. felling, sowing, weeding and harvesting), different families may form cooperative work groups on a labour-exchange basis. This very unique form of cooperation in the Iban community is called ‘beduruk’.

The families in the cooperative work groups would work together to cultivate their farms. They would work together from one farm to another.

Essentially, ‘beduruk’ is done on a rotational basis. It is also a system of strict reciprocity. The cycle is complete when all the farms of the families of the cooperative work groups have been worked upon. Through ‘beduruk’ the natives or Ibans have been able to clear large tracts of lands for their farms.

Note: Nicholas Bawin Ak Anggat was a former Deputy Head of Majlis Adat Istiadat (Customary Laws Council). During his tenure of office from 12 August 1992 to 28 February 2005, he had traveled widely throughout the State collecting information, documents and records to be included in the Iban Adat.

Having been born and brought up in his longhouse, he has obtained his adat Iban through personal experience and observation as well as though learning, reading, researching and studying of the adat Iban.

He has testified on the adat Iban in Suit No: 22-28-99-1 Nor Anak Nyawai & Ors V Borneo Pulp Plantation Sdn Bhd & Ors, and in Suit No. 22-93-2001-111(1) Agi Anak Bungkung & 2 Ors V Ladang Sawit Bintulu Sdn Bhd & 4 Ors in which the Court accepted his evidence and in many other native customary rights land cases in the High Courts in Sarawak. – The Broken Shield.


Friday, June 11

Who have “Broken Ideas”?

Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang on 22 May during the blessing ceremony of new Salcra building in Kota Samarahan dismissed bloggers who constantly criticise him as having “broken ideas”.

He said he had no time to quarrel with bloggers who wrote negative stories about him, particularly his involvement in Salcra.

“Some say that I have been overstayed my welcome at Salcra, but they are the ones who have broken ideas,” said the Salcra chairman, describing the bloggers as armchair critics who knew nothing about oil palm schemes.

“If they can achieve even 10% of Salcra’s performace, I will salute them,” he said.

He also expressed disappointment with a group of bloggers who attended a Salcra briefing on its oil palm schemes.

On the appointed date, they brought outsiders who were not part of their group but were busybodies from non-governmental organisations.

Jabu also slammed Democratic Action Party (DAP) for trying to stop native customary rights (NCR) land owners from participating in government eradication programmes.

This resulted in the loss of opportunity for them to earn higher income and improve their livelihood.

“This very negative attitude of DAP has slowed down the pace of development and transformation and caused the NCR land owners to remain poor,” he said.

The question is: who are actually have “broken ideas” the bloggers or Jabu?

To me Jabu has “broken ideas” because what he says are those he had said several times before. He continues to repeat them for umpteenth times. He has no more ideas; his ideas are out-dated or to use his own words “broken ideas”. He should be replaced by younger people like James Masing, Douglas Uggah and William Mawan.

I remember reading his challenge that if anyone could achieve 10% of Salcra performance, he would resign as Salcra chairman. On this Henry Joseph of Terepong Dunya Aki Andan blog challenged Jabu to a debate. Jabu made no response.

Actually Salcra production of palm oil is far below par as compared with it other plantations. Even yearly dividends given out to Salcra participants are paled in comparison with the daily earnings of smallholders from RM500 to RM1,500. It means monthly the earnings are RM5,000 to RM15,000.

On the question of bloggers attending a Salcra briefing, Jabu was simply lying as there was no invitation for bloggers to attend the briefing. It was Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) which wished to have a briefing with them, but Salcra cancelled the briefing when three other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were present.

Jabu’s mention of DAP trying to stop the natives from participating in joint ventures has also been said several times in the past even in the Council Negeri.

Of course Jabu’s accusation is not true. I am not trying to defend DAP. What DAP was trying to tell the public was that Jabu and his cronies have some interests in oil palm plantations.

Let us see who owns the following:

(1). Durafarm Sdn Bhd, Suite 502, Tingkat 5, Crown Towers, Kuching has three areas: Lot 17 Block 5 Bijat Land District, Simanggang – 26.625 ha; Lot 21 Block 12 Bijat Land District – 1248 ha; Lot 9 Block 3 Skrang Land District – 307.2 ha.

Total approved 1581.825 ha for 60 years on 4 December 2000. Contact person is Robert Lawson Chuat, YB for Bukit Saban, a nephew of Jabu.

(2). Durafam at the same address has five areas: Lot 30 Block 12, Paku Land District, Betong – 110.6 ha; Lot 1 Block 15 Paku Land District, Betong – 936 ha; Lot 219 Block 7 Batu Api Land District, Betong – 969 ha; Lot 36 Block 12 Batu Api Land District, Betong – 437 ha; and Lot 38 Block 12 Batu Api Land District, Betong – 219.5 ha.

Total approved 2672.1 ha for 60 years on 1 March 2005. Contact person is Robert Lawson Chuat, YB for Bukit Saban.

(3). Ever Herald Sdn Bhd, Suite 6.12 (1st Floor) Kueh Hock Kui Commercial Centre, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, Kuching has three areas: Lot 8 Block 23 Sablor Land District, Btg. Layar/Btg. Lupar – 250 ha; Lot 1 Block 24 Sablor Land District, Btg. Layar/Btg. Lupar – 770 ha; and Lot 3 Block 25 Sablor Land District, Btg. Layar/Btg. Lupar – 1853 ha.

Total approved 2873 ha for 60 years on 9 August 2004. Contact person is Henry Jantum, a close associate of Jabu.

(4). Ever Herald Sdn Bhd has three areas: Lot 180 Block 1 Bijat Land District, Simanggang – 134 ha; Lot 4 Block 2 Bijat Land District – 1930 ha; and Lot 160 Block 3 Bijat Land – 63 ha.

Total approved 2127 ha on 2 July 2004. Contact person is Henry Jantum, a close associate of Jabu.

(5). Utahol Sdn Bhd, Crown Towers, 5th Floor 88 Jalan Pending, Kuching has three areas: Lot 3682 Panduran Land District, Ulu Medamit, Limbang – 3,610.00 ha; Lot 1 Long Napir Land District, Ulu Medamit, Limbang – 2090.00 ha; and Lot 5 Long Napir Land District, Ulu Medamit, Limbang – 1,200 ha.

Total approved 6900 ha on 23 May 2000. Contact person is Gerald Rentap anak Alfred Jabu.

If you want more details as to who are the owners/directors, you need to go to Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM).

On Jabu’s admission that he overstayed his welcome as chairman of Salcra Board of directors, it is simply because he has personal interests in Salcra.

Who has some contracts like the supply of fertilizers and the transportation of oil palm fruits?

Being Land Development Minister James Masing should be the chairman of Salcra board of directors as Salcra is under his charge. Jabu simply refuses to give in. Both went to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud about it. It appears that Taib still wants Jabu to continue to be the chairman of Salcra.

On this subject of Salcra, I have heard rumours that funds of Salcra participants may be used to finance the Betong Regatta next month. I hope it is not true. However, scheme participants should keep an eye. If the funds are misused and abused, get some details and lodge a report with MACC and the Police. – The Broken Shield

Good read:

Tuesday, June 8

Street fighters verses Gangsters and corruptors!

The defeat of the Sarawak United People’s Party at the recently concluded Sibu by-election is too much for the party leaders to accept so much so that they behave like a cry-baby.

And the loss is the more bitter when the party was defeated at its home ground, which it has controlled and “ruled” non-stop for the past 20 years and at the same time it dashed the hope of the so-called visionary team to transform Sibu into a modern city equipped with the first class infrastructure.

And one of the members of the team was Robert Lau Hoi Chew whose death on 9 April sparked of the by-election on 16 May.

In the by-election, SUPP-BN candidate Robert Lau Hui Yew was defeated by DAP-Pakatan candidate Richard Wong Ho Leng by a slim majority of 398 votes.

Hui Yew obtained 18,447 votes as against Ho Leng’s 18,845. In the 2008 parliamentary election Ho Leng was defeated by Hui Chew’s cousin, Robert Lau Hoi Chew by 3235 vote majority.

In reality Ho Leng’s majority should be 3633 votes (3235+398).

SUPP leaders were deeply disappointed with the defeat and they could not take it so much so that they behave like a cry-baby blaming the defeat on the West Malaysian style of politics being introduced into the by-election.

But what SUPP really fear is that the tsunamic effect of the loss may create political waves that may wipe out the seats that the party is holding now such as Pelawan, Bawang Assan (both under the Sibu parliamentary constituency), Dudong, Repok, Batu Kawah, Pujut, Senadin and Piasau (all these Chinese majority seats) and mixed seats like Simanggang, Opar and Bengoh.

It has already lost eight seats including seven Chinese majority seats to the Opposition in the 2006 State election.

And the fear of SUPP becoming a mosquito party is staring them at their face. And the fear is clearly mentioned by its president George Chan when he cautioned that the unexpected loss should serve as a “warning” to all BN component parties to live up to the people’s expectation or risk losing their support.

“Would this reflect on the things to come in the next election? I don’t know. If we look at it from a different angle, what happened in Sibu is definitely a good lesson to SUPP,” he said to reporters.

But in comforting and consoling SUPP, State Barisan Nasional leaders tell its leaders not to worry too much, after all the defeat is a small loss.

“After all, it is a small loss and it will not affect the State election,” said Asfia Awang Nasar, Speaker of State Legislative Assembly.

State Barisan Chairman Taib Mahmud told SUPP that its defeat in Sibu would not reflect the overall support of the majority of the people towards the Barisan Nasional.

James Masing, President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak, agreed that the loss was a small defeat and would not have impact to the BN in the coming state election, because it did not reflect the true support of the people for the Barisan Nasional.

Asking SUPP not to worry too much, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party President William Mawan Ikom said that the BN would win back the seat in the next general election.

“With the government’s commitment in taking care of the people, we should be able to get back the people’s trust and win back Sibu in the coming general election,” he said.

State BN secretary general Stephen Rundi blamed the defeat on the West Malaysian style of politics being introduced into the State,

“We don’t want this trend to come to Sarawak. And I advise those West Malaysian parties not to instigate this issue (religion) because in Sarawak we believe that Chinese, Ibans, Malays and Melanaus can eat and sit together in the same restaurant,” he said.

Now the question being asked is whether Robert Lau Hui Yew was the right candidate for the by-election knowing he is coming from a very wealthy family. Although SUPP and BN leaders kept quiet about his background during the campaign period, his background became an issue in the by-election.

Many regarded the by-election as the fight between the poor, the neglect and the down-trodden pitted against the rich and the famous.

“You know who his father is?” asked Baru Bian, chairman of PKR Sarawak.

Hui Yew’s father is Lau Swee Nguong, the chairman of KTS group of companies which are involved in timber and timber-related businesses, huge oil palm plantations, in printing and in newspaper business owning The Borneo Post, Utusan Borneo and See Hua Daily News.

“I know his father, because I have two court cases brought against Lau Swee Nguong for allegedly taking away native customary rights land from the Ibans,” said Baru, the NCR land lawyer.

The two cases will be heard very soon, he added.

As we see it, the Sibu by-election was a fight between what Abang Johari said the politics of “street fighters” or a "Taiwanese style" of campaigning of the Opposition as against BN’s gangster’s style of intimidation and corruption.

For example, at Robert Lingga’s longhouse, a group of Barisan Youths came to the longhouse and started shouting and beating empty tins trying to cause disturbances and noises while Opposition leaders were addressing the longhouse folks. The Opposition leaders kept their cool. It was understood they were paid RM300 to cause the disturbances by one MP (cannot name him because he likes to sue people). He walked like a gangster from one end of the longhouse to the other and asked Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem: “Who are you?”

Tajem replied: “I am Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem.” Imagine someone like him who does not know Tajem if not for his sheer arrogance?

The other gangster’s politics practised by BN was the firing of firecrackers that lasted for 20 minutes in Sibu town itself in the evening of 14 May, drowning the voice of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while he addressed a crowd of 10,000 people. The BN was unhappy when they in the same evening addressed about 500 people. The firing of the firecrackers made thousands of people angry, and because of this, they perhaps voted for the Opposition.

Of course the BN used of money to buy votes, the promise of financial allocations to various projects. If these are not corruption and bribery, what is it then? – The Broken Shield


Friday, June 4

Gawai Dayak has added meaning to Simunjan people

The 2010 Gawai Dayak has an added meaning to the longhouse people along the Simunjan Road because they are able to have contacts with the outside world after the installation of an ICT tower in the Kpg. Ruan area, all because of the efforts of YB Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture.

Many overseas workers who were unable to return for the Gawai Dayak were able to contact their parents and relatives. For instance, my son, Rudy Tawie, who is studying for his PhD (civil engineering) in South Korea, was able to contact our Kpg. Sungai Semabang, Simunjan to convey his Gawai greetings to us.

It was indeed a very happy moment and a very special meaning to us to be able to speak to my son and his family. We would like to express our sincere thanks to YB Datuk Salang.

We were also able to use our internet connections through Celcom broadband and followed what was happening around the country especially on the minor cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Najib.

However, the services need to be upgraded as the lines sometimes “putus”.

While I conveyed our Gawai Dayak greetings to YB Datuk Salang, I also informed him of our problems. He promised to speak to the local authorities to improve the ICT services in the Simunjan area.

Meanwhile, Gawai Dayak was celebrated modestly by the people of our village. It was an occasion to meet our relatives and friends.

The Gawai began with the drinking of “ai Pengayu” (long life water) at the stroke of midnight on 31 May. This was followed by various cultural events till the early morning of the 1 June.

At 10.00 am, all the people of Sungai Semabang gathered at the ruai of Tuai Rumah Sipi Anak Narang where the festival continued with cultural performances, drinking and eating.

Later in the afternoon, all they came to our humble house where delicious foods such as pansoh manok, panggang manok, pansoh jani, and so on were served to the pengabang (visitors).


Jetty's family members after the drinking of "ai Pengayu". They have to open their shirts in order to get rid of 'bad luck' and welcome the new Gawai spirit.

Mr. Juah performing the "ngajat"