One interesting article appearing in The Borneo Post today (4 May) is about the views expressed by the Resident of Sarikei Michael Dawi Alli on longhouses in the division that may not be named after their headmen.
Michael said: “His office has listed changing the longhouse naming system as one of its key focus activities (KFA) for this year’s Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
“A special meeting would be held for all longhouse chiefs in the division soon,” he said.
Michael mentioned the proposal during the meeting between community leaders and Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum in Pakan on Saturday.
He explained that the idea was mooted because of administrative problems caused by the naming of longhouses after their respective Tuai Rumah.
The most common problem was that longhouse names needed to be changed whenever a new longhouse chief was appointed.
“This is where and when such problems surface. This can happen many times to a longhouse and when there is no effort made to update the records with the authorities concerned, many problems crop up.
“The postal service provider will face problems in delivering mails or parcels as the names of the longhouses do not exist in their records.
“Similarly, the various agencies face problems in tracing residents after they change their longhouse names,” he said.
The Resident’s office has suggested longhouse be named after geographical features such as river, place or mountain, he said as these names would remain even if all the residents moved out.
This is a very good suggestion by the Resident of Sarikei Division, a suggestion other divisions should adopt.
The only longhouses in Kota Samarahan, Kuching and some in Sri Aman divisions where they are named after trees, rivers, mountains and even animals. They are called Kampung Gayau, Kampung Isu, Kampung Sematong (a type of jambu), Kampung Sibau, Kampung Nangka, Kampung Sungai Pinang, Kampung Jagu, Kampung Tekura, and so on.
But in other divisions like Betong, Sibu, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang, the longhouses are named after their headmen.
Their biggest problem is that they need to change their identity cards with the change in the names of their longhouses. When they register themselves as voters, they need to update their ICs now and then following the change in their longhouse chiefs.
The problem now has been made worse when the government appoints longhouse chiefs and replaces them once a while.
The longhouse people no longer elect their own headmen.
Michael’s suggestion is really food for thought.