MAIDEN SPEECH OF
YB BARU BIAN N. 70 BA’KELALAN
DATO’ SRI SPEAKER
Terima kasih Tuan Speaker kerana member peluang untuk saya berdebat, member kesokongan dengan Usul berkenaan dengan Ucapan Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak pada 21.6.2011.
I record my sincere thanks to the voters of N70 Ba’Kelalan for giving the opportunity and privilege to represent them in this august house. I promise to do my best by the grace of God. I will not only speak up for and on behalf of the constituents of Ba’Kelalan but other Sarawakians as well that need their voices heard in this Dewan.
At this juncture allow me to begin my main maiden speech in this august House by recollecting the words of a historic leader of this land; prophetic words spoken in the forerunner of this very House ninety-six years ago. The second Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Brooke, in 1915, delivered his Farewell Address to the members of the Council Negri shortly before he retired.
Rajah Charles Brooke said, and I quote:
“I beg that you will listen to what I have to say, that you will recollect my words, and endeavour to call them to mind when I am no longer with you. I will make known of what is in my mind to my successor, but I can only be responsible during this my lifetime.
I have lived in this country now for sixty years, and for the greater part of that time as Rajah. I know that I feel as you do in every way regarding the present and future for the existence and welfare of the inhabitants. I think after so long a period you will allow me to open my mouth and give my opinion truthfully.
Has it ever occurred to you that after my time out here others may appear with soft and smiling countenances to deprive you of what is solemnly your right, and that is the very land on which you live?
This land is your inheritance (pusaka) on which your flesh and blood (daging darah) exists, the source of your income, the food even of your mouths.
If this is once lost to you, no amount of money could recover it. That is why the cultivation of your own land by yourselves or by those that live in the country is important to you now.
Cultivation by strangers, by those who might carry the value of their products out of the country to enrich their shareholders, such products should be realised by your own industries and for your own benefits.
Unless you follow this advice you will lose your birth right, which will be taken from you by strangers and speculators who will in their turn become masters and owners, whilst you yourselves, you people of the soil, will be thrown aside, and become nothing but coolies and outcasts of the island.”
DATO’ SRI SPEAKER
In the light of this prophetic warning of Charles Brooke, the question is, whether the so called developments carried out in our State like logging activities oil palm plantations and dam constructions and the industries within the SCORE area would largely benefit the peoples of Sarawak? Will they lose their birth right and be thrown aside, and become nothing but coolies and outcasts from their own land? The questions must be in the forefront of our mind when dealing with developments.
This is because inevitably developments affect one of the most important assets of any individual, land, especially Native Customary Land. Today we hear that 12 more dams are to be constructed in Sarawak notwithstanding that the Bakun dam alone could sufficiently supply power to the whole State of Sarawak. Therefore many are of the opinion that there is no basis or logic to have 12 more dams to be built throughout Sarawak.
I agree that developments in every sense of the word, must go on in the State, but it must never be at the expense of the poor, needy and weak amongst us. I urge and propose to the Government when such big projects like dams are proposed to be carried out, a proper EIA Reports must be made and the recommendations therein must be complied with and second, people whose lives are affected by such projects must not only be compensated and resettled elsewhere but must be given certain equity shares in the project for the life of the project for the benefit of the generations to come. This is because the generations to come have rights over such area affected as well. After the project is no more viable the land be rehabilitated and reverted back to the people. Batang Ai and Bakun should give us sufficient lessons to ensure that the Government of the day is not accused of bulldozing and disregarding the rights and future of the local populace affected by such projects.
DATO’ SRI SPEAKER
- Identity Problem on Bumiputra Status
The Natives of Sarawak are not only faced with the dilemma over their rights over their land but even their identities are at times denied. The status of many of our children is now in question. The issue I am referring to now is that of “native status” or “bumiputera status” for the offspring of mixed marriages (natives and non-natives), which is in a vague and ambiguous state in Sarawak.
In West Malaysia, there is an option to register children of mixed marriages as either bumiputera or non-bumiputera. It seems that our brothers and sisters in West Malaysia have it better than us here in East Malaysia. In Sarawak, according to the law, unless both your parents are native, you are not native or bumiputera. Yet it seems that in practice for some people, this is not so. If for administrative purposes children of mixed marriages in Sarawak are considered bumiputera, then it begs the question: why is it that in the Marina Udau’s Case, the girl that was initially denied entry tertiary education was not recognised as bumiputera? When children of mixed marriages are not recognised as bumiputera, they are denied the privileges that come with the status. It is not good enough to just have administrative orders or a cabinet decision as in Marina’s case to recognise children of mixed marriages as bumiputera and native. It is high time that the State Government clarify this issue once and for all for the benefit of all the off-springs of mixed marriages in Sarawak by amending the definition of “Natives” in the Federal and State Constitution and the Interpretation Ordinance to include any children of a mixed marriage. The practice that I am aware of now in Sarawak is that if the father is a native the children are deemed a native/bumiputra but not vice versa. But there is no law that I know off, that sanctions this practice. We can even take a leaf from Sabah where in such a case an additional Certificate from a Native Community Leader can be obtained in support of such a case.
In a similar vein, I would like to draw the attention of this august house to a peculiar but crucial matter. “Natives” of Sarawak is defined by Art 161A (7) of the Federal Constitution and surprisingly, the Berawans and the Sabans who live in the northern region of Sarawak are not classified in the list. Yet anthropologists and ethnologists will tell you that the Berawans are arguably the first ethnic group to migrate into the northern region of Sarawak many centuries ago. Dato Sri Speaker I urge the SAG to look into this matter and take immediate steps to amend the State and Federal Constitutions and other relevant laws to include the Berawans and Sabans in the list.
DATO’ SRI SPEAKER
- Prioritising Medical Services
Another issue I now raise is that of prioritising medical services in the State. Indeed it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to build hospitals and provide adequate medical facilities in the State. However, the State Government, I come to understand has a very important role to play in terms of providing the suitable land for the building of such Medical facilities as land is under the purview of the State’s Government. It is a public knowledge that Sarawak needs more hospitals and clinics built especially in the semi-rural and rural areas. Our Medical services and facilities are in a very poor and deplorable state yet we make it difficult for the Federal Government to build hospitals. The proposed construction of the new Lawas Hospital for example had been delayed because of issue on availability of land. From the information that I have, this is the case too for the proposed new hospital to be built in Petrajaya. While the State Government and the Federal Government play tug-of-war over land for these hospitals, the ordinary people suffer. Some may even die.
Dato Sri Speaker, I am informed and glad that the Flying Doctor services has resumed again after a lull due to a tussle in contract issue. This is important in the meantime even how infrequent it may be, to alleviate the medical services in the rural areas. I know coming from the rural environment, you’d be surprised a person can claimed to be healed just having been examined by a doctor with his statscope.
DATO’ SRI SPEAKER
- Educational Facilities in Rural Schools
Allow me to raise the issue of our children’s education. How much have we done to assist needy rural students who should be given special consideration? Granted, rural students may not be the best or attain top marks, but still they should be given special consideration in light of their poverty and their circumstances. I came from this environment, and when I was given the opportunity to further my studies in Melbourne, Australia, I went on my own in spite of the fact that I was from a poor family. I took a loan. I was not given any scholarship or assistant from the Government. Today many are in my situation that need Government’s assistants. I urge the Yayasan Sarawak to consider this issue immediately. Not to only support the top scorer but even the mediocre must be assisted taking into that some of us a late starter in life.
Secondly, I wish to bring the issue that facilities in the rural schools are either in bad shape or totally lacking. Given proper facilities, students from rural schools can perform just as good if not better as students in urban schools. I come to know about this truth from SRK Ba’ Kelalan’s performance after having been awarded and granted special grants by the Government, school facilities were upgraded resulting in excellent performance topping many urban schools in the Division.
I understand that education comes under the purview of the Federal Government but it is shameful if we such a rich State does not offer to assist to uplift the standard of facilities in the rural schools. I would think that this is the real kind of development we want for our children.
DATO’ SRI SPEAKER
- Native Land Commission
In view of the many problems raised and faced by many natives in Sarawak over their NCR lands which I don't need to elaborate, I propose to the Government to set up a Native Land Commission as in the Philippines, comprised of credible people from the public and private sector to ensure independence and neutrality giving powers to investigate, recognise their rights and issue titles. Thus will I believe assist the Government and natives in resolving this issue of NCR over lands.
- Religious Freedom
Finally, Dato’ Sri, I believe that Sarawak is one of the best States in Malaysia in terms of maintaining racial harmony and upholding religious rights and freedom. We owe it to the wisdom and the understanding of our forefathers and those after them who had been very sensitive and conscious of the fact that Sarawak is a land of many faiths and beliefs and that such right and freedom would be guaranteed when we formed Malaysia. To this day Sarawak retained her status as a secular State. However, the recent development on the banning of the importation of the Alkitab into Sarawak is very disturbing. More alarming is that a sacred book is deemed a material that threatens the security of the Federation under the provisions of the Internal Security Act (ISA). It is a sad incident for religious freedom and for pious believing Sarawakians. It portrays a Government which is intolerant and misguided on religious freedom. I am aware of course that such action was done by a Federal Department or Agency but the State Government must ensure that such action should not be repeated in the future by any agencies or individuals because the State should ensure that none of the terms under the Malaysia Agreement is breached. I applaud the stance taken by some of the BN leaders on this issue.
I conclude Dato Sri Seaker with a prayer for Sarawak the prayer of one of the prophets of old, called Amos who lived at that time under very challenging political environment, he said, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” Amos 5:24.
I urge all of us irrespective of our political belief and inclination to ensure justice and righteousness roll and flow like the mighty Rejang River from this Dewan to the whole State of Sarawak.
MAY GOD BLESS SARAWAK