KUCHING: The 28-year old Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), one of the most effective non-governmental organisations, is facing deregistration following complaints by the Registrar of Societies for contravening the provisions of the Societies Act 1966.
In his show caused letter dated 23 August 2011, the registrar alleged SADIA of being involved in the Batang Ai by-election in 2008.
He also alleged that SADIA has contravened the Article VI clause 1 of the Societies Act and Regulations for not holding its triennial delegates conference. Its last meeting was held in 2006.
It has also failed to elect new office-bearers which should be held in 2009 as well as failing to submit its annual returns for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
SADIA has been given until September 23 to reply to the show-caused letter.
SADIA President Sidi Munan told SADIA members that he had replied to the show-caused letter, and the association is still awaiting the outcome of the ROS’ decision.
Judging by the tone of the show-caused letter which was signed by Deputy Registrar of Societies Malaysia, Haji Fison bin Haji Yahaya, there is the likelihood that SADIA is in real danger of being deregistered.
ROS Kuching Ken Leben was not available for comment.
The authorities have been targeting the association for the past five years after it was actively involved in defending the rights of natives and the indigenous people especially when the native customary rights (NCR) lands were encroached upon by oil palm plantation and timber companies.
Almost all of these companies have connections one way or another with the powers that be in the state.
The authorities are also fearful of SADIA as it is an accredited member of Economic and Social Council of United Nations (ECOSOC), and a member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia or Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia (JAOS), an umbrella of 21 community-based non-governmental organisations that have the indigenous peoples’ issues as the focus.
It is also a member of Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), an organisation of indigenous peoples’ movement in Asia.
SADIA Secretary General Nicholas Mujah said that SADIA headquarters has been raided twice in the past two years, the latest was in June this year by officials from the Home Affairs Ministry, who have taken substantial amount of documents including court exhibits and affidavits.
Until now, SADIA staff members including Mujah have not been charged in court.
SADIA was registered in 1984 with the aim to promote the usage and the advancement of Iban Language, and its efforts which were supported by Iban officers in the Education Department resulted in Iban language being studied in Primary and secondary schools. Moves to study Iban in tertiary education are underway.
Its other objectives are to protect the Iban Adat, traditions and customs.
Lately it has been in the forefront in the protection of the native customary rights (NCR) land resulting in a number of its members being jailed for defending the NCR land.
And because of evidence given by SADIA officials, the majority of NCR land cases have been ruled in favour of the natives.
Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulu and even Malays have sought the advice and assistance from SADIA, which acts as their paralegal before the filing of any NCR claims against the government.
“I believe that SADIA’s involvement in defending the rights of the natives as far as NCR land is concerned is one of the real reasons why ROS is asked to cancel its registration.
“I believe that complaints come from some of the Iban leaders who are pro-BN,” said a senior member of SADIA who requested anonymity.