Tuesday, June 28

Maiden Speech YB Baru Bian




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.”


  • Developments

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


Sunday, June 26

Debate Speech by Ali Biju

Debate Speech by Ali Biju, ADUN N34 (Krian), on Motion To Appreciate the Speech by the TYT Governor

Datuk Sri Speaker Sir,

I rise to join my honourable colleagues in this august House to participate in the debate in respect of the Motion to appreciate our TYT’s address.

Whilst TYT’s speech encompasses numerous issues, touching on the socio-economy of Sarawak, I shall raise some issues pertinent to my constituency N34 Krian in particular and Sarawak in general.

Datuk Sri Speaker, Sarawak’s rural population has been in acute poverty since independence. The World Bank confirmed late last year that Sarawak has achieved the dubious distinction of being one of the poorest states in Malaysia. The Director General of the Economic Unit Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Mahbob disclosed that the poorest people in Malaysia are indigenous communities living in Sarawak and Sabah and that a high level of income disparity contributes to a high level of poverty since a smaller share of income is obtained by those at the bottom of the income distribution. According to the IMF and the World Bank, the causes of inequality are: (i) improper government policies and (ii) exploitation by government agencies and businesses with power and influence.

Land Development Policies - Plantation

At Krian Ulu, many landowners have participated in SALCRA (Sarawak Land Consolidated and Rehabilitation Authority) schemes to develop their land for the last 15 years with high hopes of getting benefits in terms of dividends. SALCRA has land coverage of 48,721 ha of oil palm estate. Early this year SALCRA, through the Minister of Agriculture, announced the amount of dividends in the sum of RM74, 260,000.00 to be distributed to participants for 2011. Landowners were very happy and excited to hear this good news since it means on average, each participant could receive about RM1,500.00 per ha. However, the participants at Krian Ulu received almost nothing. So, I strongly demand that SALCRA, in particular, the Minister in charge, explain to the affected landowners the reasons they got almost nothing.

If during this period of high commodity price of palm oil, SALCRA is still not making profit, may I suggest that SALCRA revert and return the cultivated land back to landowners immediately and not wait for the agreed period of 25 years? I believe many of the participants are in better positions to manage their own land profitably.

Some SALCRA land areas are not even planted yet with oil palm. I have also received the Statement of Account for the Year Ended Dec. 31, 2009 of SALCRA which states that the net profits for “authority” and “group” are RM12, 775,332 and RM22, 475,081 respectively. So, when the Minister cum Chairman announced dividends of RM74 million, I wonder where the profit has come from. The Minister should furnish us with the Statement of Account Ended Dec. 31, 2010 to explain this disparity.

Another agency that is involved in land development is PELITA which is under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister. PELITA has been cultivating land under “New Concept” in many areas of Sarawak such as Kanowit, Meruan, Dijih and Mukah. PELITA also has about 9,000 ha of provisional lease of NCR land in Kabo-Awik-Budu area. In reference to this type of development and poor testimonials of PELITA, the majority of landowners in my constituency particularly in Kabo-Awik-Budu areas do not want to participate in this so called New Concept JV land development.

Any proposed agreement to develop land through this New Concept between PELITA and community leaders like Tuai Rumah, Penghulu or Pemanca is legally null and void because community leaders are in neither legal nor traditional positions to represent anybody with regard to private land ownership. As such, there must be no coercion or intimidation or pressure at all on those who refuse to participate. The names of native landowners who refuse to participate in Kabo-Awik-Budu scheme will be submitted to PELITA soon.

Instead of participating in large scale “New Concept”, mono-crop land development, the landowners prefer to develop their own land through agencies of their choice like RISDA, smallholdings under RME-Rubber Mini Estate or Palm Oil Mini Estate concepts. Smaller scale land development is more environmentally friendly since not all areas are cultivated. It is also sustainable in the sense that it guarantees that our future generations will have land to live on.

The IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) Rural Poverty Report 2011 highlights changes in agricultural markets that are providing new opportunities for smallholders to increase productivity. The report emphasizes “there remains an urgent need to invest more and better in agriculture and rural areas” based on a new approach to smallholder agriculture that is both market oriented and sustainable. The report makes it clear that it is time to look at poor smallholders in a completely new way as people whose innovation, dynamism and hard work will bring prosperity to their community. The report also states that low levels of investment in agriculture, weak infrastructure, low production and lack of financial services make it hard for smallholders to participate in the agricultural market.

It is to my dismay that the State Government closed an office of the Agricultural Department at Ng Budu.

I also believe that the Farmers Organization is sliding backward and not of any assistance to the farmers anymore.

It is of paramount importance that the authorities concerned should deploy more resources and relieve the situation through technical measures such as:

(a) Introducing the new concept of agro-enterprise;

(b) Promoting agricultural development on mini-estates or smallholdings for crops like rubber and oil palm with infrastructure assistance from the government; and

(c) Providing more allocation for agencies such as RISDA and MPOB.

Landowners want to control and manage their own land in their own style. If they cultivate a few hectares of rubber trees or oil palm with proper guidance or assistance from the government, which many of them are capable of, they should be able to get quite a decent income of RM2, 000/month. If they can make RM2, 000/month, a lot of rural people who are working at various parts of Malaysia such as Johor and KL will be willing to go back to their longhouses to cultivate their lands. In this way, we will be able to reverse the rural-urban migration which has created many socio-economic problems in the city and rural community as well. Currently, general labourers in oil palm plantations are paid a daily wage of RM17-RM20, amounting to around RM450/month, which is far below the poverty line RM750/month.

According to Robert Pringle’s authoritative book “Rajah and Rebels” written and published in the 1970s, more than 2 million rubber trees were officially planted in Krian area during a brief period of colonial time which covered areas totalling more than 5,000 hectares. Total cultivated areas including unrecorded areas were probably double that figure, being close to 10,000 hectares. A lot of rural communities participated actively and rubber was the major contributor of cash income. Some of them, by their own initiative, even managed to cultivate bigger areas to become mini-estates of sorts and employing many rubber tappers from outside. This was possible due to assistance and advice given to planters by the government of the day.

Sadly, more than 2 generations later, the livelihood of these members of the rural community still depends very much on these rubber trees that were planted by our late grandparents. So far, the government has cultivated approximately 3,500 hectares of rubber trees in the last 15 years in the Krian area. Considering the population growth during the last two generations, this quantity is not sufficient. If you visit longhouses in Krian constituency and ask them where their income comes from, do not be surprised if they say 70%-80% of longhouse dwellers depend on rubber from their grandparents’ trees to survive.

Provisional Licences for Plantation

The state government has issued provisional leases within Krian constituency which overlaps with NCR land:

(i) Lot 410 Blk 18 Krian Awik LD to Kenyalang Resources Sdn Bhd (now known as THP Saribas Sdn Bhd) in the area of Bajau-Selambong-Sedan-Jenggara

(ii) Lot 3 Blk 16 Krian Awik LD to Kenyalang Resourses Sdn Bhd (now known as THP Saribas Sdn Bhd) in the area of Sg Gruyu

(iii) Lot 155 & 156 Kalaka LD to Kenyalang Resources Sdn Bhd (now known as THP Saribas Sdn Bhd) in the area of Jln Pusa Sessang

(iv) Licence for planted forest to No. LPF/0034 to R.H. Forest Corporation Sdn Bhd.

The companies that have been given PL have encroached illegally into NCR lands of the native communities. This has resulted in disputes over rights to land and resources. Currently, there a a few cases where natives have initiated legal action against PL holders and Land Survey Department.


Tuan Speaker,

The government has issued many logging licences within NCR lands in my constituency. This has created a lot of animosity among rural community since most of them disagree with logging activity. Logging has destroyed our Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau which provide the natives with valuable construction materials to build longhouses, boats and other wooden amenities vital to our way of living.

It is very unfortunate that the state government has issued timber licences in my constituency without the prior informed consent of the native landowners. Listed are the known timber licences issued by the state government in Krian area without prior consent of native landowners.

(a) T/3436 – issued to Vita Hill Sdn Bhd which overlaps NCR land in the area of Dassey, Budu

(b) T/3463 – issued to Pelita Holding Sdn Bhd which overlaps NCR land in the area of Kabo-Awik

(c) T/8475 – issued to Syarikat Kayu Rimba which overlaps NCR land in the area of Mapar-Babang

(d) T/3431 – issued to Tunggal Enterprise which overlaps NCR land in the area of Mudong

(e) T/3497 – issued to Solid Sunshine which overlaps NCR land in the area of Awik-Seblak.

(f) Timber licence also issued to Sebetan area.

All of these licences were issued without prior consent of native landowners. As such, the State Government must withdraw the licenses.

For example, Rh Gayan of Dassey, Budu, in my constituency has been affected by Vita Hill Sdn Bhd’s logging activity. Various complaints had been made to the authorities. However, no action was taken. Left without an avenue for redress, the Rh Gayan community took the matter to High Court and legal process is still ongoing.

The State Government has issued timber Licence No. T/8440 to a RM2 company namely Budimar Sdn Bhd. Its subcontractor is Rimba Jaya Lumber Sdn Bhd at the vicinity of Bukit Pengajar. The company is in the process of constructing a logging road from the Ulu Krian road towards the concession area through lands of the Iban community particularly in the Sg Pilai area. If the company proceeds with this plan, besides doing damage to environment, biodiversity and ecosystem, logging trucks will totally destroy the roads of Ulu Krian and Rimbas roads, which are already in poor condition.

Infrastructure, Amenities and Utilities

Tuan Speaker,

Basic requirements such as road, water and electricity are basic human rights. Any government of the day must provide these necessities to all its people regardless of their political affiliations.

Road : The road system in the Krian constituency is in a very bad shape particularly roads to Ulu Krian, Kabo, Budu, Awik, Bajau, Engkudu, Ibus and Babang. Ulu Krian Road and Awik Road were Federal roads constructed more than 30 years ago but their condition is similar to that of logging roads. I urge the government to ensure tar-seal to be implemented immediately as promised by the PM during the last state election.

Electricity : The majority of my constituents do not have electricity. Only recently we noticed that power posts have been erected along roads in Krian, Budu, Kabo, and Awik. I urge the government to speed up the work to get power supply to every longhouse, school and clinic in my constituency.

Water : Clean water is also a major issue in my constituency as many longhouses are still getting drinking water from rivers or unreliable gravity water. The water is not hygienic and contains germs and bacteria that can cause diseases. I urge the government to carry out the construction of a new dam at Kaki Wong to start immediately as promised by the PM during the last state election. On top of that, the current water supply from Lichok Water Treatment Plant is not capable of providing the water needs for all people in Saratok areas. During the dry season Lichok WTP runs out of water. What is the state government doing about this?

In conclusion, Datuk Sri Speaker, I urge this august House to seriously look into the matters I have raised. These issues are not mere political rhetoric. These are bread and butter issues affecting the peoples of Sarawak and it is the ultimate responsibility of this House to take these matters seriously and it is incumbent upon the respective Ministers in charge to act accordingly to alleviate the suffering of the rakyat. Demi Rakyat.

Thank you Datuk Sri Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to air my views.

Saturday, June 25

Ho Leng accuses Jabu of telling lies

KUCHING: DAP chairman and Opposition leader Wong Ho Leng today (23 June) slammed Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang for continuing to tell lies in the state assembly and (Land Development minister) James Masing’s big bin meant for the DAP rubbish should be used to fill the rubbish and lies uttered by Jabu.

Jabu has repeatedly accused DAP of suppressing and oppressing the opportunities of the natives in native customary right land development.

“We have denied and denied it for more than 10 times, but he repeated the same lies,” Wong said to reporters.

“Saying a hundred lies repeatedly will eventually become truth. I think that he is trying to do that by repeatedly telling lies in the state assembly.

“I told him on the spot today that he is a liar. I am sure you heard it and he has no audacity to rebut it,” he said.

Jabu said that in 1996 DAP members went to a stage in Kanowit and opposed NCR land development.

Wong said that DAP had not got a branch in Kanowit at that time and what Jabu claimed is a complete garbage.

“So Masing’s big bin should be used to fill garbage and lies uttered by Jabu. The bin is very fitting,” the Bukit Assek assemblyman added.

Asked to comment on Jabu’s outbursts today, Wong said that he feels sorry for Sarawakians if he is to be the transition chief minister in two years’ time when Abdul Taib Mahmud steps down.

“During the transition period, it will not be Adenan Satem, but it will be Jabu. And the way he yelled at the opposition members today, and if that is how Jabu carries himself, then I feel sorry for Sarawakians.

“You cannot as deputy chief minister yells at opposition members as you are not permitted by your own decorum and protocol, integrity and dignity of your office. You cannot also repeatedly accuse DAP as oppressing and suppressing the opportunities of the natives in NCR land development.” Wong said.

The opposition leader said that the statistics released by him today showed more than 60% or 70% of the hardcore poverty comes from the rural areas where there are Bidayuhs, Ibans and Malays and Melanau.

“Although he enjoys high office as deputy chief minister of Sarawak for more than 30 years, yet he has totally failed to look after the interests of the rural folks.

“He blamed me for his inability to look into and take care of the interest of the Dayak communities and the fact remains that we the DAP have never suppressed or oppressed the opportunities of Dayaks in terms of the NCR land development.

“We are actually in favour of NCR land development to make the people especially the natives rich, but the development must be meaningful.

“You cannot do something that is wrong in the name and guise of development and therefore deprive them of the opportunity. Not me and not us in the DAP,” he added.

Jabu was seen very angry and very emotional when he tried to answer two questions asked by Violet Yong, the member for Pending during question and answer session.

The questions were: To ask the chief minister on poverty eradication programme to: (a) explain the status of poverty and hardcore poverty in Sarawak. Please provide detail by reference to racial composition in the state, and (b) state the measures to curb hardcore poverty in the state and the manner in which the state government has been assisting them.

Most of his answers went out of tangent.

Monday, June 20

A sad story of Iban primary students

According to The Borneo Post story today (19 June), primary school students from four longhouses in Sungai Pak about a 45 minute drive from Sibu go to school before dawn, walking through narrow jungle paths to reach their school before day break.

Accompanied by their elders, mostly their parents and grandparents, and armed with torch lights, they climb rugged terrains in their thick undergrowth and walk on poles across streams to reach SK Nanga Pak.

Each day the children wake up at 4.00 am to prepare themselves, and in half an hour they are off on the rugged paths with school bags on their backs, even in heavy downpour.

Dudong assemblyman Yap Hoi Liang, who has been visiting them for three years, has been making appeals in newspapers on their behalf.

Now that he has been elected their representative, he told the Sunday Post that he would be marching into the state assembly with their pleas.

He said he wanted the plight of these children heard, and he wanted immediate action taken to improve the infrastructure for the longhouse folk.

These children, who number more than 20, are from four longhouses built closely together in Sungai Pak – Rumah Shandom Ajang, Rumah Janang, Rumah Sebastian Igom and Rumah Iweng.

A primary three boy, who only identified himself as Austin from Rumah Shandom Ajang, said his grandfather walked him to school but after school the children would gather themselves and walk back by themselves.

“I am used to it already,” he said but added that it was troublesome when it rained.

“We have to walk through mud when it is wet, and worse the path at the foot of the hills is always flooded, and we have to wade through the water, even at 4.30 am.

It is cold,” he said.

Austin said that they also encountered wild animals such as snakes and wild boars

Parents of these children are grateful that the school allows their children to stay in the teachers’ quarters when floods pose danger to the children.

Yap said that there used to be a gravel road through the jungle to the school, but it was never maintained.

“It became a jungle path again. I am disappointed with the neglect of these people,” he said, pointing out that these people had also lacked ‘water and electricity supplies’.

“They drink from the murky water in the drains beside the road,” the DAP elected representative said.

Questions need answers

(1) What happens to the slogan ‘1Malaysia People first Performance now’ as espoused by the Prime Minister?

(2) What has the BN elected representative been doing all this while?

(3) What are the authorities doing about it?

(4) What are our Dayak leaders doing about it?

(5) Don’t you think that it is a good idea that we elected Opposition members to highlight our problems when BN leaders are trying to sweep such problems under the carpet?

This sad story to me is a tip of the iceberg, and there are many more such stories that need to be exposed for the betterment of our rural community.

Thursday, June 16

Dayaks support DAP’s Dayak Brain Trust

KUCHING: The Sarawak DAP’s proposal to set up ‘Dayak Brain Trust’ (DBT) has received strong support from the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), a very powerful and influential Iban organisation that has members throughout the state.

SADIA president Sidi Munan said that the set up of DBT is a “good idea”.

“Why not, if it acts as a think tank for the party which wishes to learn more about Dayaks’ cultural, social, economic and political needs.

“At least there is an organisation which makes an attempt to learn more about Dayaks’ problems and needs and is willing to help the community.

“There is nothing wrong in supporting such an idea,” Munan said.

Commenting on the same issue, the chairman of Sarawak Dayak Graduate Association (SDGA) Dr. Dusit Jaul agreed with Lim that “the whole idea is to create economic, social, cultural and political awakening”.

“In the context of national politics, DAP has every right to initiate this move, and whether it is going to have any impact only time will tell,” Dusit said.

The proposal to set up DBT was announced by the DAP national leader Lim Kit Siang who said that the “Dayak Brain Trust” which acts as an advisory body will recruit 10 Dayak professionals to advise them on serving the rural community.

Lim said: “We are already sourcing for the 10 outstanding personalities to set up the Dayak Brain Trust.

“They would be professionals to advise the opposition including giving their views on ways to lead the folks towards economic, social, cultural and political awakening,” he said, adding that the party had approached a lawyer, a doctor, a businessman and those from specialised fields.

Monday, June 13

DAP to set up Dayak Brain Trust

As reported in The Borneo Post (12 June), Sarawak DAP will set up an independent advisory body called “Dayak Brain Trust” by recruiting 10 Dayak professionals to advise them on serving the rural community.

This has come as the opposition party prepares to penetrate into the Sarawak heartland in the coming general election.

The opposition has reason to be eager on the penetration.

The party’s national leader Lim Kit Siang said the people of East Malaysia had saved the Barisan Nasional from collapsing in the last general election.

Speaking at their workshop, he said the prime minister had regarded East Malaysians as BN’s fixed deposit.

Lim said that they are already sourcing for the 10 outstanding personalities to set up the Dayak Brain Trust.

He said they would be professional to advise the opposition including giving their views on ways to lead the folks towards economic, social, cultural and political awakening.

Among the professionals, the party has approached a lawyer, a doctor, a businessman and those from specialised fields.

The idea was born in a discussion over a dinner on Friday.

“These Dayak professionals were receptive and welcomed the idea,” Lim said and he left to Sarawak DAP to work on the idea. And hoped the body would be formed within this month.

Although the body would comprise members from the Dayak community, the Malay and Melanau communities would not be neglected, said Wong Ho Leng, chairman of Sarawak DAP.

Saturday, June 11

Gawai visit to Bali

It was a very memorable visit to Bali for eight of us – me and my wife and my two sisters and their families.

We left Kuching early on 1 June 2011 for the Kuching International Airport for Kuala Lumpur where we caught another Air Asia flight to Bali.

We arrived in Bali at about 7.00 pm and after the tedious Immigration, customs and security checks we finally met our tour guide, Gusti Ketut Artha and his driver.

We immediately left for dinner at an open space near the sea.

We stayed at the Aston Denpasar Hotel.


Day One, 2 June 2011:

Batubulan: This is where we witnessed a Barong play which presents an internal fight between good and evil spirits. A barong is a mythological animal which represents good spirit and Rangda, a mythological monster, represents an evil one. An hour was spent watching this play.

Tohpati: Where witnessed batik painting and hand weaving. Some of us purchased some products.

Celuk: This is where silverware and gold are being produced. We bought some silver bangles, earrings and rings.

Goa gajah: This is the 11th century of elephant cave temple.

Temen village: We went to Bali Coffee garden, where the best coffee in the world is being brewed. Called Kopi Luak, the coffee seeds were collected from ‘tai munsang’ (fox dung) and processed.

Kintamani: This is where our lunch was served while seeing active volcano and Lake Batur. The last explosion was 11 years ago. Around this area where we found gardens of cabbages, strawberry and other fruits only grown in cool climate. It is very much similar to Bario highlands in Sarawak.

Sebatu: The spring water temple. This spring water has some powers that can cure various illnesses including those who are barren.

GWK (Geruda Wisnu Kencana): This will be the highest statue in the world which will be three times taller than the statue of liberty, when completed. It began its construction in 1997. Even though it is only 20% completed, it has already one of the star tourist attractions. Situated on an area of 145 hectares, the width is about 65 metres while its height will be 170 metres when completed. In and around this area will be shopping malls.

Some 4,000 tons of brass and copper are required to build it. Considered to be the icon of Bali when completed, the statue of Wisnu, who is considered the god of gods will be placed on top of geruda, a divine vehicle.


Day Two, 3 June 2011:

Taman Ayun: This is the royal family temple of Mengui surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Ulun Danau: This is another mountain top danau (lake) which is 900metres above sea level. It occupies an area of 600 acres. Water sports are being organised in this resort.

Tanah lot: This is a holy temple in the sea. This is the best place where tourists by the thousands are watching the Bali sunset. On the way to this Tanah lot from Ulun Danau, we came across four cremation ceremonies.

According to our guide, who is a Hindu, the dead body is burnt and the ashes are thrown into the sea so that the ashes are expected to be brought to the holy Ganges River. The Ganges is always known as a religious icon in the world.

The cremation is an expensive ritual involving the whole people of a kampong. For those who are rich, the cremation is ready between a few days only. But for those who are poor, cremation may be performed 10 years after the death of the person.


Day Three, 4 June 2011:

This day was given to us to roam the city of Denpasar, the capital of Bali and where we did some shopping.


Day Four, 5 June 2011:

We checked out from the hotel and went to Kuta where the most beautiful beaches are found. There were thousands of tourists, 90 percent of them were Europeans, Americans and Australians. This was the place where terrorists bombed two hotels killing more than 200 Australians.

We were supposed to be accommodated at the Aston Kuta hotel, but changed to Aston Denpasar for fear of terrorists attack soon after the death of Osama bin Laden.

From Kuta we left for the Airport on the way to Kuching via Kula Lumpur.

Comments: When we arrived in Bali we felt proud of being ‘millionaires’ as each one of us carried several millions rupiah. At least we knew we were millionaires even for four days.

On a serious note, Bali depends on tourism as its survival fully exploiting on ancient temples each of which has its own unique tales and history as well as its cultural values.

What Bali is doing in the preservation of its ancient buildings, temples and palaces is the opposite of what Sarawak has done: demolished buildings constructed by the Brooke regime or any other colonial links.

It has also developed its eco-tourism turning even its paddy fields, coffee growing, active volcano mountains into one of the most enterprising businesses. Our tourism efforts (Sarawak) are paled in comparison.

Our tourism ministers should adopt Bali’s approach to tourism. Our politicians are NATO (no action talks only).

Bali is strongly recommended for adventurous tourists.