KUCHING: Dayak leaders unnecessarily get agitated over articles written by missionary workers portraying Ibans of loose morals whose diet include leeches, ants and bee pupae.
According to an article written by Henry Ng which appeared in the Asian Beacon, the Ibans generally enjoy smoking and drinking, and they often get drunk during festive seasons or special occasions like wedding.
"They are also inclined to be immoral. I have seen men from another longhouse entering a different longhouse to look for women. After drinking tuak or rice wine, the inhabitations are lowered and sexual activities are common. Mothers are known to have offered their daughters for sex in the hope that the men will marry their daughters," he wrote.
While I do not agree with the observations that mothers are known to have offered their daughters for sex in the hope that the men will marry their daughters, it is certainly true to say that men from another longhouse entering a different longhouse looking for women. This is called NGAYAP. Although it is not practised in longhousses near towns and cities, it is still practised in longhouses in remote areas.
It is also true to say that Ibans eat leeches (lelitak, a family of the leeches, and temeloh, a type of leeches found in tree holes in the river), ants (red ants called kesa) sago worms (called tindoh, singkit or ulat mulong), eat snakes (ular sawa, paie, etc) and pupae (anak manyi).
Not only Ibans eat all these, other races also eat these delicacies. So there is nothig to be ashamed of. Writers like Ng and Christopher Chong may try to humiliate us, but we will not die. So no need for Dayak leaders to over-react.
Our leaders should be more concerned with bigger issues such as poverty, suppression and oppression of the Ibans in the civil service, scholarships, education, lack of business opportunities, and the robbing of their native customary rights lands by big companies.
Their land is their life. Take away their land, they will just be like fish without water. Soon Ibans from the rural areas are forced to abandon their lands. (Infact somehave been forced out, but they fight by brinking their cases to court.)
All the Dayak leaders should come together and make their stand as they did against the writers of the Asian Beacon who portray Ibans as eating leeches,worms and bee pupae.
Regretably, they are the ones who not only help the companies to land-grab the NCR land from the Ibans,but they themselves are directly robbing their fellow brothers of their land.