The 100,000-strong Dayak union has justified its decision to elect SPDP president William Mawan as its new president.
KUCHING: Fed up with Senior Minister James Masing’s disinterest in their affairs, the 100,000- strong members of Sarawak Dayak National Union recently rejected his presidency and elected instead his arch political rival William Mawan.
According to the union’s deputy president John Anthony Brian, Masing, who is also State Land Development Minister, had never responded to the union’s invitation to be its patron of its functions nor has he contributed to SDNU’s coffers.
“We often invited him, but he failed to respond to our invitation to be a patron of a Gawai Dayak function, not to mention donating funds to SDNU.
“He just refused to respond to the union’s functions. So how could the union members want him to be their president?” asked Brian, adding that members themselves were clueless as to what Masing was thinking.
Brian was responding to Masing’s statement that a full-time politician should not be elected as SDNU president.
This, however, did not stop members from voting in Mawan, who is Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president.
Mawan was elected unopposed as president of the 66-year-old union, which is one of the most influential Dayak NGOs in the state. Kapit MP, Alexander Nanta Linggi, was elected deputy president.
Masing, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, is rumoured to be miffed by the turn of events. But the union feels that Mawan’s election is justified.
‘Interfering wife of a leader’
Mawan is not only committed to the cause of the Dayaks, but has never failed to attend its functions, Brian said, adding that he even donated some funds to the union.
“We had a discussion among our members and decided to approach Mawan to be our president, and he accepted our invitation.
“We have willingly accepted a new leader to take over the union, especially someone like Mawan. We believe Mawan can help solve some of the problems like restarting the stalled the Rumah Dayak project as well as some other projects which the union has proposed to build on its own land.
“Our projects had also been cancelled even after agreements were signed just because a wife of a senior Dayak minister had complained to the State Planning Authority not to entertain our proposals,” Brian said.
Although he did not name the person, it was learnt that the “wife” is Empiang Jabu. Empiang is the wife of Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang. She is also the president of Sarawak Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS).
On why SDNU had not approached Jabu to helm the union, Brian said that Jabu had always been critical of the union since the time it was headed by Daniel Tajem, former president of the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak in the early 1980s.
“Jabu is not the right person. He has been criticising nearly all Dayak non-governmental organisations.
“So instead of uniting the Dayaks, especially the Ibans, Jabu keeps them away from the union,” said Brian.
‘Dayak unity elusive’
Meanwhile, Masing said that it was not wise for active politicians to head the union because their inherent enemies would tend to follow them wherever they went.
“Because of this, unity is an elusive dream,” he said.
He said that he had been approached to head the union, but had to reject it.
However, Masing gave an assurance that he would assist the union behind the scene if needed.
In his acceptance speech, Mawan called on members to cast aside past problems and political affiliations so that the union could move forward.
“Unity must prevail and past issues should never be allowed to become distractions. Now is the time to uphold the spirit of working together and moving forward,” he said.
Source: Free Malaysia Today