Thursday, October 30

“Paramount Chief” title for Beginda?

It must take Beginda Minda a tremendous amount of courage to come out with a statement accusing both UMNO, the backbone of the federal government, and PBB, the backbone of the state government of Sarawak, of abuse of power and of big bullies.

He risks of being expelled from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), of his business being taken away and of being condemned and ridiculed by BN leaders. But what he said is true and the abuse of power mentioned is only a tip of the iceberg.

How many our YBs and Dayak leaders who dare to speak for and on behalf of the Dayaks who have been marginalised, who have been sidelined, who have their NCR land taken away and who have been ignored in any field? You just name it!

But the way our elected leaders speak as if they do not have “tails” and what we often hear from them is “don’t do that Taib does not like it” or “Taib does not like so and so as president” or “this is sensitive to Taib” or “we must refer it to Taib” or “Taib has the final say”.

Our leaders are only interested in “apple polishing” to borrow a term used by YB Tiong King Sing against teachers who defended the director of education and they heap praises on the chief minister, hoping perhaps, that the chief minister may give them his ear.

Phrases like Taib is “champion of our NCR land rights”, “father of politics of development”, “the best chief minister in the world” are common to hear. And they are those who say “yang disayangi” or “yang dikasihi” or “our beloved” chief minister.

And one leader (enggai aku nyebut nama iya, laban iya deka nganu) uses phrases not once in a speech, but up to 20 times. When he speaks, those in the audience start to count their fingers. In North Korea, these are the phrases being showered on their leader Kin Jung-il.

Beginda would have been a better YB than many of our current YBs who have failed to serve the rakyat who elected them. In fact, Beginda deserves not only our respect, but also deserves to be bestowed with the title of the “Paramount Chief of the Ibans” or “Raja Berani”.

The last person who held the post was the late Tun Jugah. Perhaps it is a good idea to have this title restored to its former prestige and honour in an effort to instill the spirit of unity among the Ibans. Is there any SPDP or PRS leader who dares to raise the issue? Certainly this is not a sensitive issue.

Tuesday, October 28

More cases of 'bullying' by PBB ~ ref Malaysiakini

Another PRS division leader has come out in support of a colleague’s claim that PBB is ‘bullying’ state component parties, even as speculation swirls that heads could roll. The following article was extracted from Malaysiakini
By Tony Thien Oct 28, 08 11:23am
The Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) is abuzz like a hornet’s nest that has been disturbed, following an accusation that Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) has been ‘bullying’ component parties.

Another Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) division leader has come out in support of the claim - Simanggang division publicity chief Nanta Chaku cited three examples in a statement to Malaysiakini.

On Saturday, the party’s Baleh division publicity head Beginda Minda had revealed two instances of alleged bullying by PBB, led by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (right), as well as by Umno.

Nanta said: “To support Beginda Minda's contention... three other examples come to mind immediately:

1. Since 1981 other component parties in the Sarawak BN have been required to send two to three names of candidates for each constituency held by them, for the PBB leadership to pick the ones to contest. In other words, the final selection is subject to PBB's decision.

2. A certain high-ranking Iban personage in PBB who fancies himself as the paramount chief of the (community) always insists on appointing his favourites as Penghulus, Pemancha and Temenggong (even) where PBB does not have elected (representatives).

3. In the contest for top posts in component parties, the election is dependent on close (connections between) the candidates (and) the PBB leadership. In other words, candidates perceived to be supported by the PBB leadership always seems to win. Social and economic issues doesn't seem to matter, but closeness to the PBB leadership does.

”Nanta also said ‘big boys’ in Sarawak BN deny ‘small boys’ any say in the final selection of candidates, whether for a general election, appointment of community chiefs or party leaders.

Since this is subject to final approval by PBB leaders, it makes a mockery of the original concept of the BN power-sharing concept in Sarawak, he said.

“It is perhaps more accurate to say that PBB is not only all too dominant but also domineering in attitude vis-a-vis smaller component parties.”

‘Explore other options’

Nanta urged members of other component parties to examine their options.

In the two examples cited by Beginda, reference was made to selection of candidates for the Sri Aman and Lubok Antu parliamentary seats, held by PRS in the March general election, and to a particular candidate selected for the 2006 state election.

Beginda had reminded the BN top leadership that the coalition must wake up to current political realities and stop being in a state of denial.

“Before, there was only BN which could provide the national leadership. After March 2008, it is clear that PRS has other, perhaps better, options,” he ended with a veiled warning, without elaborating what these options might be.

In an immediate reaction to this, Masing - the state assemblyperson for Baleh - distanced the party from the claim, describing it as Beginda’s personal stance.

Masing said he could not stop members from expressing their views but felt that they should not go overboard in their criticism. He also said he would initiate an investigation.

Beginda is one of Masing’s right-hand men and his comments have irked Taib, who is the state BN chairperson.

It is learnt that Taib has told Masing to take disciplinary action against Beginda.
Rumours are circulating that the latter may already have been sacked, but this could not be immediately verified.

Sunday, October 26

PBB is indeed the biggest bully in Sarawak ~ ref Malaysiakini

Voices of dissent among component parties of the Barisan Nasional are becoming loud and clear now against the 27-year old administration of Abdul Taib Mahmud. Leaders of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), for example, have been grumbling over the way the party has been treated over the appointment of the mayor for Kuching south city council. The appointment of mayor usually comes from SUPP, and its failure to retain the post had become an issue in the 2006 state election contributing perhaps to the loss of six seats to the Opposition. This makes SUPP unhappy.

In Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), some leaders have expressed unhappiness with the way Taib handles the PRS crisis. Since Larry Sng has been expelled from the party, PRS leaders want him replaced as assistant minister. But Taib still retains Larry.

PRS has also demanded why it is not given chairmanships of some government-linked companies (GLCs) and the way NCR land has been seized from landowners. Not only compensations are not paid, the landowners have also been evicted from their ancentral land now declared as “State land”. James Masing’s ministry of land development has come up with proper land development to deal with NCR land and applications have been submitted, but the applications are either delayed or simply kept in the files.

It is understood that Masing has sent a note to the chief minister seeking explanations as to why no actions have been taken on his projects, some of which he submitted three or four years ago. He even questions whether this government is really serious to see that the NCR land develops properly.

As seen by his supporters, Masing is clearly a powerless minister. He even does not have a say in SALCRA’s policies and development, although it is under his ministry. The chairman of the board is more powerful than him just because he is Alfred Jabu, deputy chief minister. Masing has complained to Taib about this strange arrangement, but Taib simply refuses to listen to him.

All these complaints have made Masing unpopular with Taib Mahmud, because Taib does not tolerate anyone questioning his authority. This is what had happened to Daniel Tajem when he served under Taib cabinet in the 1980s.

So is Dr. James Masing becoming the second “Daniel Tajem” to have fallen out of favour from Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Sarawak’s longest serving and most power chief minister?

Like Tajem, Masing was once the “blue-eye” boy of Taib Mahmud especially during the height of the leadership crisis in Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in 2003 and this crisis led to the deregistration of the party on 21 October 2004; and he helped Masing to form PRS and to admit it to the BN family.

But things have gone wrong since 2006 when PRS was bogged down with a leadership crisis of its own and the way things are going now between Masing and Taib seem to confirm the “cool” relationship between the two men.

Masing was reported to have told his supporters recently that they must be prepared for the worst as they “have been squeezed” now. Masing did not explain what he meant by the word “squeezed”.

Certainly, the strong statement made by Beginda Minda on 25 October 2008 accusing PBB, and indirectly Taib Mahmud, of being a big bully is making things worse between PRS and PBB and between Masing and Taib. Beginda, publicity officer of PRS’s Baleh Division cited a number of examples to prove his point.

Among others, he specifically mentioned the nomination of candidates in the March election for the parliamentary constituencies of Lubok Antu and Sri Aman. Although Beginda did not reveal much detail, let me quote an excerpt from a book, The Broken Shield under the heading “Nyallau and Masir are PBB men”?

“Both William Nyallau and Masir Kujat were alleged to have been PBB men planted in PRS. Their selection was not done by Masing, but by PBB. Masing’s choice for Lubok Antu was a young professional, Desmond Sateng, who had been with Masing since the days of PBDS. But his choice was rejected. Insiders in PRS said that the District Officer, Lubok Antu Nelson Mujah had prepared a ‘resume’ for Nyallau and strongly recommended him to be a candidate. That resume was alleged to have been passed to Alfred Jabu and then to the chief minister.

“When Masing heard about Nyallau’s candidacy on the morning of 24 February, he immediately phoned Desmond that the seat had been ‘hijacked’ and apologized to him for missing the boat. As Desmond was young, Masing hoped he would be patient.

“As for Masir, it was a different story. Although Masir worked as a Principal Assistant Secretary in the office of the minister of land development, Dr. James Masing, he was not the first choice to contest. Masing had picked Doris Brodie, a loyalist to be the candidate for Sri Aman. But when the list came out, it was Masir who was named the candidate. Masing, Mong Dagang, the State Assemblyman for Bukit Begunan, and their supporters were unhappy. But there was nothing they could do as the decision had been made by Taib Mahmud.

“According to Donald Lawan, former State Assemblyman for Bukit Begunan and now a businessman, Masir’s selection was because of him. ‘For two hours I met the chief minister regarding Masir’s candidacy. I am responsible for his selection and not Masing,’ he said.

“Lawan’s open bragging about his closeness with the chief minister and his wealth not only alienated Mong’s supporters, but also seemed to confirm PRS members’ suspicion that Masir was a PBB man planted through Lawan. Lawan was and is known to be a PBB man ever since he was interested in politics in the 1980s.”

In West Malaysia, MCA, MIC and Gerakan have started to question the “big brother’s role” of UMNO and have blamed UMNO president, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for their defeats. Abdullah is now accepting the blame and is handing over the leadership of UMNO and by convention the prime ministership to his deputy.

In Parliament last week, the Ulu Rajang MP, Billy Abit Joo, PRS vice president showed that he dared to be different when he joined the ranks of Opposition MPs in signing a petition to review the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA). He is a true leader of the people.

Now Beginda has started the ball rolling. But will the ball continue to roll in an effort to expose abuses of power, cases of bully, discrimination, injustices and corruption in the State? Will you be one of them from BN to continue to kick the ball?

PRS: Umno is a bully, so is PBB

The following article was posted in Malaysiakini which described UMNO & PBB as "bullies" in their dealings with smaller component parties in the Barisan Nasional. I will give my comments on the article in my next posting.

A Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) division leader has described Umno at the federal level and Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) in Sarawak as ‘too dominant’ and indeed are ‘bullies’ in their dealings with smaller component parties in the Barisan Nasional.

Taking a cue from the statement of former MCA president Ong Ka Ting who has expressed similar sentiments, Balleh PRS publicity chief Beginda Minda said this tendency of one party dominance has an adverse impact on public perception and intra BN relationships.

“It is my view that in Sarawak, PRS, a component party inside the state and federal Barisan Nasional has been bullied by what could collectively be called the "BN leadership," he said in a statement to Malaysiakini today.

Elaborating, Beginda explained that in the case of Sarawak, the BN system has generated a state level entity where there has been one dominant party, the PBB which is leading the state BN government.
Very powerful Taib Mahmud
PBB president Abdul Taib Mahmud is also state BN chair and chief minister of Sarawak for the past 27 years.

He has long been described as Sarawak's most powerful personality and is known to be intolerant of dissent within the party's ranks.

“Just as there is a public perception of Umno being too dominant at the national level, there is also a similar perception that in Sarawak, the dominant role of PBB has had an effect on the conduct of smaller parties, such as PRS,” Beginda said.

Prime Minister and national BN chair Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has responded immediately to Ong’s remarks on Oct 18, denying that Umno has bullied others in the BN.

Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib has also asked for proofs of Umno bullying.

Responding to Muhammad Taib’s request, Beginda cited two recent instances of Umno and PBB bullying PRS.

The first was during the 2006 state election when a component BN party was ‘allowed’ to steal a PRS seat.

“Neither the state nor federal BN intervened effectively to stop a component party from interfering in the affairs of another. Where was BN when effective action was needed?

It was as if the BN was shutting its proverbial "eye" to the intra-BN infighting in Sarawak. By letting the problem fester, it was acting as a bully, not a problem solver,” Beginda pointed out.

The second incident was during the March general election when two of the party’s candidates were rejected without any reason.

Beginda queried why was PBB allowed to choose its candidates to contest on PRS seats.

“Where is the principle that component parties ought to be free to conduct their own affairs and make the selection of candidates themselves? Is this not a case of dominance and bullying?” he asked.

“As a result, PRS was caught in a dilemma. The choices were two: PRS could have rejected the suggested replacements or it could have accepted them.

A refusal to accept the replacement candidates could have left the party open to accusations of being disloyal to BN, a grave enough political sin. Such a move would have put PRS leadership in hot soup and perhaps alienate the party from BN.

“The impact on PRS was that it was a tremendous "let down". To paraphrase Dato Seri Ong, the perception was that a partner in Sarawak BN - the PBB - was being "too dominant".

Despite these internal BN problems, Sarawak managed to deliver all but one of its 31 parliamentary seats to the BN. The ruling coalition only lost Bandar Kuching to DAP.

PRS is led by Dr James Masing who is the party's founder president. He is also state land development minister.

PRS has six members of parliament. Its vice-president Joseph Entulu serves at the federal level as deputy minister for national and rural development.
Other options, other than BN
On the current situation within the Sarawak BN, Beginda said it would seem that “we in PRS are still back in a bad school environment where the weaker students are being bullied by the more senior ones.”

He called for a mechanism in the BN for components parties to be protected from the predation of others, no matter what the excuse.

“Umno and PBB could be strong but that should be so without being dominant up to the level that it could openly ‘interfere’ into the internal affairs of another component party,” said Beginda.

Stressing that the BN leadership must be just, Beginda said the organisational integrity of a component party like PRS must be maintained.

“Its decisions, such as the nomination of candidates, must be respected. Failure to do this could lead to fragmentation at the peripheries and ultimately could spread to the centre,” he warned.

Beginda also emphasised on the need for re-generation, re-vitalization and re-growth within the BN.

“The BN machinery is seen as an ossified body, presently unable to respond effectively to the needs of component parties and that of the country as a whole.

The message is that such dominance need to be rectified and ways be found as a means of resuscitating the rest of the BN partners so that the BN machinery could be energized and respond to the people more effectively, “he said.

Beginda reminded the BN top leadership that the coalition must wake up to current political realities and stop being in a state of denial.

“Before, there was only BN which could provide the national leadership. After March 2008, it is clear that PRS has other, perhaps better, options,” he added with that friendly ‘warning’.

Thursday, October 23

The need to have Dayak as member of Election Commission

MCA youth Chief Liow Tiong Lai’s proposal for two Barisan Nasional deputy chairmen posts, instead of one, should be supported by all BN component parties. But his insistence that the post should go to MCA being the second largest party may not be well received by other BN parties. In fairness and justice, that second post should go to either Sabah or Sarawak considering the sizes of the two states and the number of MPs they have. But the sad thing is that the BN leaders from the two States will not make such a “sensitive” proposal. They only make noise after somebody has said it.

Anyway, such a proposal should not end there. It should also be applied to the appointment of two deputy prime ministers – one caters for the whole of West Malaysia and the other for East Malaysia. This proposal, which was made by non-BN leaders, is expected to further strengthen ties between Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya, the three partners in the formation of Malaysia. And the best opportunity to implement the proposal is in the new cabinet of Najib Tun Razak in March next year.

Since we are on this subject of second deputy chairman or second deputy prime minister, it is also pertinent to talk of a proposal to introduce the second deputy chairman post for the election commission. And for this post, if it should be created, should be filled by a Sabahan or Sarawakian. Better still, if the man is a Kadazandusun or a Dayak. After all, the Malays and other races have been fairly represented in the Commission.

In my book, The Broken Shield – the Dayak Dilemma (second volume), I wrote that in the first direct election in 1970, the Ibans were predominant in 20 seats in the 48 seat-State legislative assembly. The Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities had five and three seats respectively. The Malay/Melanau majority seats were 12 and the Chinese eight.

In the 1988 delineation exercise, the election commission increased the State legislative assembly seats to 56. While the Malay/Melanau seats increased by six to 18 and the Chinese by three to 11, the Iban seats were reduced to 17 and Orang Ulu to two. The Bidayuh seats remained at five.

In the 1999/2000 exercise, the State legislative assembly seats were increased to 62. Again the Malay/Melanau seats were increased by six to 24 and the Chinese to 13. The Iban majority-seats remained at 17, Bidayuh seats remained at five and Orang Ulu increased by one to three.

In the 2005 exercise, the seats of the assembly were increased to 71. Again the Malay/Melanau seats were increased by four more to 28 and the Chinese to 14. The Iban seats returned to 20, the position the Ibans held 28 years ago. The Bidayuhs seats increased to six. Only Orang Ulu remained at three. All this happened just because the Dayaks were not represented in the commission.

Clearly the Dayaks’ political influence have been eroded, their role in political participation sidelined, and their interests ignored.

Perhaps with a Dayak, sitting as the second deputy chairman or appointed as a member of the election commission, Dayak majority seats might, I say, might be increased in proportional representation with the Dayak population which is more than 60% of the 2.3 million Sarawakians come the next delineation exercise.

Monday, October 20

A superman at work?

Datu Haji Len Talif

In his Dayak Baru blog, Dr. John Brian’s question as to why there were few Dayak civil servants in any government departments nowadays drew a host of reactions and comments from the readers. But one comment regarding a senior civil servant, Datu Len Talif being likened as a “superman at work” caught my attention.

I must take off my hat and salute Datu Len Talif Salleh as he is, I believe, not only the most remarkable civil servant in the Sarawak Civil Service, but also possesses a super human ability and capacity. With a Bachelor of Science in Forestry degree in 1979, Len Talif’s right connections and his rapid rise to the top is therefore not surprising at all.

Today after a period of 29 years, he is now the managing director of Sarawak Forests Corporation, the Director of Forests Department, the General Manager of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), and the Deputy Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management.

In addition to the four, he has also been given four other special tasks. All these departments, corporations and ministry are extremely important, the ones that are involved in multi-billion ringgits worth of projects, resources such as land and forest products including timber.

One commentator said: “Len Talif must be a super human to be able to cope with the tasks or duties of these organisations. He should be cloned to create more “Len Talifs” to deal with the development of the proposed Sarawak Corridor Renewable Energy (SCORE) worth about RM110 billion in terms of possible investments. Another “Len Talif” should be assigned to Sarawak’s first silicon that is now losing close to RM2 billion.

While we do not envy Len Talif’s unbelievable ability, his appointments, however, are depriving others especially in the four organisations of being promoted. In the STIDC, for instance, there are a number of civil servants including one Dayak PhD holder who are capable and qualified to helm the corporation.

In the forest department, there are also a number of highly qualified Dayak officers and so are in the Sarawak Forestry Corporation. Given a chance, they are as capable as Len Talif or as good as Idris Jala. (Idris Jala is a Dayak who is able to turn the ailing MAS in 2005 into an airlines that reaped a profit of nearly one billion ringgit last year).

But sadly, the Dayaks are not given a chance to prove themselves, although heading the Dayak promotion exercise in the State is a Dayak minister.

Friday, October 17

The Broken Shield feels honoured

Despite hundreds of local blogs, some of which are very critical of the state government and its leaders, the blog - The Broken Shield – was singled out when a deputy chief minister, Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang mentioned it during a cabinet meeting on 16 October 2008.

“As the owner of the blog, I feel honoured that The Broken Shield has been singled out. It means that there are people including those in high places reading the blog,” said Jetty whose real name is Joseph Tawie. He is also the author of a book, The Broken Shield that features problems confronting the Dayak community.

“I will continue to write and highlight injustices, unfair treatment and discrimination against the Dayak community,” he said.

The following is a Malaysiakini story
by Tony Thien on Oct 16, 2008. Your views and comments are most welcome.
Penan Sexual Abuse: DCM Jabu ticks off blogger
A blog posting urging the state authorities to probe the alleged sexual abuse of young Penan women in Sarawak’s Baram has angered Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang so much that he singled out the blogger for criticism at the state cabinet meeting yesterday. The blogger, Joseph Tawie, a former police press liaison officer and now freelance writer, accused state leaders of trying to cover up the controversy in his blog, The Broken Shield.

According to a state cabinet minister who asked not to be identified, Jabu also expressed his displeasure at another article by Tawie, who lambasted Dayak ministers of not supporting the inaugural Dayak Music Awards organised recently by the Sarawak Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

The weekly cabinet meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Another cabinet minister also confirmed that Jabu also directed his scathing remarks at several individuals, including a journalist of a national newspaper, in connection with the hard-hitting postings in Tawie’s blog.

It is well-known that Jabu, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera (PBB) deputy president (Pesaka wing), is echoing Taib’s views whenever there are public criticisms against the state government, especially on land matters, such as the native customary rights (NCR) issue.

The DCCI president is Leo Moggie, a former state and federal minister and now Tenaga Nasional chairperson and deputy president is a former state minister Celestine Ujang.

State Dayak ministers also stayed away from the joint celebration of the DCCI and its Sabah counterpart, the Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), which was held in Miri earlier this year.

The truth embarrassing for state leaders

Writing under the headlines ‘Penan rape cases: Let the truth prevails’, Tawie said: “The instant formation of a task force by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to look into the plight of the Penan schoolgirls as a result of rapes and abuse allegedly perpetrated by timber workers is timely to search for truth.

“Timely, because state leaders in particular (Chief Minister) Abdul Taib Mahmud, (Deputy Chief Minister) George Chan and (Deputy Chief Minister) Alfred Jabu have not only accused newspapers of deliberately publishing false news, but have also accused them as saboteurs. ‘Saboteurs’ is a very strong word indeed.”

The blogger also referred to the reports in The Star on Oct 6 where incidences of rape cases and abuse of Penan schoolgirls by timber workers were confirmed.

“If there are some truth, then the truth will have an embarrassing effect on our (state) government leaders.”

He added that if the truth could be established by the national task force, then parents of the abused girls should seek compensation from the timber companies as well as the state government.

Tawie also touched on the display of public anger by Taib Mahmud against newspapers when they highlighted the 10,000 Kedayan Muslims who were to be evicted from their century-old settlement in order to make way for an oil palm plantation.

“Let take the case of the Kedayan Muslims. It seems that the state government was embarrassed when the case was reported by the media, as if they were unable to protect the Kedayans who were their strong supporters,” he said.

In order to cover up for its seemingly nonchalant attitude, the state leaders and Land and Survey Department director issued a number of statements blaming the media for publishing false reports.

The purported eviction of the Kedayans is the second of such cases in recent months, according to the blog.

Early last month, the government also denied being involved in the removal of 44 graves from a Muslim cemetery at Jalan Keretapi in the capital city of Kuching.

According to rumours, the land has been given to a company owned by an individual who is related to a state government leader.

“Now the government has assured that the cemetery will not be removed, compensations are being discussed for the damaged graves.” added Tawie.

Iban ministers no show at music awards

On the Dayak Music Awards, the blogger said the DCCI’s efforts are commendable and should be given “all-out support”.

“But sadly, there seems to be lack of support coming from the Iban businessmen and Iban ministers and assistant ministers and the absence of (state ministers) William Mawan, James Lasing, Alfred Jabu, (federal minister) Douglas Uggah, (federal deputy ministesr) Joseph Entulu and Jelaing Mersat, (state assistant ministers) Francis Harden, Gramong Juna and Peter Nyarok were obvious.”

Only state minister Michael Manyin, assistant state minister Naroden Majais and deputy federal minister Joseph Salang were seen at the event.

“Never mind Jabu, but what about the rest? We know that Jabu has always been against the formation of DCCI and its activities,” the blogger added.

The article argued that if Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek could come from Kuala Lumpur to attend the awards, there was no reason why the Iban ministers did not show up at the event.“

That was the time our singers really needed our support and support is like a horse trading (You scratch my back, I scratch yours),” he said, adding that “you may not need them now, come election times, the Dayak singers are the most wanted commodity.”

“Like in USA, as also elsewhere, including Sarawak, the role of singers in attracting audience during campaigning is now part of democracy,” Tawie said.

Tawie told Malaysiakini he was not bothered by Jabu’s remarks to his cabinet colleagues as he had merely stated the facts in his blog. #

Saturday, October 11

Can Najib help Dayaks?

Come March 2009, Najib Tun Razak is poised to become the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia, fulfilling the RAHMAN theory (R-Rahman, A-Abdul, H-Hussein, M-Mahathir, A-Abdullah, N-Najib).

But what does the fulfillment of the theory mean? Is it going to be a new era or a new government other than the BN government? What happens after Najib? Can the next government begin with another “A”? These are some of the questions being asked by people who are familiar of the existence of the theory.

Adding further to the theory is the fact that there are several allegations against Najib, which are ready to be exploited by his political foes and certainly all these are sure to have some effects on his premiership, his reputation as an UMNO president as well as chairman of the Barisan Nasional.

No doubt Najib is ready for all these allegations. But the question is whether or not he is able to convince the Rakyat of his innocence, because in the final analysis the Rakyat are the judges. Any miscalculation on his part may bring Anwar Ibrahim closer to Putrajaya, the seat of the federal government.

But for those who really believe in supernatural, the end of the BN is insight especially with some of the signs that have already manifested themselves after the March election during which the BN had performed dismally.

The failure of BN in the Permatang Pauh by-election in August; the internal bickering in BN component parties, the leadership struggle in UMNO which is also bogged down by accusations of cronyism, nepotism and money politics; the constant raising of issues concerning orang pendatang (immigrants), issues of races and religions; the failure of NEP to help the poor; the many broken promises; the demands for reforms; the rising of Anwar Ibrahim, etc. All these are heavy burdens that Najib is going to carry with him into the next government.

Meanwhile the educated Dayaks are watching with great interest the transfer of power from Abdullah to Najib. Normally they do not really care whether Abdullah or Najib is helming the government. After all they are all the same executing BN policy.

Since the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman (in 1966 when the Iban chief minister was dismissed) and until today, the Dayaks have been marginalized, have been accused of anti-development and anti-government, have been regarded with scepticism and suspicions, have their parties deregistered due to trivial issues (SNAP in 2002 and PBDS in 2004) and are prevented from forming a party to represent the Dayaks.

Although Najib is yet to be tested as a Prime Minister, his relationship with Abdul Taib Mahmud whose brother married Tun Abdul Rahman’s daughter is certain to be strengthened, and this makes the Dayaks dreadfully worried especially with regard to their NCR lands. For now, hundreds of thousands of hectares of NCR land have been leased to companies for oil palm plantations. No compensation is being made as the government says that the NCR land is State land. Nor can the landowners complain to the Federal Government. They just don’t listen. And under Najib, the taking away of NCR land can be worse.

But hope is still not lost, as I said that Najib is yet to occupy the highest seat of the government and we are yet to see the composition of his own new Cabinet. And if he is really serious in trying to help the Dayaks who are far left behind in every field of endeavour, then he should appoint at least two more Dayaks as ministers out of 14 Dayak MPs, and they should be given important ministries.

At least such appointments will not only make Dayaks feel wanted, recognized and appreciated, but will also help solve some of the problems that have beset the Dayak community.

Thursday, October 9

Penan rape cases: Let the truth prevails

(Image credit:

The instant formation of a task force by the Women, Family and CommunityDevelopment Ministry to look into the plight of the Penan school girls as a result of rapes and abuse allegedly perpetrated by timber workers is timely to search for truth. Timely, because State leaders in particular Abdul Taib Mahmud, George Chan and Alfred Jabu have not only accused newspapers of deliberately publishing false news, but have also accused them as saboteurs. “Saboteurs” is a very strong word indeed.

What if there are some truths to the reports that appeared in The Star on 6 October where full “details” of rape cases and abuse of Penan school girls by timber workers were exposed? If there are some truths, then the truths will have an embarrassing effect on our government leaders.

Now if the truths have been established by the task force, then the parents of the girls, through legal firms, should seek compensations from the timber companies as well as the State government.

Why are the State leaders particularly Abdul Taib Mahmud so angry with the newspapers when they highlighted first, the 10,000 Kedayan Muslims who were to be evicted from their century old settlement in order to give way for an oil palm plantation, and second, on the rape cases and abuse of Penan school girls by timber workers?

Let take the case of the Kedayan Muslims. It seems that the State government was embarrassed when the case was reported by the media, as if they were unable to protect the Kedayans who were their strong supporters. In order to cover up for its seemingly uncaring attitude, the State leaders and director of land and survey department issued a number of conflicting statements blaming the media for making false reports. But at certain part of the director’s statement admitted there were certain lots (about 3,000 hectares) alienated to an oil palm company.

The purported eviction of the Kedayans is the second case. Early last month, the government also denied being involved in the removal of 44 graves from a Muslim cemetery at Jalan Keretapi, Kuching. But the rumors circulated were that the authority was allegedly given to a company owned by a woman who is related to a leader of the government. Now the government has assured that the cemetery will not be removed. Compensations are being discussed for the damaged graves.

On the rape cases of the Penan girls, the government had to deny that there was no such a thing, as it did not want the story to be blown up because of international implications. First, they did not want the world to know that the Penans had been deprived of their livelihood when their “pemakai menua” territorial domains and their ancestral lands were seized for oil palm and acacia plantations as well as destroying their forests, the sources of their foods. If the Penans’ plight is to be highlighted, then the possibility of our tropical forest timber and palm oil exports may be banned by the European Union, USA and Japan.

Secondly, the government does not want the world to know that their efforts to rehabilitate the Penans through a Penan affairs committee set up in 1988 had not produced the desired results. In fact Penan leaders have been questioning the government as to what happened to millions of ringgit supposed to be set side to help them. Maybe the Penan leaders should give some details to ACA for them to investigate.

My next point is why our Dayak leaders and Dayak NGOs especially the Orang Ulu National Association have chosen to remain quiet when one of their kind was being bullied, abused and their women raped?

The lack of response from our Dayak YBs and Dayak NGOs gives the impression that they are afraid to be associated with the Penans for fear of being labeled as anti-government or anti-development. For decades, the Penans are famous fighting for their rights to livelihood and for setting up blockades against timber companies, who have encroached into their ancestral lands and forests. Many of them have been arrested and sent to jails.

But can we blame them for seeking help from outside the State, when the government, instead of helping to rehabilitate them, deprives them of their rights to live the way they want to live?

For full coverage of the report on Penan by The Star, go here.

Monday, October 6

Malaysia needs Equality Act?

Following the remarks made by Ahmad Ismail on Chinese being “immigrants” and “squatters”, during the Permatang Pauh by-election in August, the Federal Government is contemplating of introducing Race Relations Act as one of the ways to solve the racial problems confronting the country.

But is it necessary? Malaysians are divided on this. While some West Malaysians agree to its establishment, Sarawakians including their political leaders on the whole are not very receptive to the idea. This is because in Sarawak, despite its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, the people are more tolerant towards each other. And this has been going on since Sarawak obtained its independence more than 45 years ago.

Instead of the Race Relations Act, perhaps the government should introduce Equality Act which should be similar to the one introduced by Britain in 2006.

This Act should support the development of society where people’s ability to achieve potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination; there is respect for and protection of each individual’s human rights; there is respect for the dignity and worth of every individual; every individual has an equal opportunity to participate in society; and there is mutual respect between groups based on understanding and valuing diversity and a shared respect for equality and human rights.

The Act should aim to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between all people and promote and protect human rights, ensuring that everybody has a fair chance to participate in society.

As it is now, the Dayaks, despite guaranteed by Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and Article 39 of the State Constitution, have been discriminated against in the fields of education, business and economic activities, funds for development, in the recruitment to and promotions in the civil service including the Army and the Police, in NCR land development, road infrastructures, basic amenities, etc.

Unless something is done to redress this situation, the Dayaks will be very, very far left behind, so far behind that they may not be able to catch up with the advanced communities when vision 2020 comes by. This is where the time bomb lies. And the introduction of the Equality Act is not only to prevent discrimination from getting bad to worse, but also to strengthen Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and Article 39 of the State Constitution.

Friday, October 3

Quote of the Day

“Don’t play rough with me….because I am the government,” said Abdul Taib Mahmud, chief minister of Sarawak. He was commenting on protests by 10,000 Kedayan Muslims whose ancestral land was being taken away by a company for the planting of oil palm. Some 5,500 hectares of their land in Sibuti were involved.

“Because once you start playing rough, you cut all communications with me. In the end you still have to communicate with me, because I am the government,” he said. His remarks were published in The Borneo Post today.

Taib’s strong statement reminded me of our history during the days of the barbarians when kings in those days declared; “I am the king and I am the law”.

Anyone who dared to oppose the kings would have his head beheaded or his property including land seized.

Like the Kedayans, other Natives have also their ancestral lands, declared as State land, had been taken away and sold to big companies for the planting of oil palm. The natives had many times appealed to the government for discussions, but the government had turned deaf ears to their requests.

If they reported to the Police regarding the encroachment to their land, the Police would not take action. Fed up, they took the law into their hands and were prepared to be detained so that they could take legal action.

Therefore, it is nice to hear that Taib is prepared to meet the Kedayans to resolve the matter. Likewise, and hopefully, Taib should also be prepared to meet other natives on similar issues as there are hundreds of thousands of NCR land owned by the Ibans, Penans, Kayans, Kenyahs and Bidayuhs have been given to big companies without compensations. Open discussions with the people will not only bring benefits to the land owners, the companies and the government, but also peace, harmony and prosperity.