Saturday, January 31

This government must be changed, says Tajem

Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem

A prominent Dayak leader today called for a change of government if the Dayaks want to remedy the injustices that have been meted against the community.

“For the past 45 years the Dayaks have suffered injustices, have been marginalized and have been sidelined in education, scholarships, business opportunities and our NCR lands have been taken and given to big companies,” Datuk Sri Daniel Tajem (pic above) said.

Tajem, who was former Deputy Chief Minister and president of the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) was opening a one-day Dayak symposium at a leading hotel in Sibu.

Some 200 professionals and members of the Dayak organisations coming from through the State attended the symposium.

“The only remedy or option open to us is to change the State government,” he said and added that failing to do so would further disenfranchise and disempower the Dayaks.

Tajem said that the State government had introduced a bill to change “Sea Dayak” to “Iban”, the “Land Dayak” to “Bidayuh” and “Murut” to “Lun Bawang”.

The governor has not signed the bill into law, but once it becomes law it means that “Iban”, “Bidayuh” and “Lun Bawang” are no longer natives and will not enjoy the rights and privileges as embodied under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“Even forming a party of our own as provided for under Article 10 (1) (c) we are not only not allowed to form one, we are being accused of likely to cause a threat to national security, public order, peace and harmony.

“During insurgency, we are made heroes and during peace time, we are considered as a threat to national security. Can you believe that?” he said.

Tajem also touched on the amendments to Section 5 (a) (2) of the Land code that have eroded our rights over land.

Earlier the chairman of the Dayak symposium, Augustine Liom said that the ultimate aim of the symposium would endeavour to expose and deliberate on the many sins of the Barisan Nasional Government that have caused miseries, grievances and frustrations to the Dayak communities, be they Bidayuh, Iban or Orang Ulu. – The Broken Shield

Picture credit:

See a video report of this story

Tuesday, January 27

Four are possible as Taib’s successor?

Is Abdul Taib Mahmud really anxious now to look for a successor? This seems to be the hint when he made reference to the criteria of his successor in a speech read by George Chan at the annual general meeting of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) in Sibu 10 January 2009.

Previously he would be furious with reporters when the question of his stepping down or his successor being asked. But at the SPDP function he seemed to be anxious when he included the subject of successor in his speech. Could he be hard-pressed to look for one knowing that he is now in the twilight zone of his career?

Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sarawak Chief Minster since March 1981, has been saying it now and then that he is still looking for his successor. Since he expressed his intention to step down more than 10 years ago, he had identified a number of politicians who should take over from him. Unfortunately, one by one of them have now disappeared into political oblivion. Among the politicians were Bujang Ulis, Abang Abu Bakar, Effendi Norwawi and Adenan Satem.

At that SPDP function, Taib clearly stated that ANYONE regardless of race could be supported to take over from him as the chief minister.

“He must be trained to do the job from now. The criteria are that he must be smart and sincere in the struggle to develop the state and raise the living standard of the people.”

Immediately coming into our focus are two deputy presidents of PBB the back-bone of the State Government: Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, deputy president (I) and deputy chief minister and Abang Zohari Tun Openg, deputy president (II) and Minister of Housing.

No one can deny that Jabu has all the experience and the expertise to be the chief minister of Sarawak. There is no necessity for him to be trained NOW to hold the highest office in the State the way the Police personnel are being trained for promotions to higher ranks. A graduate in Agriculture, he has been tutored by two Sarawak’s greatest politicians, Abdul Rahman Yakub and Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Like Taib, Jabu who had been elected as State assemblyman for Layar since 1974 has been holding various ministerial posts including deputy chief minister, first under Abdul Rahman Yakub, and then under Abdul Taib Mahmud from March 1981.

Jabu’s main problem is that he has been picking quarrels with those who do not share his political views or see the things the way he sees them. Thus the majority of educated Dayaks and Dayak non-governmental organisations (NGOs) do not support him as their leader.

He is only being regarded as the Dayak leader from Betong where he concentrates his development and political efforts. He has no ideas to develop other districts or divisions. Even projects meant for other divisions have been ‘hijacked’ to Betong.

These are Jabu’s minus points. In the words of Taib Mahmud that someone who takes over from him must be “smart and sincere in the struggle to develop the State and raise the living standard of the people.”

Still, Jabu can enhance his position as the undisputed Dayak leader if he knows how to tackle the educated Dayaks and Dayak NGOs such as calling for a dialogue and seeking their advice and opinions as how to improve the Dayak community. They can be his “think tank”.

Another chief minister material is Abang Zohari. An MBA graduate from a British university, he has shown to be a very effective and capable minister. When Taib appointed him as industrial development minister, he was able to bring billions of ringgit worth of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to Sarawak.

After he left and moved to the tourism ministry, the amount of FDIs to Sarawak declined sharply. In the tourism ministry, he turned it into a machine-making money earning billions of ringgit from tourists who came from Japan, Korea, China, Arab and European countries.

In the last cabinet reshuffle, Abang Zohari was moved from the tourism ministry to the ailing housing ministry which he still holds till this day. He was shocked to find out that the ministry was nearly “bankrupt” and was no fund to build even a single house. And what he did was to meet his federal counterpart and discussed his problem. From the discussion, he was able to secure RM200 million to carry out people’s housing projects in the State.

Abang Zohari’s other quality is that he is kind-hearted and approachable and earns the respect of the people. The Malays in Kuching are his bastion of support. In the party he has strong support from the party members especially the Ibans as evident by the support they gave him when he contested against Adenan Satem in 1998 PBB election for the post of deputy president. Despite Adenan Satem receiving the full support of the chief minister, Abang Zohari defeated him hands down.

Another person who can be considered as a possible successor to Taib Mahmud is Awang Tengah Ali Hassan. He appears to be the most powerful minister after Taib holding very important portfolios. Like Adenan, the Dayaks are suspicious of him, especially the way he handles the NCR land issues. To be an effective chief minister, he needs the support of the Dayaks.

Coming distant fourth is perhaps Taib’s own son, Sulaiman who is now a deputy minister in the federal cabinet. It appears that he is being trained and groomed NOW to take over the PBB leadership.

All the four politicians have every chance to be the next chief minister. But Sarawak’s book-makers are predicting that Sulaiman is the hot favourite to take over as chief minister and to continue Taib’s legacy, assuming that BN still wins in the next election.

Is there any taker?

However, to sum up, the Dayaks especially the Ibans do not mind who is being appointed as the next chief minister be he Chinese, Malay or Iban as long as he is able to solve the problem of NCR land that has haunted the native landowners since the State government’s amendments of the Land Code in 2000. –The Broken Shield


Saturday, January 24

'Tuai Rumah' beware of MACC

It is heartening to note that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has swung into action against corrupt UMNO leaders. And from the actions that have been taken, MACC seems to mean business. So far 13 UMNO leaders and members have been arrested over money politics. And more are expected to be hauled in.

The MACC actions are bringing hope to our society that is infested with corrupt practices. And the action is taken without fear or favour. Supporting the action taken by the MACC, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said: “The law of the country is the law of the country. No one can escape from it.”

And Najib’s comment is also a welcome news and an assurance to us in Sarawak as it is also bled by the evil of corruption.

But our main concern is the rampant corruption during election times when the use of money clearly puts the Opposition at a great disadvantage.

In two previous elections, the 2006 State and 2008 parliamentary elections, we witnessed a large amount of money being pumped into critical constituencies in order to influence voters and the money was passed through 'Tuai Rumah' (longhouse chiefs).

For instance in the Bukit Begunan and Batang Ai constituencies in the 2006 State election, Tuai Rumah were summoned to district offices two or three days before polling to a “meeting” during which they were handed goodies and ang pows.

When they returned to their own longhouses, the longhouse chiefs distributed the 'ang pows' to their respective “anembiaks” (followers) who were voters and warned them that any one who did not vote for the BN candidates would not be given shares of the goodies and ang pows. The “disobedient” voters might be kicked out from the longhouses.

It is a normal practice for the BN candidates to promise this project and that project for this longhouse and for that longhouse, and warn the longhouse people that the projects may be withdrawn if they do not vote for them. Is this allowed under the law?

The Opposition candidates had evidence of all these and had even lodged reports to Police and to the Anti-Corruption Agency. As usual no action had been taken.

But in the coming election, it is hoped that the recently reformed anti-corruption agency which is now armed to the teeth should play an important role in ensuring a free State election and should take actions against anyone, be they 'Tuai Rumah', Penghulu or ordinary voters for infringing the election law. 'Tuai Rumah' and their “anembiaks” should beware of this as both the givers and receivers are equally guilty under the law.

In MCAA we trust; it is the hope of the Opposition that the next State election will be run fairer, cleaner and smoother. - The Broken Shield

Wednesday, January 21

Revive role of Home Demonstrators to help rural economics

When prices of rubber, pepper and timber are down and prices of agriculture produce are up, and when many factories are closed down and workers forced to quit, what a better way is than to involve ourselves in agricultural activities. The decision of some 250 families in Kapit and 75 persons in Sarikei participating in a Bumi Hijau programme is not only a wise decision, but one that others should emulate.

While the programme is involved in the planting of vegetables around the house compound mainly for home consumption, extra produce can be sold to supplement household incomes. Under this programme the participants among others will enjoy subsidies of fertilizers, vegetable seeds, fish fry, chicks and other garden paraphernalia.

The Green Book programme introduced more than 30 years ago is being revived to reduce the rate of inflation by raising the people’s incomes through involvement in agriculture either as a part time or full time basis.

Through this programme the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has introduced a “kitchen farming” concept whereby households involve in vegetable farming, chicken and fish rearing in gardens of individual homes. Last year alone, the ministry had allocated RM20 million for the purchase and distribution of selected vegetable seedlings, fertilizers and manuals to all strata of society.

Sadly not many of our folks know about the existence of this scheme; perhaps there was little publicity or perhaps our so-called Dayak Yang Berhormats were ignorant or couldn’t be bothered about government policies that could benefit the Rakyat.

For us in Sarawak, the State government should go one step further to ensure the success of this “kitchen farming” concept by reviving the department of agriculture extension programme. Under this extension programme, Home Demonstrators (HDs) go to longhouses to teach Dayak women about home economics including advising them how to plant vegetables and fruit trees, the use of pesticides and fertilizers, how to make compost and to prune fruit trees, teach them sewing, cooking, handicrafts, cake making and healthy living, etc. Likewise, Junior Agriculture Assistants (JAAs) help their menfolk in maintaining their pepper or rubber gardens, chicken, sheep or cow rearing, etc.

This extension programme was actively carried out when Datuk Sri Daniel Tajem was Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Community Development from October 1980 to March 1987.

Working closely with the Home Demonstrators were members of the Women’s Institute resulting in many housewives establish cottage industries selling various kinds of handicrafts including “pua kumbu”.

But when Adenan Satem took over as Agriculture Minister and Community Development in mid-1987, the agriculture extension programme was discontinued, the monthly visits by Home Demonstrators were stopped, and the name of Home Demonstrators was changed to Community Development Assistants having entirely different duties.

Even Farmers Training Schools where the menfolk were trained to be progressive farmers were closed and now they become white elephants. Since then the home economics programme was left to disappear into thin air.

The Women’s Institute which was under the leadership of Rugayah Majid, wife of Abang Yusof Puteh also became dormant.

Could actions against all these institutions and programmes have something to do with the Ming Court Affair 1987 during which Permas (a Malay party) and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) were trying to topple Taib Mahmud’s government? Why were rural people, especially the housewives made to suffer due to political harassment and victimization?

However, for the Green Book programme to be effective, we must not play politics and deprive the rural women from playing an important role in economic development. Therefore it may be necessary as far as rural Sarawak is concerned to revive or activate the agriculture extension programme.

This is where the role of Home Demonstrators is not only an important tool towards enhancing home or rural economics, but one that helps produce healthy families that are essential in nation building efforts. – The Broken Shield


Sunday, January 18

KT by-election: a BIG eye-opener for Sarawakians!

Once again a candidate of Pas-Pakatan Rakyat (People’ Alliance), Abdul Wahid Endut has won in a by-election, the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election. About five months ago, Anwar Ibrahim of PKR-Pakatan Rakyat won the Permatang Pauh by-election.

The Pakatan’s victories at the two by-elections clearly show that the March 2008 elections were not a fluke, when Pakatan Rakyat comprising Pas, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Democratic Action Party (DAP) retained Kelantan, captured four States and reduced the two-third majority of BN in parliament.

The West Malaysians are fed-up with the BN government with its promises, its arrogance and with its supremacist policies. So the people really want change.

To us in Sarawak, which is about to witness the coming State election, the just concluded by-election is indeed a big eye-opener.

Despite hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of goodies and development projects handed over by the BN government to the people of Kuala Terengganu, yet they still voted for Pas-Pakatan Rakyat candidate.

This is the lesson for all of us, the voters, be you Dayaks, Malays or Chinese that we must learn from and follow the footsteps our fellow Malaysians in Terengganu: it is nothing wrong in accepting the BN goodies and projects, but vote for the Opposition. (Nadai tulah kitai). That is if we want change.

For the past 45 years we have been suffering and complaining: Chinese and Malay businessmen are robbed of their business opportunities, as businesses are only given to cronies of powers-that-be; the Malays and the Dayaks have their NCR land taken away and leased to giant companies for oil palm plantations, so much so that they do not have land to tilt; and some of Dayak villages and longhouses have been destroyed by these companies and others drowned due to the construction of dams, not one, but 12 dams; and how the people have suffered as a result of them being resettled in new areas. The people of Sungai Asap are a case in point.

This is a critical question before us: Do we want change or not? If we do not want change then we continue to elect Taib’s government and continue to suffer. If this is the case, then we must not complain; then we must allow the companies to encroach into our NCR land, and then we must not take the government and companies to court.

Don’t waste time and money. Take your rewards of RM20 or RM30 and MINOR rural development projects for voting them and with open arms welcome them and let them rape your land, destroy your properties and blur your children’s future.

But if we want change, then we must vote this land-grabbing government OUT and give Pakatan Rakyat a chance to govern the State. After all we have been suffering, suppressed, oppressed and marginalized for the past 45 years, and what is that if we are to suffer for another five years under Pakatan Rakyat if it is also equally bad like the BN government? Think about it. - The Broken Shield


Malaysian Dayak Congress to decide on party registration soon

Following a brief interview with BERNAMA yesterday, the following article was published in The New Straits Time Online, today 18 Jan 2009.
By: Caroline Jackson, BERNAMA

KUCHING, Sun.: The pro-tem committee members of the yet-to-be-registered Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) will decide soon whether to make a fresh application to the Registrar of Societies (ROS), its protem information chief Joseph Tawie said.

He said, alternatively, party members, comprising former Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak PBDS) members who remained partyless, could join Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) or other political parties in the state.

“We (MDC) have received a number of invitations to join the opposition but we are still holding on as we have yet to decide on the next course of action,” he told Bernama today.

The Home Ministry, in a letter dated April 9 last year, rejected MDC’s appeal to be registered as a political party on grounds that its registration could pose a threat to security and public order.

The pro-tem committee members had appealed against the ROS’ decision to the Home Minister in August 2006, after an application to register the MDC, submitted on May 6, 2004, was rejected on July 19, 2006.

Following the deregistration of PBDS on Oct 21, 2004, many of its 200,000 members opted to join its offshoot, the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), a state Barisan Nasional (BN) component party while “tens of thousands ex-PBDS members remained partyless,” Tawie said.

In the May 2006 state election, MDC candidates had to contest under the opposition Sarawak National Party (SNAP) tickets as its registration could not be approved on time. ROS, meanwhile, advised the applicants to submit a fresh application if they were still interested to pursue the MDC registration.

Thursday, January 15

Can coffee-shop politics bring change to Sarawak?

In the absence of "Ruai" (longhouse verandah) or Rumah Dayak in a city like Kuching, coffee shops have now become meeting places among the Dayaks to discuss issues particularly affecting the community.

Often seen at the “meetings” were pensioners, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and politicians. Sometimes civil servants including lecturers and teachers join the group during weekends and public holidays.

Two coffee shops in BDC Stampin, Kuching are the usual haunts which act more or less like a mini-parliament. In the morning they usually gather at A-One coffee shop with newspapers lying in front of them. The topics of the day will be centred on issues that appear in the morning’s papers especially issues of interests to the Dayaks. Divergent views are expressed. And the “debates” may last up to 12 noon when they go back for lunch.

In the afternoon session, they usually gather at Ah Leong from 5.00 pm and may last till 10.00 pm or even beyond.

Although they come from various shades of political and religious beliefs and from various Divisions, they listen to each other’s views with tolerance and patience. Their “professionalism” makes our debates in Council Negeri and Parliament pale in comparison.

Many of the things discussed are a reflection of true ground situation. For instance, their discussions on NCR land being grabbed by big companies and cronies of powers-that-be, the destroying of longhouses and fruit trees, the blockades, the arrests of NCR landowners, and political issues including the invasion by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to Sarawak’s rural areas, the weaknesses of Dayak leaders, the bullying tactics of Parti Bersatu Bumiputra (PBB) on weaker BN component parties, etc.

Perhaps out of curiosity one day one minister from PBB anxious to find out sent “spies” to these coffee shops to find out who are these people and he was surprised to see in the list the names of those who have held high offices in the government and in the corporate world.

Nothing much can he do, but he knows that these former civil servants who had served the government are turning against them and are crying for change. As pensioners, they have great influence over their relatives and friends in longhouses.

Coffee-shops politics as they are usually known have also become a common trend in Sarawak towns and cities where everyone shares his knowledge and exchanges his information with others and their views have influenced others leading to the electoral victories or defeats of candidates. It was because of this coffee-shop politics that Barisan Nasional lost its two-third majority in Parliament, failed to dislodge PAS in Kelantan and worst still lost four States to Pakatan Rakyat in the March 2008 elections.

Can coffee-shop politics bring change to Sarawak? - The Broken Shield


Tuesday, January 13

Unemployed local graduates are unhappy

The influx of 2,000 Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah (KPLI) teachers from West Malaysia into Sarawak is not only causing uneasiness to the people of Sarawak but it is also depriving thousands of local graduates of employment opportunities.

Under this KPLI scheme those graduating from ordinary degrees are compelled to attend a one-year diploma course before they can be recruited as teachers. But why preference is only given to West Malaysians?

Chairman of Baleh branch of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Dr. James Masing, has expressed concern over this new development. In a resolution passed during the branch AGM over the week-end in Kapit, Masing who is also the PRS president and Minister of Land Development called on the government to address the lack of employment opportunities for local graduates especially in the teaching profession.

“The people in Baleh are uneasy as the employment of teachers is mostly from outside Sarawak,” he was reported to have said. Of course Masing is worried as 313 of those teachers have been sent to 47 primary schools in Kapit division.

Not only parents in Kapit have felt uneasy and unhappy, but parents in other Divisions have also expressed similar sentiments. Their posting to Sarawak, as mentioned earlier will not only deprive our own graduates of employment opportunities, but will also affect the standard or the quality of education in the rural areas.

Educated mostly in the Malay medium, they do not in the first place choose the teaching profession and many of them in the past are known to have low determination and motivation.

Posting them to the interior areas of Sarawak especially in Kapit may not be a good idea, where rivers are the mainstay of communication, where accommodation may be a little bit better than chicken sheds, and where they may be cut off from the outside world. As strangers, they are sure to suffer from cultural shocks. Worst if they are unmarried lady teachers. All these will add to their woes.

And it will not be surprising if some of them are asking to be transferred back or leaving even before the year ends. It has happened in the past and it is going to happen in the future. And if this is going to be the case, not only the government will waste millions of ringgit in training and transferring them, but the performances of the rural pupils will also be affected. This is our main concern.

But on the other hand, it is also a good thing if more qualified West Malaysian teachers come to teach in Sarawak so that they can learn the various cultures of the local people, see how the Dayaks, the Malays and Chinese live harmoniously and respect each others’ religions and see the people of Sarawak display the highest degree of tolerance towards each other. At the same time our students will also benefit from qualified and experienced teachers.

Moreover, when these teachers return to their respective towns and villages, they will tell their relatives and friends that Sarawak, the Land of the Hornbills, are not bad after all and that Dayaks do not live on tree tops. – The Broken Shield


Saturday, January 10

Anwar’s message to the Dayaks ~ ref. Malaysiakini

De facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Anwar Ibrahim’s message to 5,000 people, the majority of them were Dayaks last night was loud and clear - if they wanted their NCR land back, then they must help Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) topple the State Barisan Nasional government.

“With your support we can change this government. But we must start now and must work very hard,” he said at a dinner at Mile 4 in Kuching. Anwar knew that Dayaks had suffered as a result of their NCR land being taken away by the State Government.

He assured that the problems involving the NCR land could be solved within six months if Pakatan Rakyat comprising PKR, DAP and PAS was to form the next State government.

“We will return the land to the people. This is my message to the people of Sarawak,” he said and added: “Look at Selangor. It has changed tremendously after Pakatan Rakyat under Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Menteri Besar. This is the reason I bring Khalid to Kuching tonight so that he can tell you about Selangor.”

Indeed land has become a major issue in every election in the State. But the sad thing is that it was not “hot” enough to win votes for the candidates who challenged the BN candidates in the rural areas. The reason was simple: the people were sweet-talked to vote for BN candidates in exchange for bounties. They were blinded by the “ang pow” of RM20 or RM30 in addition to minor rural development projects promised to them.

No doubt there is political tsunami brewing in West Malaysia after last March election. But for such a change to take place here in Sarawak, two things that need to be stressed here.

It is important for PKR to have quality candidates, candidates who have a cause to fight rather than “kaki lima” candidates who are only serving their own personal agenda as it is also equally important for Sarawakians especially Dayaks to know what they really want in the coming election: change this present government or remain being subordinated at least for the next five years. The choice is ours as voters. – The Broken Shield


Friday, January 9

Home Affairs Minister rejects MDC application

The Minister of Home Affairs has rejected the appeal of Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) to register it as a political party on grounds of security and public order.

In a letter dated 9 April 2008, signed by an official of the Ministry said that the Minister after a careful investigation and consideration has to reject the appeal to register Malaysian Dayak Congress.

“The appeal is rejected based on Section 7(3)(a) of the Societies Act 1966 on grounds that its registration can cause a threat to security and public order,” the official said in the letter.

However, if the applicants were still interested to pursue the MDC registration then they should submit a fresh application to the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

In revealing this today, Joseph Tawie, Protem Information Chief of Malaysian Dayak Congress said that the application to register MDC was submitted on 6 May 2004. The Registrar of Societies rejected it on security grounds under Section 7(3)(a) on 19 July 2006.

The protem committee on 12 August 2006 appealed against the decision of the Registrar to the Minister of Home Affairs.

“Now the Minister has rejected our appeal under the same Section,” said Tawie, who expressed deep regret over the decision of the minister.

Section 7 (3) says: “The Registrar shall refuse to register a local society where - (a) it appears to him that such local society is unlawful under the provisions of this Act or any other written law or is likely to be used for unlawful purposes or any purpose prejudicial to or incompatible with peace, welfare, security, public order, good order or morality in Malaysia;”

Tawie said the protem committee members will meet in the next few days whether to submit a fresh application or not.

But in the meantime two options are open to tens of thousands ex-PBDS members who have remained partyless since the deregistration of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) on 21 October 2004. (Before its deregistration PBDS had nearly 200,000 members.)

One is for them to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the other is to join any of the existing parties in the State.

Personally, I will call on the ex-PBDS members to find a leader and in a group let us all join PKR, hoping that one day PKR together with DAP and PAS will form not only the State government of Sarawak, but also the Federal government.

Only with a change of government can we change laws that are harmful to the Natives. - The Broken Shield

Thursday, January 8

The role of Tuai Rumah in Dayak politics

In the longhouse “administrative system”, a Tuai Rumah (headman) plays an important role - he is in fact the “everything” to the longhouse people. In the old days, he was the leader of “ngasu-beburu” (hunting), “bumai-bekebun” (farming) as well as a longhouse judge settling any quarrel between his followers.

Elected by the longhouse people to be their leader, the Tuai Rumah was highly respected; a man of high standing in society having deep knowledge of Iban Adat (Customs and Traditions) and his views were being sought after. Sometimes the post of Tuai Rumah was hereditary.

Today, the criteria for Tuai Rumah have changed; he must be educated at least up to Form Three, be pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) and not necessary having deep knowledge of Iban Adat (this he can learn from The Tusun Tunggu, a book containing all the customs, traditions, taboos, fines, etc.).

After being elected, his appointment must be endorsed by the government so that an allowance of RM450 per month can be given to him. His duties include being “eyes and ears” of the BN government, a judge, a law enforcer, tax collector, consultant, and chairman of JKKK (Village Security and Development Committee) through which government funds are being channeled.

During election times, he is much wanted by the BN parties. This has become very pronounced in the 2006 State and 2008 parliamentary elections.

Let me produce an account that has been written in the pages of “The Broken Shield Volume Two – The Dayak Dilemma” that is to be published very soon:

“In this 2006 election, the BN devised an entirely different campaign strategy, which caught the Opposition with their pants down. Previously the money was passed directly to the voters on the eve of polling. This time the distribution was done through their Tuai Rumah.

“Three days before polling all the headmen were summoned for a meeting, where they were coached to say something to their own people. And on their return to their respective longhouses, they were given some money that was to be shared with the voters of their own longhouses. In addition to this, there were also minor rural development projects that were promised to be implemented.

“The Tuai Rumah then called for a meeting of the longhouse folks and ordered them to vote for the Barisan Nasional candidates. Anyone who failed to follow his order or directive would not be given any share of the bounties or any project that the government had promised them. And he was also likely to be expelled from the longhouse.

“The Tuai Rumah must ensure that his followers must vote for the BN candidate, otherwise the BN candidate would report him to the District Officer, the Resident or the State Secretary. As Tuai Rumah is like a civil servant, action including the termination of his Tuai Rumahship could be taken against him. He might lose his monthly allowance of RM450 per month. And the promised minor rural development projects might be withdrawn.

“In Datuk Daniel Tajem’s constituency of Bukit Begunan, he was defeated by a man, Mong Dagang, whom he had picked to replace him in the 1996 state election. Tajem practically lost in all the longhouses in the five polling districts. Before the money came, many longhouse chiefs and their followers had pledged their support to him, who had represented them in six previous elections. After the distribution of money and the threats issued, everything changed; longhouse headmen, their followers and even Tajem’s own relatives voted against him. And a similar tale of vote buying had also been reported in other Dayak constituencies.”
Undoubtedly, money is power and the government has effectively used it as a "weapon" to intimidate the longhouse chiefs and their followers. And what makes it more frightening to the voters is the vote counting is done immediately after polling ends, revealing whether the voters from the longhouses voted for BN candidate or not.

Unless this system of counting is changed and the vote buying is curbed and the Tuai Rumah system is abolished, future elections will continue to be unfair to the Opposition candidates.

But the worst effect is that the system will create a government full of corrupted and dishonest elected representatives as well as inculcating into the people or voters a culture of corruption and a dishonest syndrome where money determines the election. – The Broken Shield


Sunday, January 4

Samarahan Division progresses, people remain poor!

Since its creation into the eighth administrative division of Sarawak in 1987, the Samarahan Division with an area of 4,967.4 square kilometers is one of the fastest growing regions in the State.

Its administrative headquarters, Kota Samarahan has been turned into a “Knowledge Centre”, where we find the sites of the University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), the University Institute Technology Mara (UiTM), the Tun Abdul Razak Teachers Training College, the Science and Technology Park, the Industrial Training Centre, the Public Health Laboratory and the Sarawak International Medical Centre.

Other plans for the division include a major agricultural centre through a massive Integrated Agricultural Development programme that involves the planting of the famous Simunjan rice or Gedong rice, coconut plantations, bananas, pineapples, oranges, and pepper, as well as turning the division into the hub of oil palm activities where some 67,760.4 hectares of land (roughly 169,401 acres) have been approved for the cultivation of oil palm.

Generally the division’s 204,900 population (2000 census) who are mostly Dayaks and Malays should be grateful to the Government for the various projects, but the planting of oil palm is of great concern to them. Out of 169,401 acres, the greater parts of these lands are being disputed as they claim that the lands are under their NCR land.

Syed Abu Bakar Almohdzar’s companies of Melur Gemilang Sdn Bhd and Kumpulan Kris Jati Sdn Bhd, both giving their address at Tingkat 13, Menara Tun Razak, Jalan Raja Laut, 50350, Kuala Lumpur have been given provisional lease to develop some 59,360 acres (23,744 hectares) for oil palm.

Kumpulan Kris Jati:

# 1093 hectares of land at Lot 166 Menuku land district at Sungai Tebelu Baru, Sebuyau approved in October 1997;

# 187 hectares at Lot 737 Sebangan-Kepayang land district at Bukit Pinang, Simunjan approved in October 1997;

# 463 hectares at Lot 738 Sebangan-Kepayang land district at Ulu Sg. Ladong, Simunjan approved in October 1997;

# 2281 hectares at Lot 739 Sebangan-Kepayang land district at Sg. Sediliu/Sg. Bentaga, Simunjan approved in October 1997;

# 2187 hectares at Lot 1223 Sediliu Gedong land district at Sg. Sediliu, Simunjan approved in October 1997;

# 1940 hectares at Lot 167 Menuku land district at Tg. Engkrepok, Sg. Sebuyau, Sebuyau approved in August 1998;

Melur Gemilang Sdn Bhd:

# 7493 hectares at Lot 1224 Sediliu-Gedong land district at Lubok Rasau, Sg. Simunjan, Simunjan approved in September 1999;

# 780 hectares at Lot 2978 Melikin land district at Sg. Simunjan Kanan, Simunjan approved in September 1999;

# 1650 hectares at Lot 1225 Sediliu-Gedong land district at Lubok Teba, Btg. Sadong, Gedong approved in June 2000;

# 250 hectares at Lot 2982 Melikin land district at Sg. Matan, Btg. Kerang, Gedong approved in April 2002;

# 4420 hectares at Lot 2983 Melikin land district at Sg. Simunjan Kanan, Simunjan approved in April 2002;

# 280 hectares at Lot 33 Punda-Sabal land district at Tg. Stigang, Sg. Simunjan, Simunjan approved in June 2000;

# 720 hectares at Lot 34 Punda-Sabal land district at Sg. Simunjan Kanan, Simunjan approved in June 2000.

Another big player in the oil palm business in Samarahan Division is Robert Geneid, the Chief Minister’s brother- in-law. Geneid’s company of Lambang Sinar Mas Sdn Bhd has been given 40,000 acres (16,000 hectares) and the details are as follows:

# 980 hectares at Lot 1 Muara Tuang land district at Ulu Sungai Sampun, Samarahan approved in May 2004;

# 5620 hectares at Lot 886 Samarahan land district at Sungai Ensengai, Samarahan approved in May 2004;

# 670 hectares at Lot 887 Samarahan land district at Sungai Ensengai, Samarahan approved in May 2004;

# 5010 hectares at Lot 1230 Sediliu;Gedong land district at Ulu Sungai Ensengai, Samarahan approved in May 2004; and

# 3720 hectares at Lot 1509 Bukar Sadong land district at Ulu Sungai Ensengai, Samarahan approved in May 2004.

As I mentioned earlier in posting, YB Naroden Majais was also a major owner of oil palm in Simunjan with acreage of 16,486 hectares.

Together the companies owned by the three persons (Naroden, Geneid and Syed Abu Bakar) own some 56,230 hectares of land under oil palm contributing to about 90% of the total acreage approved for the Division up to the third quarter of 2005.

Plans are also afoot to build the Sadong Bridge and roads in order to link major areas like Sebuyau, Sebangan, Simunjan and Serian with Kuching and other towns. And no area in Sarawak has undergone as much transformation through development as Samarahan Division in the last three decades.

However, in spite of all these developments, the rural dwellers especially the Malays and Dayaks in the kampongs and longhouses have remained poor and are struggling to make ends meet with their traditional farming, while the few BN leaders and their cronies are becoming richer and richer.

It is indeed very sad as the Natives appear to be standing on the roadsides, as development passes by. - The Broken Shield