Wednesday, April 29

Jabu under fire over NCR scheme ~ Malaysiakini

Taken from

By Tony Thien Apr 28, 09 12:38pm

A Miri-based Dayak NGO has taken Sarawak's most senior Dayak minister Alfred Jabu to task for 'once again shortchanging the community' through one of the state government's most praised native customary land development schemes’ commonly known as 'konsep baru' or new concept.

It cited the latest incident which involved the Iban communities from Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong situated at Ulu Niah, Miri Division.

Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas) executive director Mark Bujang said last Thursday, Jabu (right) handed out a total of RM436,708.20 in dividends and bonuses to 226 participants of the Ulu Niah NCR Joint Venture Project.

At first glance, he said, the total amount seems reasonable if the payment of dividends and bonuses are for the year 2008, but upon checking with the participants, it was learnt that this is the first time in 10 years that the JV project has paid out dividends or bonuses.

“If we were to make the assumption that the dividends and bonuses are divided equally among the scheme participants, each participant would receive about RM1,932,” he added.

Divide that by 10 years, he said, each participant would only get RM193 per year. This, he added, is a far cry from the government's promise that the scheme would uplift the socio-economic status of the Dayaks.
Snek Bagat, one of the residents of Rumah Ranggong, said: "I was looking forward to receiving the dividends and bonuses from our investment (in the JV project). But I was shocked to find out that our investment only yielded 50 cents per month after 10 years. Not enough to buy a cup of coffee."
Why the sudden need to do so?
Meanwhile, Bujang questioned the need to hand out dividends and bonuses after 10 years. "Why does the government and the JV company have a sudden interest with the NCR landowners after they have been neglected all these while?"
"Is it because that the community of Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong are suing the private investor BLD Resources Sdn. Bhd. for not keeping its end of the bargain?" he asked.
Previously, in 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between BLD Sdn. Bhd (sister company of BLD Resources), Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) and the NCR landowners at Ulu Niah, where Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong were the participating longhouses, to develop the Ulu Niah NCR land based on the ‘konsep baru’ scheme.
Jabu and the then Sarawak Minister for Housing Celestine Ujang handed out the 10 percent upfront payment worth RM294,990 in 2001.
However, in 2008, a resident of Rumah Ranggong, Changgai Dali was sued by BLD Resources for allegedly trespassing into BLD’s plantation. When Changgai and his longhouse folks disputed this they discovered to their horror that their NCR JV project was cancelled - reason given was the government made a mistake saying the land is NCR.
Commenting on the dividends and bonuses received, Changgai said: "We thank Jabu for handing out the dividends and bonuses to us, but we are not happy with the amount."
"How come after all these years, this is all we get? Jabu not once mentioned the status of our land during the ceremony. When I asked Jabu if he could withdraw the provisional lease of the company, he replied that he does not have the authority," he added.
Problems in other schemes
In another case, Jabu also handed out dividends amounting to RM52 million to 16,480 participants for the year 2008 in another NCR land development scheme managed by another state government agency, the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra), where Jabu is also its chairman.
According to an article sourced from a blogsite,, Salcra should have netted profits amounting to RM292 million for 2008 taking into account the price of oil palm that year. Jabu announced that another RM22 million had been set aside for loan repayments.
The article went on to say that the net balance after dividends and loan repayments should have amounted to RM218 million, or RM13,240 per participant.
The article questioned Salcra on where the balance of the money went. The article went on to state that even if 50 percent is withheld to allow for reinvestment and replanting, that would still amount to RM109 million or RM6,620 per participant to be accounted for.
In another NCR JV scheme in Suai, Miri Division, the Penans from Kampung Ugos threatened to withdraw from the said scheme launched by Jabu himself in 1998 if the state government agency the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) did not disclose transparently the official documents, records, JV agreements and statement of accounts of the company.

The Penans also complained that they do not know how SLDB arrived at the amount of dividends paid which is exactly RM500,000 and they do not know which private investor company is in the JV. Some of the scheme participants have died not knowing what will happen to their land and their investment.

Monday, April 27

All money goes to Mukah

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has announced that works on the new Mukah Airport worth RM200 million are to start immediately. The money is part of the RM2 billion given by the federal government for various development projects under the nine Malaysia plan (9MP).

Sited between Mukah and Oya, the airport once completed is one that can be used by Boeing 737.

Taib was speaking at the earth-breaking ceremony for the new government complex at Service Road which is to be built adjacent to the Pehin Palace – Wisma Pehin Setia Raja which was built for hundreds of million ringgit.

The main office building which is going to be five-storey high and six-storey at the central part will house the district office, state government departments, Sesco office and the office of Regional Corridor Development Authority (RECODA). The government did not announce the costs of the office buildings, but I believe the costs must be tremendous.

But what about the coal-driven power station costing about RM800 million? And why using coal when we are building 12 dams to supply electricity? (There are plenty of coal deposits in Nanga Merit, Kapit. But who benefit?)

According to Taib, the government needs at least RM60 billion to develop Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy (SCORE). But the amount is small, he said, compared to the more than RM300 billion worth of foreign and private investments.

All the money given by the federal government goes to Mukah leaving none for other divisions such as Kapit which needs a trunk road very badly and urgently. Kapit people have been waiting for 45 years for the road to be constructed linking the town with other towns such as Song, Kanowit, Sibu, Sarikei and so on.

Don’t you think Kapit should also be given priority? - The Broken Shield

Saturday, April 25

Taib in a quandary over Sng's cabinet position ~ Malaysiakini

With Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s cabinet reshuffle imminent, focus is on Larry Sng, an assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Department and assistant minister of industrial development, who has been ‘party-less’ since April last year.

Is Taib going to retain or drop him? That is the question many people, especially members of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), are pondering.

Sng was expelled from PRS after a leadership crisis which began in May 2006 and which led to the election of two presidents in the party with two sets of supreme councils and two headquarters.

While Sng was ‘elected’ to be president of one faction, James Masing, on the other hand, was ‘elected’ to head the other faction by his own supporters.

Sng (pic above) had a promising career with PRS, holding a senior post in the party when it was formed following the de-registration of the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in 2004.

Elected at the Iban-majority Pelagus constituency on a PBDS ticket on his first electoral outing in 2002, Sng was then appointed assistant minister two years later at the tender age of 25 in a cabinet reshuffle.

It is known that he was strongly recommended to the chief minister by Masing in order to show his (Masing’s) gratitude to Larry’s father Sng Chee Hua, who together with Masing successfully de-registered PBDS to form PRS.

Sng’s appointment as assistant minister by-passed some of the most senior state assembly persons in the party.

Will Taib entertain Masing’s request?

But the fall-out began when the young and ambitious Sng challenged Masing for the top post of the Dayak-based PRS, a move considered by observers to be Sng’s biggest mistake.

Sensing a threat to his leadership, Masing then expelled Sng’s men from the party in order to curtail his influence.

The expulsion of party secretary-general Sidi Munan, deputy publicity chief Earnest Chua and supreme council member Sng Chee Beng, plus the ‘reassignment’ of Sng himself from deputy secretary-general to publicity chief triggered the protracted leadership crisis in the party.

One effect of the expulsions was that the party split down the middle with each faction ‘electing’ their own presidents both with their own supreme councils and party headquarters. The two protagonists proceeded to accuse each other of conducting party affairs illegally.

The problem was more or less solved when the Registrar of Societies on April 1 last year recognised Masing’s power under the party’s constitution to hire and fire officials and office -bearers. Sng and members of his faction were then expelled.

In the latest development, Masing (pic below) yesterday wrote to the chief minister to officially inform him that Sng was no longer a PRS member and that he should be replaced by another state assemblyperson from the party in the cabinet.

Masing’s request has placed Taib in a quandary although it is the chief minister’s prerogative to select any one to be in his cabinet.

Will Taib entertain Masing’s request? To not do so would mean that Taib does not regard PRS as an important partner in the state BN coalition and already there are grumbles in PRS that Taib is ‘bullying’ the party.

Drop Sng, and Taib will have to incur the wrath of Sng’s rich and famous father-in-law, Ting Phek Khiing, who is also Taib’s close ally.

Keeping a low profile

But nobody knows what game is Taib is playing. Seemingly, Masing has an advantage as he has seven state assembly persons and six parliamentarians with him.

Looking at the matter from this perspective explains why the promised cabinet reshuffle has been delayed a number of times, generating more interest along the way not only in PRS, but also among the Dayak community as they speculate on Taib’s next move.

Many think that Taib may not carry out the reshuffle although there are a number of vacancies which have yet to be filled especially after Sarawak United People’s Party’s (Supp) two assistant ministers were defeated in the 2006 state election.

The best solution for Taib, observers say, would be to carry on as usual until the next state election due in mid- 2011 or earlier. This way, he neither pleases nor incurs the wrath of anyone.

Sng, meanwhile, is keeping a low profile and concentrating on discharging his duties. He refuses to comment on rumours that he may join Supp soon.

On his political future, he will leave it to the chief minister. “I am not a fortune-teller so I don’t think I have business telling the future,” he said.

“There are a lot of things to do and serving the people is my priority now. I intend to continue serving the people until the people think that there are better people to serve them and their interests.”


It has been brought to my attention that my name and email ( have been used by certain people to solicit for funds or donations.

I have nothing to do with it, so please ignore it.

Joseph Tawie
24 April 2009

Friday, April 24

Prove the land is yours, says Awang Tengah

Awang Tengah says that the government is recognizing native customary rights (NCR) lands as long as the landowners can come up with proof or evidence and the piece of land fulfills the existing land conditions.

“The evidence and conditions must be based on the research and record kept by Land and Survey Department,” the second minister of planning and resource management said.

He cited an agricultural development project purportedly to be implemented on the site where a longhouse, Rumah Chang in Niah, had been built.

Certainly we can prove that land belongs to the landowners based on the following pieces of evidence :-

>> The existence of pendam tuai (old graves) before 1 January 1958;

>> The existence of tembawai ( the sites where longhouses had been built) before 1 January 1958;

>> The existence of fruit trees, rambutan, durian, engkabang, rubber trees, (some of these trees are more than 100 years old);

>> The owners have been farming the land from generation to generation even during the Brooke regime (Tuai Rumah and Penghulu can bear witness. But the problem is that the Tuai Rumah and Penghulu have been warned by the government not to simply endorse such land as NCR land belonging to a certain person. The other problem with Tuai Rumah is that a number of them have become land brokers for certain YBs as in the case of Bau and in Lundu);

>>“Pemakai menoa” and “Pulau Galau” have now been declared by the Federal Court as part of NCR land and can be used as evidence of the existence of NCR land.

It must be admitted that it is not easy to reconcile our proofs with the evidence and conditions on the research and record kept by the Land and Survey Department.

>> Firstly, the department, if it is against us, will say that there is no evidence or record kept by them.

>> Secondly, the department may erase the evidence and record, so we will still lose to them.

From now on, we should wherever possible survey our own land using the GPS (Global Positioning System) and submit the surveyed land to the Land and Survey Department.

Although the government does not recognize it, we have at least a piece of evidence and the Court, however, recognizes our rights in the land. – The Broken Shield

Where are Your YBs?

According to The Borneo Post on 22 April, families from landslide-affected Rumah Ali, Kerangan Tinggi in Krian Saratok which occurred early this year are disappointed that the relevant authorities have yet to respond to their plight.

One of the victims, Andrew Unjah, 51, three months after the disaster which damaged their properties, they had yet to receive any assistance from the authorities nor hear any news from them.

According to him, the landslide which occurred on the night of January 11 had brought down his toilet, generator shed and fuel storage. His brother-in-law Mathew Handary was also a victim who received a harder blow as his “bilik” was located at the end of the nine-door longhouse. The second landslide occurred on the morning of January 29.

Mathew had lodged a report of the incident at the Saratok Police Station. His loss was about RM2,000, while Andrew’s was RM500. After being informed, the district officer visited the damaged longhouse. The JKKK officially wrote to the district officer who in turn wrote to the Betong Divisional Disaster Committee with copies to the Betong Resident, Divisional engineer and the welfare department.

Top leaders at federal and state levels had been sympathetic to the victims of calamities, yet it was disappointing to note that the agencies in the division entrusted to look after their welfare had failed to translate their concern into action. But where is Peter Nyarok, Krian State assemblyman or Jelaing Meresat, the Saratok MP?

Why? The question can easily be answered. Usually if victims of calamities are supporters of Barisan Nasional, the BN leaders are all out to visit the scene and bring goodies and other assistance. I can assure you the first to visit will be deputy chief minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang especially if the area is in a PBB constituency. Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Abang Johari, George Chan and the YB in the particular area will visit them.

But if you are perceived to be supporters of opposition, the BN will ignore you. Unless and when there is a by-election as in the case of the recently concluded Batang Ai by-election when they will bring gunny sacks of money, make promises of development and beg you to support the BN.

They will bring bulldozers and appear to be busy doing some road works, and on the day when polling begins, they start to pull their bulldozers out of the area (this we saw in Batang Ai).

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has reminded BN leaders that political rhetoric could erode public confidence. He said that the people would be most unhappy if what were promised to them were not fulfilled.

Speaking in Johor Bahru, Najib said: “If we make a certain promise, we must deliver the promise and our administration will ensure that the people’s aspirations are met in the best possible way.” Very nice to hear, but will our BN leaders in Sarawak listen to Najib?The Broken Shield

Tuesday, April 21

Turmoil in Dayak longhouses ~ Malaysiakini

The politicalisation of Dayak institutions have caused a major split in the Iban community, claimed Nicholas Mujah, secretary-general of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia).

“The politicalisation of (the posts of) tuai rumah (longhouse chiefs) and penghulu - who these days are being appointed by politicians or political parties - is causing a big split in the longhouses,"
said Mujah .

“Previously, the selection of tuai rumah and penghulu was by the people, for the people and of the people. Unless Iban customs are upheld, there will be no unity (in the community).
”Mujah was responding to comments by Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing who had said that politics within the Dayak community, particularly in the rural areas, has been “fluid until now because there is lack of the smart factor”.

Masing said this is evident among the rural Dayaks whose political stand is seldom firm. He urged educated and intellectual Dayaks to help educate the members of the community, so that they are not manipulated by others.
He claimed that some Dayaks intellectuals are going to the longhouses to incite the people to reject government policies, adding that their campaign of hatred has caused the Dayaks to be further fragmented in politics.
Mujah responded: “I am happy that Masing has realised the weaknesses of the Dayak leaders. The most important thing is that Masing and his group of Dayak leaders can rectify these weaknesses and go back to basics to learn from history.
“I refer in particular to the land (code) amendment in 2000. Despite knowing that the amendment would disadvantage the Dayaks, none of the Dayak legislators dared to oppose it or even felt concerned.”
Mujah rejected Masing’s accusation that Dayak intellectuals are inciting the people to turn against the government.
“I do not agree. I can say that these Dayak intellectuals are only advising their parents not to be cheated another time,” he said.
People confused
Commenting on the same issue, Sarawak Dayak National Union publicity officer John Anthony Brian said the rural people are confused as they cannot distinguish truth from propaganda.They did not know who to trust as some politicians do not tell the whole truth, he said. And because of conflicting statements, the people tend to be sceptical.

Citing the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) as an example, Brain said certain politicians have claimed that Salcra provides many benefits to those participating in the land schemes. However, many have received only RM8 per day or very small dividends per year, he claimed.
Brian, who runs the Dayak website, said: “The Dayaks want to see things happen in their area and want the government to deliver its promises. They have heard so many promises. As far as the people of Batang Ai are concerned, they have kicked the ball back to the government (to deliver its pledge of development projects).”

Lawyer and politician Baru Bian said the notion of being politically ‘smart’ is a subjective one.“I don’t think I subscribe to political smartness for the sake of political survival. I prefer correctness. But anyway (Masing) is wrong - as if Dayak leaders are not smart. They are!” he added.

Sunday, April 19

News and Views: Land seminar

A two-day land policy and administration seminar is to be held at Parkcity Everly Hotel in Bintulu starting on 21 April. To be attended by some 400 participants consisting of Barisan Nasional politicians, Senators, civil servants and community leaders, it will aim to clarify common issues, rid suspicion and public confusion.

Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, second planning and resource management minister says it is equally important to enhance the understanding of BN politicians, civil servants and community leaders on land policy and administration.

Suspicion and confusion among the people, especially those in the rural areas, arose when interested parties exploited their lack of understanding and knowledge on land policy and administration. And the situation is made worse when the politicians, community leaders and civil servants fail to explain the policy satisfactorily to the people, Awang says.

He admits that half of the people do not understand some land policies and administration, and this has contributed to suspicion and confusion. Because of this the public are kept in the dark especially when their lack of understanding is exploited by certain quarters.

Six papers will be presented at the seminar: Roles and responsibilities of ministry of planning and resource management: An overview of land administration and policy in Sarawak; The new concept of development on native customary rights (NCR) land: Approaches and strategies; Evolution of land policy: Transforming the landscape of Sarawak; Laws and regulations governing land administration and policy in Sarawak; Native customary rights (NCR): Recognition, status, dealings, extinguishment and compensation; and the forests (planted forests) rules 1997.

It is sad that Awang Tengah does not want Suhakam, Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) and other non-governmental associations (NGOs) to attend the seminar. If the government is sincere and has nothing to hide, why are these organisations being excluded? After all these are the organisations that always give the government a headache, as they, perhaps, “lack” understanding of the government’s policy and administration on land especially on NCR land.

But on the other hand, why invite community leaders like Tuai Rumahs as many of them barely know how to read and write, let alone understand the complex issues of NCR land administration? What we want is for some of the Dayak lawyers to attend the seminar so that they will be fully knowledgeable on land laws, regulations and policies.

Excluding these people can mean the government has an ulterior motive. We want to know why there is a need to keep on amending the Land Code and each time the amendment has serious legal implications on NCR land owners.

Since 1997, several amendments have been made, and the most damaging one was made in May 2000 with regard to Section 5 of the Land Code. Since this amendment, the NCR land owners have been criminalized for owning and defending their land. Many have been thrown into prison. Some have brought their cases to court. Up to this day, there are nearly 200 cases of land owners suing the government and companies for taking away and encroaching into their NCR land.

We know that this seminar is to tell the seminar participants the government’s side of the story. Perhaps the BN leaders have felt that they could not answer so many questions on NCR land issues during the recently concluded Batang Ai by-election, as they lacked understanding. Or perhaps the BN leaders are preparing for the answers for the coming State election?

Any way I would like to ask the following questions: Are we (including the Dayak politicians in BN, the Dayak civil servants and Dayak lawyers) going to stand idle when our parents’ and grand parents’ NRC land are being taken away and being sold to big companies for oil palm plantations? Are we? Don’t you feel sorry for your parents and grandparents who have been owning and farming the land for generations suddenly find their NCR land are being taken away by companies? – The Broken Shield

Saturday, April 18

News and Views: Crab and snail mentality

Henry Harry Jinep, a Bidayuh intellectual and entrepreneur, spoke of crab mentality among the Bidayuhs, saying that the Bidayuhs had no one to blame, but their crab mentality of pulling down those on top when they lost a representation in the federal cabinet.

The community lost a federal cabinet post of deputy minister when Tiki Lafe was not reappointed as a result of the ”community’s internal politicking to pull him down.”

The politicking against Tiki was so bad to the extent that Barisan Nasional leaders feared the community was heading towards disintegration with leaders going separate directions.

“From the first day that Tiki was made a deputy minister, there was a lot of politicking to pull him down or to ensure that he would not go up again,” he said.

The crab mentality reminds me of a woman selling two types of snails in a market. A man came enquiring what was the woman selling. Replying the woman said she was selling snails. The man looked into an open pail and asked what was inside the other pail that was covered. The woman said both pails contained snails. Curious the man asked again why she needed to cover the pail.

The woman said that she was selling two types of snails. The one side the covered pail was the “town” snails and it must be covered, because if one of the snails escaped, it would pull up the rest so that they all would escape. The other pail was open, because if one snail tried to escape, the rest would pull it down, so that nobody would escape.

Is there any similarity to the crab mentality of the Bidayuhs as mentioned by Henry Harry Jinep?

Financial grants to small-scale pepper cultivation

The Ministry of Plantation, Industries and Commodity has allocated a grant of RM4.09 million to encourage pepper cultivation among small-scale farmers in Sibu, Kanowit and Selangau.

The allocation has been channeled through the productivity and income enhancement programme for pepper smallholders, said Nangka Awang Bemee Awang Ali Basah.

He was speaking at the launch of a three-day pepper production and marketing technology course in Sibu. Forty participants from Sibu attended the course organized by the Malaysian Pepper Board Sibu branch.

Due to low prices of pepper and high costs of production, Sarawak has slipped into fourth position in the production of pepper in the world after Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia. Decades ago Sarawak occupied top position.

In order to stimulate the pepper industry the Ministry of Plantation, Industries and Commodity should extend such grants to farmers in other division, so that Sarawak farmers can produce from the current production of 4,000 to 10,000 metric tonnes by 2020.

We know in the past the government did not really care about the problems faced by the farmers otherwise Sarawak would not have fallen into poor fourth position. Incentives should have been given as the government did to oil palm smallholders.

It is suggested that the government should buy back both black and white pepper say at RM700 per ton for black and RM1200 per ton for white. In this way the pepper prices will not only be stabilized but will not go down below the government prices.

But has the government the political will to do it? – The Broken Shield
(See SNAP story from Malaysiakini below)

Snap at it again: No 2 vs No 1

The latest crisis in the Sarawak National Party (Snap) is reaching a point of no return with Ting Ling Kiew, its deputy president, threatening to sue the party leadership if they pursue with their show-cause letter against him.

“I have not received the letter and I do not know what the contents and the allegations against me,” he said when contacted today.

“Tell them, they should withdraw the show-cause letter. Otherwise they will feel sorry for their actions. Don’t play with me. I will sue them,” he warned.

Ting accused Edwin Dundang, Snap president and Stanley Jugol, its secretary general, of not following procedures when they called an emergency meeting to discuss the show-cause letter, alleging that there was no notice of meeting and there were no text messages to the members.

“How can they do this?” he asked.

Snap had sent the show-cause letter to Ting and Augustine Sating, appointed vice- president and a CEC member.

It is understood that the allegation against Ting was that he was 'selling' the party to the Barisan Nasional when he met the newly elected Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak early this month. He did not consult the CEC members.

For Sating, he was given the show-cause letter because he campaigned for the BN candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh against Jawah Gerang of PKR during the Batang Ai by-election. The Snap leadership had earlier declared its solidarity with Pakatan Rakyat and PKR.

The show-cause letters which give them 30 days to reply will expire on May 6 . But sources close to the party leadership did not expect the duo to reply to the show-cause letters.

It is said that the dispute in the party started to flare up when Dundang and his deputy Ting did not see eye to eye on the Batang Ai by-election. While Ting wanted Snap to contest the by-election, Dundang and Jugol insisted on supporting the PKR candidate Jawah Gerang.

Disagreement over Batang Ai

According to Ting, he was directed by the president to form a committee to gauge whether the party should contest in the by-election.

“After I formed the committee, suddenly I found out that the president and secretary-general threw their support to PKR and Jawah and insisted that Snap would not be contesting” he said.
Ting said he was furious that Snap had aligned itself with PKR as he saw no future for the party in PKR and called for an emergency CEC meeting. According to him, all members attended, except Dundang and Jugol, as they were campaigning for Jawah in Batang Ai.

The meeting agreed that Ting should see the newly elected Umno president and convey the party’s support for his leadership.

Ting had said that he did this for the love of the party. “We want to save the party and we don’t want to leave the BN.”

He also sought Najib’s help to resolve Snap’s problem with the Registrar of Societies which had de-registered the party on November 5, 2002. Snap has been granted a stay of execution pending an appeal.

In 2002, the party faced a similar leadership crisis between the then president James Wong and his deputy Peter Tinggom and eight other CEC members, resulting in the de-registration of the party and the formation of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party now led by William Mawan.

In 1983, Snap faced its first major leadership crisis, also involving the then president James Wong and a team of Dayak leaders, led by Leo Moggie and Daniel Tajem. Moggie fought Wong for the party’s presidency but lost. Together with Tajem, Moggie founded Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak the same year.

Virtually reduced to a skeleton today, the party which can take pride in producing Sarawak’s first chief minister Stephen Kalong Nngkan is slipping further down the road of oblivion.

Friday, April 17

News and Views: Late registration of birth certificate

Sarawak Government will be recommending for flexibility in cases of late registration of Malaysians born in the rural areas. This proposal will be made to the federal government soon, said Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said that the period for registration of birth and death is within 15 to 42 days and after that period it will be termed as late registration.

“Some flexibility should be given to rural folk because of the difficulties contributed by communication problem and geography,” he said and pointed out that the short period for registration was the root cause of late registration in most cases that involved rural folk previously.

Taib’s suggestion is commendable and we should all support it especially our Dayak Yang Berhormats because such a proposal is good for the rural people especially the Dayaks who live in the interior inaccessible by roads.

In order to ease the problems confronted by the rural dwellers, there should be established a rural clinic (klinik desa) to cater for a number of longhouses as in the case of primary schools.

And apart from treating the sick, nurses, midwives or hospital assistants should also help record the particulars of babies born and then remind the parents the importance of forwarding those particulars to the National registration for birth certificates.

Our YBs, if they are really concerned and care for their constituents, should open a number of service centres not only for political purposes but also to provide assistance to the people including helping them in getting birth certificates for their children.

Others who can help our rural people are teachers, Penghulus and Tuai Rumahs. If everybody is contributing towards this cause, the problems for them to get birth certificates for their children will be minimized.

State Cabinet reshuffle long over due

The State cabinet should have been reshuffled soon after the 2006 State elections to fill some vacancies as a result of some assistant ministers defeated in the election.

Chief Minster Abdul Taib Mahmud promised to fill the vacancies, but until today he is yet to do so.

However in July last year he had a minor reshuffle which involved in the re-assignment of portfolios of ministers and assistant ministers. Some of the ministers and assistant ministers hold two or three portfolios.

But one of particular interest is the continued retention of Larry Sng as an assistant minister.

From what we know he is no longer a member of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) following his expulsion from the party. Although he is partyless, he is still being retained as an assistant minister.

Under the present set-up PRS has one full minister and two assistant ministers. Legally speaking PRS has no assistant minister now after the expulsion of Larry Sng and the death of Dublin Unting.

Will Taib replace Larry Sng in the coming Cabinet reshuffle due any time now and appoint other PRS state assemblymen or retain him? Any bet? - The Broken Shield

(See also Malaysiakini below)
PKR to select leaders of 'stranded' S'wak division
Sarawak PKR will meet soon to select new leaders for its Julau division following the resignation of several of its key leaders during the Batang Ai by-election.

The division was left ‘stranded’ when its chairperson, Ambrose Labang, his deputy Wong Kee Kai, secretary Kajang Unan and a committee member Kundi Untung, left the party.

And they did not leave in a friendly manner – they came out with their guns blazing at PKR leaders as they campaigned vigorously for the BN candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh.

Labang’s resignation two days before polling on April 7 in the presence of Joseph Salang, PRS information chief at the BN operations centre in Batang Ai was said to have caused devastating effects on PKR chances in the by-election.

“I have decided to leave PKR because the party will never be able to carry out development programmes or help the people in the rural areas.

“The people in the rural areas still need the BN government and as such they should not waste their time with PKR anymore,” he had said and called on voters of Batang Ai to support the BN. Labang was in PKR for two years.

BN made full use of Labang as the main speaker in their campaign especially in the opposition’s strongholds where he told the voters the “true” picture of PKR.

Even Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud warmly welcomed Labang and his friends, describing the change of heart of PKR members as a positive sign for the coalition in the Batang Ai by-election.

Many people to take over

Jawah lost badly even in areas believed to be the stronghold of the opposition; he won only in four polling districts out of a total of 26 securing 2053 votes compared to 3907 obtained by Mussen.

But Kuching PKR chairperson Dominique Ng was not worried with the situation in Julau, saying that “we have many people who can take over and who are strongly committed to bring about change not only in Julau, but also in Sarawak.”

He described the resignation of the former Julau PKR leaders as “good riddance to bad rubbish.

Julau division is one of 13 PKR divisions that have been registered with the Registrar of Societies. The others are Kuching, Stampin, Petrajaya, Santubong, Serian, Baram, Sarikei, Sibu, Miri, Bintulu, Batang Sadong and Kota Samarahan.

Ng said the party hopes to register PKR divisions in all the 71 state constituencies before the next state election,” said Ng who is the state assemblyperson for Padungan.

Meanwhile, Malaysians for free and fair election (Mafrel) is expected to return to Lubok Antu this weekend to gather more information on the conduct of the Batang Ai by-election held on April 7 before finalising its reports.

“There are certain issues which are not very clear and we have to go back to Batang Ai to seek further clarifications,” said Peter John Jaban, Mafrel head for the Batang Ai by-election.

The reports which must be supported by facts and photographs should be ready in two weeks’ time, he said.

Thursday, April 16

News and Views

1. Jabu’s outbursts make a fool of himself

Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) deputy president Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang made a fool of himself yesterday (14 April) when reporters asked him to comment on the exclusion of Bidayuhs in the newly formed cabinet of prime minister Najib Tun Razak.

According to The Borneo Post, Jabu who is also deputy chief minister, not only refused to comment but lost his cool, hitting out at the media in rather strange outbursts.

“You (media) make your own opinion. You make your own opinion on that ….I don’t know who you represent but report (that I said) we don’t want to live in trees, we don’t to “mesyuarat” (hold meetings) underneath a tree. You can report that I told Menteri Besar of Selangor we can give him drinks but not votes.

“You make your own opinion. You may not represent the same party that I believe in. You make your own opinion. I don’t know which party you belong to, but you don’t have to disclose that to me. Or which party you sympathize with. You don’t have to disclose that to me either. We deliver,” he said.

“Are you a member of PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat)?” he questioned Zora Chan.

Zora who asked Jabu a simple question whether he would like to comment on James Dawos Mambong MP that the Bidayuhs had been excluded again in the federal cabinet. Zora and other reporters present were shocked. Never heard such angry remarks coming from a minister.

Few people including a number of ministers and YBs telephoned reporters trying to find out what triggered Jabu’s outbursts. No one could explain as they never saw Jabu behaving like that before.

We know that the Ibans generally do not regard him as their “paramount” leader, and has turned to Bidayuhs and orang Ulu to be their advisors.

Was he angry with the Mambong MP for making that statement without consulting him? Or is he suffering from an old age? But whatever is the reason, one thing is obvious that he is making a fool of himself. Hopefully his behaviour does not reflect the behaviour of the Dayak people.

2. Rumblings from Sarawak

It appears that every community is unhappy with the cabinet line-up of the prime minister Najib Tun Razak. First we heard of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) which wanted to pull out of the Cabinet as MIC was not given an extra cabinet post.

In Sarawak we heard that the Bidayuh community was also not satisfied when one of the three MPs the community has not been included in the cabinet.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) also expressed dismay that its Bidayuh MP Richard Riot was excluded in the cabinet.

According to sources, SUPP actually did not really recommend the MP; it merely submitted that it has six MPs – one full minister and two others deputy. Its quota is completed. In order words, SUPP recommended Riot for a none-existent post.

The Malay community in Sarawak is also unhappy as it is not represented by a full-fledged minister. Currently it is being represented by three deputy ministers. The last minister representing the community was Adenan Satem. The community used to have two full ministers.

Only the Iban community does not complain. It is the Iban tradition never to complain and accepts whatever is given. The Ibans feel “malu” (ashamed) to ask and that explains why in Iban constituencies there is not much development. And it also explains that not many Ibans are becoming millionaires.

Currently the community has one full minister in the person of Douglas Uggah from PBB and has three deputy ministers – Joseph Salang and Joseph Entulu (PRS) and Jelaing Mersat (SPDP).

In the days of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and later Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), the Iban community had two ministers – Leo Moggie (PBDS) and Tun Jugah anak Barieng (PBB). – The Broken Shield

(See also Malaysiakini on the same topic below)
Rumblings in S'wak over Najib's cabinet
Newly-appointed deputy minister Joseph Salang Gandum has quashed talk that he is unhappy about not being made a full minister in the week-old cabinet of premier Najib Abdul Razak. However, he has a little more to say on the subject of Sarawak's representation at federal level.

“Personally I have no reason to be unhappy. If there is any disappointment it is because of the low representation of Sarawak at cabinet level, when compared to Sabah.
Nothing personal, although I am an interested party,” he said when contacted.“Just look at Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), which has the second highest number of MPs (15). It has only one minister.”
Salang, who is in the information, communication, arts and culture ministry, is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) information chief.
Only two of the ministers are from Sarawak - Peter Chin Fah Kui (energy, green technology and water) and Douglas Uggah Embas (natural resources and environment), alongside nine deputy ministers.
The rural-based Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and PRS have two deputy ministers each. Off-shoots of Sarawak National Party and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak respectively, they have four and six MPs. The Sarawak BN has 30 MPs.

Sabah BN, with 24 MPs, has been given four ministerial posts. These are held by Bernard Dompok (plantation industries and commodities), Mohd Shafie Apdal (rural and regional development minister), Maximus Ongkilili (science, techology and innovations) and Anifah Aman.
This has led to disenchantment among parties in Sarawak. PBB had expected that one of its three deputy ministers would have been promoted to a full minister.
Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp) had hoped that its Bidayuh MP for Serian, Richard Riot, would be included in the cabinet.

Way to offset 'loss'
While Dayak leaders in SPDP and PRS seem to be happy with the community’s representation in the cabinet (one minister and four deputies), PBB and SUPP leaders have expressed disappointment. Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawak Malays have joined the growing chorus of dissatisfaction over Najib’s cabinet line-up.

“We are unhappy because no Malay from Sarawak has been appointed as a full minister in the cabinet,” Johari said, pointing out that the last minister representing the community had been Adenan Satem.
“It is the prerogative of the prime minister to appoint someone to be in his cabinet. He may have reasons for not appointing a Malay MP from Sarawak.”
Supp president George Chan echoed the sentiment, noting that Sarawak is “a bit under-represented” in the federal cabinet. He hoped, however, that the prime minister would compensate for this by allocating a substantial sum to develop the state.

Tuesday, April 14

News and views

1. One Malaysia, one family?

Each Prime Minister has his own slogan to strengthen his government. While Dr. Mahathir Mohamad stressed on the “Ketuanan Melayu”, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi spoke of “Islam Hadhari”. Najib Tun Razak talked about “One Malaysia”.

But what is One Malaysia? Is it like a big family? Sharing common identity, enjoying same privileges and rights? To many of us that is what it means.

As a member of the One Malaysia, we as Dayaks do expect to be treated with equality and fairness and to enjoy the various privileges. Under the Abdullah government, the Dayaks were not allowed even to form their own party, Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC), rejecting it on grounds of security threat.

What threat? Tell me how many Dayaks have become terrorists, have been organising illegal demonstrations in the streets of Kuching or Kuala Lumpur or have been arrested under the famous Internal Security Act (ISA)?

The only arrests made were those Dayaks who are defending their NCR lands from being robbed and sold to big companies for the planting of oil palm.

If the Prime Minister is really serious about implementing the One Malaysia concept, then he should do something to prevent the NCR land from being taken away. What he can do is to tell the State government to put a stop to such discriminatory practices. But will Najib do it?

2. YB Dayaks should be blamed?

While the Democratic Action Party (DAP) state secretary Chong Chieng Jen blamed the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) for the racial imbalance in the public service, the Dayak community should blame the Dayak elected representatives be they in SUPP, PBB, SPDP and PRS for not bringing up the matter with the government.

Like SUPP who always claimed that they “are Chinese representative in the government,” SPDP and PRS who also claimed that they represent the Dayaks in the government should speak up. Failing which they are doing disservice to the community they suppose to represent.

Now you go to every office or department, you only see one race. Seldom have you seen other races. Certainly this is not good to the One Malaysia concept as espoused by the newly appointed Prime Minister.

3. Dayak Bidayuhs upset over exclusion

The Bidayuh community is unhappy with the newly formed government of Najib Tun Razak over the non-inclusion of a Bidayuh MP in the cabinet. – The Broken Shield

(See the full story of Malaysiakini below)

Najib to face a Bidayuh mutiny?

The Dayak Bidayuhs - numbering more than 200,000 in Sarawak - once again feel slighted when none of their three parliamentarians was included in the recently-formed Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's cabinet.

The three MPs - Richard Riot (Serian MP from the Sarawak United People's Party), James Dawos Mamit (Mambong, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra) and Dr Tiki Lafe (Mas Gading, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party) - have received negative reactions from their constituents as a result of them being overlooked by Najib.

Some called for them to resign their seats in order to show their displeasure against the Najib government, while others have called on them to join PKR.The three MPs admitted receiving many SMSes from their supporters and members of the Bidayuh community.

"I know that the prime minister has the prerogative to appoint members of his cabinet, but by not appointing one from the Bidayuh community, he has made his 1Malaysia concept a mere rhetoric," said Dawos when asked by journalists.

Tiki, when contacted, also expressed disappointment and said he was now on the ground to seek feedback from his constituents on the next course of action to be taken.

This is the second time that the Bidayuh community has been sidelined from the cabinet.After the March 2008 general election, the community was excluded from the cabinet of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Tiki was a member of the Abdullah government but was dropped from the cabinet after the 2008 general election.

His place was taken over by another SPDP leader and a member of the Orang Ulu community, Jacob Dungau Sagan.

Last year, there were rumours that Riot and Tiki were on the verge of joining the opposition. Riot and 1,000 supporters burnt their Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) membership cards but he and Tiki withdrew their threats after BN leaders met them.

‘Bidayuhs are penumpang'

In a related development former Mas Gading MP and Star president Dr Patau Rubis urged the Bidayuh community to stop complaining and give Najib a chance to settle into his job.

"All the Bidayuhs are penumpang (passengers) of other people's boats and we should not complain.

We do not have a voice," he said, adding that the Bidayuhs were now further divided after joining PKR.

Another Bidayuh leader Patrick Anek Uren, also a former MP for Mas Gading, called on Tiki to quit as MP as he had failed to represent the community in the federal government.
"As an MP, you are elected by the people and to serve them as well as to deliver all things that benefit the people. It is not a privilege for you to seek employment for yourself.

"I think Tiki has failed us and I demand his resignation immediately," said Anek, who was noted for his oratory and courage for fighting for the Bidayuhs' interests.

choing Anek's comments, PKR Bidayuh chief coordinator Granda Aing said the three MPs should become independents or join his party.

Otherwise, he said, their worth was only RM4 million, referring to the money given by Najib to the Bidayuh community a couple of months ago.
Former president of the deregistered Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) Daniel Tajem said that the Bidayuhs should not complain as they were always very close to the BN government.

"Accept whatever is given to the community," he said.

Monday, April 13

News and Views

1. Miring and politics

As we all know, miring (making offerings to gods) is part of the Iban culture when one is about to venture into something deem to be important such as to start padi planting, going to battle fields, journeying to the unknown, starting a business, constructing a house, and etc.

Usually, as part of the ritual, a pig is to be speared so that its liver is to be examined and interpreted to mean good or bad. For a smaller miring, a chicken is to be used as its blood is to be smeared on the ingredients of the piring.

Both Jawah Gerang, the PKR candidate and Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, the BN candidate, performed miring on their way to the nomination centre on 29 March 2009. Mussen speared a pig, but the pig which was supposed to have been killed, was still alive. Somebody else finished the job.

On 4 April 2009, deputy chief minister Alfred Jabu anak Numpang while at Wong Panjai campaigning for Mussen performed a “genselan” by spearing a pig. Like in Mussen’s case, the pig also was not killed instantly. Some one else used a piece of wood to hit the head of the pig.

According to Iban elders, the two “incidents” were bad omens (jai burong) and they predicted Jawah Gerang to win. Now we know that the so-called "jai burong" turned out to be “manah burong” (good omens) for Mussen.

Of course, what Mussen did was to neutralize the “jai burong” omen, not by another miring, or by waving of cockerels, but by calling on the God of money to help. And the God of money blinded the voters’ eyes and made them deaf and dumb.

2. Tuai Rumah Nyawin

It only takes Tuai Rumah Nyawin to undo the effects of thousands of CDs distributed to longhouses in Batang Ai to discredit the State BN government. The CDs featured scenes of Nyawin’s longhouse and other longhouses destroyed by the Land and Survey, the Police and oil palm companies. Initially, the CDs had some effects on those who saw them; some even cried. But during the last few days of campaign, Nyawin was brought from Bintulu to counter the propaganda and neutralize the effects. He did a very good job for the BN. Why not flying in a helicopter?

A couple of years ago Nyawin was in the limelight after the authorities destroyed his longhouse and sued the government for destroying it, taking away his land and the land belonged to his “anembiaks”.

The CDs featured the destroying of his longhouse and how they were treated as if they were animals. But some months later Tuai Rumah Nyawin was asked to withdraw the case and some compensation was paid. Land titles were given to the land where their houses stand today. He got himself a 4WD vehicle. Today his people are still grumbling as they have no land to farm. But Nyawin enjoys himself and is always seen in Bintulu town. The story reminds me of Iban folklore, the Apai Saloi.

3. Bloggers again under fire

Before and after the Batang Ai by-election, bloggers especially the Dayak bloggers are constantly under fire from the State BN leaders. Deputy president of PBB Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang described the bloggers as “specialist instigators”, while Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing did not read what bloggers wrote, but yet condemned them.

PRS Information chief Joseph Salang said that the impact of the bloggers in the Batang Ai by-election was only 10% of the 22,000 population of Batang Ai, that is, only 2,200 people. If only there are telecommunications towers and broadband centres and longhouses have electricity supply, then the percentage of people using internets would have been higher. The impact by bloggers’ write-ups may be higher.

Now the latest to attack on bloggers comes from Senior vice president of PBB Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, who told Kuching journalists not to abuse media freedom. Press was an important institution in forming public opinion, but a small section of media including bloggers had ignored ethics and law.

He said: “We should not allow internet users and bloggers to use this venue to slander, incite and criticise others including political and government leaders.

“As the position and role of traditional media was being threatened by the new and alternative media, the tasks and responsibilities of journalists in playing ‘check and balance’ role was being more challenging,”
he said.

Why bloggers are suddenly becoming a threat is that the people want to read the other alternative views and government leaders and politicians do not want the people to know. They even tell traditional media not to pay much attention to news coming from the Opposition, and if they do, they may be in trouble.

If that is the case, people who are hungry for Opposition news will have to go to the internets and blogs. So other views other than the government’s views are always considered a threat. – The Broken Shield


Sunday, April 12

News and Views


It is obvious that the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is still riding on the wave of political tsunami in Kedah by winning the Bukit Selambau by-election with a bigger majority last Tuesday, but it failed to cause a wave in the Batang Ai by-election. Its candidate the former five-term Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang was soundly defeated. He secured 2,053 votes as against the BN candidate, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh of 3,907 votes.

Several factors have been attributed to the failure of Keadilan to take advantage of the seemingly dissatisfied 8,129 voters who have been shabbily treated by the BN State government – the broken promises, the unpaid claims, lack of land for farming and lack of infrastructural facilities.

Dayaks not ready to abandon BN

Theories are many attributing to the failure. But obviously, one of the main factors is that Dayaks are not ready to abandon the State Barisan Nasional, even although many of its policies are against their interests. Truthfully, many have indeed benefited from the BN polices. For example in this by-election, there are a number of instant “noodle” projects, the promises to look into their problems, to tar-seal their roads and to provide various health and recreational amenities as well as the financial assistance. Being simple-minded and trusting the BN to fulfill its promises, they therefore voted for the BN candidate.

BN polices are perceived as “fair”

These voters have also been told that the BN and chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s polices are "fair" in that some Dayaks and Dayak leaders have benefited from such policies; Dayak leaders in PBB like Alfred Jabu and Numpang whose wealth is perhaps at par with Leonard Linggi Jugah, the richest Dayak in Sarawak will surely cling like leeches on to Taib Mahmud.

And even in Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) itself there are leaders who have timber concessions, large tracts of land for oil palm plantation, school and government contracts. Naturally, these Dayak leaders are at the forefront of the campaigns trying to convince their fellow Dayaks to support Taib’s policies even for small minor rural development projects.

As the Dayak Iban community in Batang Ai is one of the poorest in Malaysia, these projects and promises are therefore very tempting; and hence how could they refuse such offer and abandon Barisan Nasional and Abdul Taib Mahmud?

But the Barisan Nasional must also remember that this was a by-election during which they promised heaven on earth. However, both the voters and PKR are watching whether the promises made will be fulfilled by the time the next state election comes in two year’s time or even sooner than expected.

PKR is considered an “outsider” party

Another reason for PKR’s failure to gain foothold in Sarawak’s rural areas is that the Dayaks especially the Ibans have been told to be wary of peninsular-based political parties. PKR is an “outsider” party, the party that does not respect the Iban customs. This issue has been highlighted in the recent by-election and so repeatedly reminded that the Ibans are skeptical with parties like Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and even UMNO spreading its wings into Sarawak.

The State BN knows that the Ibans have always been suspicious of peninsular people and telling them what happens in Sabah makes them more frightened. Sabah is now under the control of UMNO and everything that needs to be done must receive approval from UMNO headquarters. PKR under Anwar Ibrahim will be no different. The “yes Anwar no Taib” slogan was not effective enough to sway voters in the Batang Ai by-election.

The point was clearly emphasized by president of PRS and director of operations for the Batang Ai by-election James Masing who said the defeat of peninsular-based party, PKR in the by-election “is proof that it has no place in Sarawak”.

“This goes to show that Sarawakians want Sarawakians to be in control in Sarawak, not those outsiders. It showed we do not want PKR to come in.”

Again being multi-racial and “outsider-based” party, PKR has no answer to argue over the current political set-up of the State Barisan Nasional where all communities are represented by their respective communal parties that is considered by the State political leadership as the best assurance towards political stability and economic progress.

Racial-based party is still preferred

Thus they see in multi-racial parties like PKR and Sarawak National Party (SNAP) as not suitable as of now as the people are still conscious of racial-based parties. SNAP was once a very powerful Dayak-based party, and when it became multi-racial, it slowly lost its power and influence among the Dayaks.

The Dayaks’ frustrations in SNAP gave birth to a racially-based party, Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in July 1983. This belief still holds true till this day. Look at PBB which is representing the Malay/Melanau communities, SUPP the Chinese community and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) representing the rural communities. PRS was almost caught in trouble with some non-Dayak elements in the party. It is now slowly becoming a Dayak-based party.

PKR Sarawak: Bickering over the choice of candidate

The other contributing factor that needs mention is the continued internal bickering in PKR over the selection of the candidate for the by-election and carried over into the nine-day campaign period. Two groups with one supporting Jawah Gerang and the other Nicholas Bawin almost came to blows on the eve of nomination day. This heated argument in front of the unfriendly media became the main stories of the local papers and were being exploited by the BN to its advantage.

It was said that when Anwar came to Sarawak one week before nomination, he was supposed to announce that Bawin would be the candidate, because Bawin who had been a member of PKR had already prepared for the by-election since May 22, 2008 the day that the late Dublin Unting, the incumbent state assemblyman went into coma.

But the group supporting Jawah who recently joined PKR confronted Anwar and even threatened to resign from PKR if he did not accede to their demand. Anwar was more or less held to ransom had he not given in to their demand.

Meanwhile, Bawin’s supporters became angry and refused to campaign for Jawah. Even there were rumours to suggest that Bawin himself and his supporters campaigned for the Barisan candidate.

The unabated bickering had made the PKR preparations go haywire. Although Bawin was the director of operations, he was no where to be seen in the PKR operations. He was believed to have campaigned in Engkari and Lemanak. Thus, a coordinator of the election in the person of YB Dominique Ng was appointed.

Ng played down the open bickering amongst the party leaders and members and said: “The wrong choice of candidate was not an issue in the PKR camp because even if we fielded Bawin, the party would be defeated just as badly.”

PKR’s election workers were not paid

Grouses and grumblings among the PKR election workers were also heard that they had not been paid for their services and that no food was prepared for them. This is bad for PKR’s psychological warfare against the enemy.

Political observers see that voluntary services by the members for the party’s campaigns may be a good strategy in the peninsula, but in rural Sarawak it cannot be done this way due to many factors one of which is that the campaigners come from poor families.

There is also a need to buy petrol for their cars or outboard engines as they have to travel through difficult terrain, and poor road conditions or fast running water or rapids to reach vast and sparsely populated constituencies.

Few elected representatives and campaigners from Penang and Selangor who campaigned for the PKR candidate had visited the various longhouses and had some unpleasant experiences – the hazardous journey passing through difficult terrain, sleeping in the longhouses with little food and drinks. But such experiences will help them to understand Sarawak better.

"No money, no talk"

The other factor pointing to the failure of PKR was money. In Sarawak, money is still the most important tool of the election. Without it, you cannot win any election in Sarawak. You need it to charter boats and vans and pay workers for their food. You need to buy petrol, and even to buy votes. The Barisan Nasional is doing such a thing, sometimes very openly. And nobody can touch them. In Sarawak, Taib said: “I am the government.”

For any Sate election, PKR must realize that it is fighting not the politicians or political parties of the Barisan Nasional alone, but the entire government machinery – the State civil service, KEMAS (community development department), MIS (Malaysian Information Service), RTM, the council staff, teachers and community leaders.

The might of BN machinery

Logistically, the Barisan Nasional has superior assorts of political weapons such as the use of helicopters to fly ministers to campaign in any remote area unreachable by any other means. Several helicopters were used in this by-election.

For the Barisan, money was not a problem. In this by-election alone, it spent several millions of ringgit on travelling, lodging and accommodation expenses, not to mention the instant “noodle” projects that they promised the voters and money allegedly used to buy votes of between RM500 and RM1,000 per vote.

Compared with PKR, how could it match the machinery and the organizational skills of the Barisan Nasional? Just impossible, but then the local PKR, unlike the recent by-election, must organise itself with the limited funds available.

PKR must get organised NOW!

Thus, if PKR is seriously thinking of the next state election, it must begin its planning now, start to identify potential candidates and should look for funds. To unseat this state government, at least a sum of RM500,000 for each of 71 State constituencies is required, otherwise PKR should forget about contesting in Sarawak, let alone trying to change the State government. Rhetoric alone cannot help. Money is the name of the game.

Batang Ai – a litmus test for PKR

As mentioned previously, the Batang Ai is a major test for PKR in the Iban-dominated constituency. Winning here would mean the people and PKR are ready to change the government and losing would spell disaster. Although Ng said that the loss will not dampen the PKR fighting spirit, there are others who feel that the defeat here will have some impact on the next election.

Ng said: “We have in fact learnt one or two things from the campaign and this experience will be useful for future elections.” Certainly PKR has a lot to learn. – The Broken Shield


Saturday, April 11

News and Views

PKR committee to monitor BN's goodies in Batang Ai


Lubok Antu PKR division will form a special committee tomorrow to keep track on development projects promised by the BN during the Batang Ai by-election.

The committee will be formed when Jawah Gerang, the defeated PKR candidate, holds a ‘thank you’ event at his longhouse in Sayat, Lubok Antu.

"This committee will monitor the projects and ensure that the BN keeps its promises to the people,” Jawah said today.BN leaders have promised about RM200 million worth of projects during the by-election.

The projects include RM2 million for the upgrading of longhouses, RM6 million for electrification programme, RM2.5 million for a telecommunication tower and community broadband centre, RM40.2 million for Universal Service Provision projects, R420,000 for minor rural projects, RM62 million for tar-sealing the seven-kilometer Lemanak Road, the survey and design of Lemanak-Engkari Road, and tar-sealing the 10km ring road in Batang Ai.

Apart from these projects, the government has also promised to settle unpaid claims as a result of the construction of Batang Ai hydro-electric dam and to issue land titles to the land owners.

Jawah said the Batang Ai people have been waiting for these promises to be fulfilled for the last 27 years.

This committee, he said, would ensure that these promises are fulfilled and projects delivered as soon as possible, otherwise the same promises and projects would be made again in the coming state election, expected in two years.

'We must work harder'

Jawah also pacified his supporters, asking them not to be disappointed with his defeat. “Instead, we should regroup and re-evaluate as this was the beginning of an interesting journey towards the Dewan Undangan Negeri 2011 when the state election will be called."We may lose the battle of Batang Ai, but not our spirit and our struggle," he said, adding that the recent defeat should spur them to work harder.

The five-term Lubok Antu MP lost to BN’s Malcolm Mussen Lamoh by a majority of 1854 votes. Jawah managed to secure only 2053 votes against his rival’s 3907 votes.Meanwhile, Mussen 49 will be sworn in as a member of the state legislative assembly when it sits on May 11.
The former engineer with the Sarawak Department of Agriculture is seen as a potential leader who will be able to further strengthen the position of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) in the BN.Mussen was the only candidate put up by PRS president James Masing for consideration by the BN top leadership.

The risk he took in fielding a political greenhorn paid off.Lately, PRS was seen as a party that has been bullied by Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu due to its weak leadership.

Thursday, April 9

News and Views

1. Najib’s Cabinet

It is nothing surprised about Najib Tun Razak’s cabinet announced this afternoon. While Sabah is given a better deal, Sarawak remains the same with two (2) ministers and eight (8) deputy ministers.

We were hoping that one Dayak from either Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) or Sarawak Progressive Party (SPDP) should have been appointed to represent the Dayak community in the cabinet proper. The four deputy ministers – Joseph Salang (Information, culture, arts and communication), Jelaing Mersat (home ministry), Joseph Entulu (rural development and territories) and Jacob Sagan (international trade and industry) – are outside the cabinet and do not attend cabinet meetings. Who are going to articulate our interests?

It is true that Douglas Uggah Embas has been retained as a minister, but he is more representative of PBB’s interests than the Dayaks’ interests.

Once again the Dayak community has been let down both by the former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the newly appointed Prime Minister Najib.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud was reported to have said that there would be surprises for Sarawak. Now you know what surprise is there?

2. The picture tells the story

The picture of page 6 of The Borneo Post today (9 April) tells the story how happy were PBB boys with the electoral victory of Malcolm Mussen Lamoh on the Batang Ai by-election on 7 April.

Although Mussen was nominated by PRS to contest the Batang Ai by-election, there were no signs of PRS people celebrating his victory. The questions being asked are: Where were the PRS people? And why PBB people were seen celebrating the victory? Does this mean anything to the readers?

3. Time for BN to deliver the goods

After the by-election is over, the Barisan Nasional candidate, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh has won the by-election. His victory was achieved because of the promises made the Barisan to the people of Batang Ai. The promises to tar-seal the roads leading to their longhouses, the construction of a new road, the construction of communications and internet towers and centre, to pay the unpaid claims of properties as a result of the Batang Ai Dam, to give them an extra land for farming, to give them titles to their land and to supply them with electricity and water supply. The BN also must keep its promises to give RM1,000 more if their candidate won the by-election. RM500 had already been given.

The Ibans in the Batang Ai have been loyal to the Barisan and it is expected that the BN will be honouring their promises. However, the people and Parti Keadilan Rakyat are monitoring the fulfillment of these promises. The next state election is actually around the corner and the same issues will be raised again.

4. Recognise Dayaks as Dayaks

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) wants the ethnic races of Sabah to be known as Bumiputra Sabah and not “other races” in the federal government affairs and forms.

As Dayaks have no political party of their own, there is no one daring to speak on the interests of the Dayaks. Like PBS, our Dayak YBs should ask the federal government to recognize Dayaks as Dayaks and the word “Dayaks” should be written in the official forms and the federal government affairs instead of “lain-lain” (others).

The categories of races in most forms listed major races as the Malays, Indians, Chinese and other races.

There were occasions when Dayaks are not considered as Bumiputras and are therefore not entitled to privileges given to Bumiputras.- The Broken Shield


Wednesday, April 8

Latest news on the Batang Ai (Part 14)

1. Jawah’s message

The defeated candidate for Batang Ai Jawah Gerang today thanked all those who had supported him in the by-election.

“This is a temporary setback. Don’t despair. We may have lost the battle of Batang Ai (they stole it), but not the spirit and struggles.

“Dewan Undangan Negeri election in 2011 next will be pay back time. Regroup and revaluate. This is the beginning of an interesting journey,”
he said.

The former five-term Lubok Antu MP was defeated by Malcolm Mussen by 1,854 votes majority. He secured 2,053 votes as against Mussen’s 3,907 votes.

2. Sarawakians want Sarawakians

Barisan Nasional Operations director for Batang Ai by-election James Masing said the defeat of peninsula-based Parti Keadilan Rakyat(PKR) in the by-election is proof that it has no place in Sarawak.

The Parti Rakyat Sarawak president said that the result also showed that blogs especially the anti-establishment ones had no impact on the voting trend in Batang Ai.

“This goes to show that Sarawakians want Sarawakians to be in control in Sarawak, not those outsiders. It shows that we don’t want PKR to come in. We in Sarawak do things our own way and we do not need outsiders to come here and tell us what to do,” he said.

Masing’s slogan “Sarawakians want Sarawakians” reminds me of Sarawak National Party’s famous saying “Sarawak for Sarawakians” in the 1974 State and parliamentary elections.

SNAP won 18 state seats (out of 48) and nine parliamentary seats, making it the strongest opposition party at the time. Today SNAP has no representative either in Parliament or in Dewan Undangan Negeri.

It would appear that Masing is against West Malaysians coming here to “tell us what to do” and yet he is silent about the presence of UMNO leaders in the by-election. Is this not double standard?

3. PKR’s loss due to money politics

Dominique Ng, election coordinator for Jawah Gerang, said that the loss suffered by Jawah and the party was due to money politics.

“PKR is not a sore loser. It is money politics,” he said and stressed that Dayaks in the rural areas still had a lost to do when it came to rejecting money politics.

“The wrong choice of candidate was not an issue in the PKR camp because even if we fielded Nicholas Bawin, the party would be defeated just as badly. The election had not been conducted in a fair manner,” he said.

One day before polling Sulaiman Taib (chief minister Abdul Taib’s son) flew to Lubok Antu to campaign. We were told he brought a lot of money in the helicopter. (Possibly several millions of ringgit)

Again four days before election, Masing was alleged to have received RM550,000 from one of his supreme council members who had school contract business.

On the night of polling we were at Ensawang longhouse and was told by the longhouse folk that each family was given RM30.00 per household and RM14.00 per voter. And the Tuai Rumah warned his villagers that anyone found to be voting for the Opposition would not be given any “goodie”.

In this election the Tuai Rumah was promised roofing materials and the supply of clean water which they had been waiting for 27 years. Last year they were extended electricity supply to the two longhouses.

Another unfulfilled promise is to maintain their road and to tar-seal it. The untar-sealed road is about four (4) km from Lubok Antu. Ensawang is part of the longhouse that was resettled down river after its original longhouse in the ‘ulu’ was flooded as a result of the Batang Ai dam. – The Broken Shield