Saturday, January 30

SDNU TGA, what went wrong with it?

This morning (30 Jan 2010) I (uninvited) attended the 32nd triennial general assembly of Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) to listen to a speech of Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum at the Penview Hotel, Kuching.

Two things he mentioned very clearly.

(i) Don’t bring politics into the Union
(ii) What is your contribution to the Union?

Don’t bring politics to the union:
Salang said that the Union has never been involved in politics and it should be kept that way. Some of the members, he said, might be involved in politics, but that was their personal involvement.

“You cannot blame them for being in politics, although they may hold office as president, deputy president, secretary and committee members. And your political leaning is your own business. Some of us are in BN just like me; others are in the opposition.

“Why should people like me want to bring SDNU to BN and others to Opposition?”
he asked and said: “We cannot force people to follow your parties.”

Salang added: “Whether you are in the opposition and I am in the BN, there is no reason why we cannot make the union as the centre of our cultural unity.”

Our contribution to SDNU:
Next Salang touched on the subject of members’ contributions to the union so that it can achieve a higher plane of success.

I ask myself how much have I contributed or helped the union; and if all of us put our efforts collectively I am sure the union will do much to help the Dayak community.

“Our union is just like a bandong (a big boat). One person will not be able to paddle it, but if all of us paddle it, it will move where we want it to go.

“We must not question who is our captain or ‘juragan’ of the boat otherwise our boat will be stranded,”
he stressed.

The Broken Shield’s Observation:
I notice few things were not right at this TGA. May be I see them through a reporter’s eyes. Firstly, there was an inadequate publicity in the papers, so not many Dayaks even in Kuching knew about it. (I was one of them). It is important that this type of meeting, the triennial general meeting, should be given ample publicity, unless of course you do not want other Dayaks to know. But I thought SDNU represent the Dayak community!

Secondly, there was a miscommunication between the deputy minister and the organisers. There was no proper invitation, according to Salang. He was informed to come at 9.30 a.m to open the meeting and when he arrived, nobody was there to welcome him, He was then invited to sit with us – me, Tajem and a few others at a coffeehouse.

Guests, delegates and observers should arrive at 8.30 a.m, and the president should arrive at 8.45 a.m. But the president arrived at 10.00 a.m. So the deputy minister was waiting for half an hour and I can see he was not happy as he mentioned during the speech that people used to complain “baka nganti menteri, tang sekalitu, kitai nganti president. Aku ukai nyindir president.”

Thirdly, the backdrop mentioned that Salang was “the Minister of Information, Communication and Culture.” Albert Anggie saw it and asked it to be corrected.

I am sure there were committee members who have been appointed to head certain sub-committees such as publicity sub-committee, welcoming sub-committee, food and drinks sub-committee, etc.

Although these are seemingly small things, they reflect badly on our community in organising any function. Something for all of us to ponder? – The Broken Shield


Wednesday, January 27

Without fear or favour

The Broken Shield will always highlight problems and policies that negatively affect the Dayak community without fear or favour. It will also heap praises on government policies if such policies bring benefit to the people.

Truth is bitter and no doubt such exposure will hurt those who implement such policies, but the intention is good and a part of a democratic process where the freedom of speech should prevail.

This is the stand of The Broken Shield:-

The writer’s story on “Masing disowns Salcra” and the comments that follow have made some officers in Salcra management unhappy and have threatened to send the owner of the blog to jail under ISA. If they think the facts are not true The Broken Shield stands to be corrected and it will publish its version in the blog.

But to threaten the writer and to put the blame on the writer’s brother in Salcra and accuse him of giving the writer any information on its problems, weakness, etc. is not only unfair, but it is also very unprofessional, because that is not true.

My information comes from those who are close to the Minister of Land Development and Salcra board of directors. Even the writer’s brother does not know some of the most sensitive information about Salcra, about the general manager, his background and background of some of the contract officers.

I have also some information passed to the writer on certain staff in Salcra sending their personal cars for servicing and repairing to a car workshop company in Serian, the costs for which are allegedly paid by Salcra.

Salcra staff and management as well as the scheme participants should read Dayak Baru blog by Dr. John Brian and remarks and comments that follow. What is written in the Broken Shield is paled in comparison.

Thus threatening the writer of The Broken Shield with ISA does not intimidate him.

The Broken Shield can assure the readers that it will continue to highlight and expose mismanagement and abuse of power either by Salcra, Land and Survey Department, Agriculture, or by ministers and politicians. – The Broken Shield


Sunday, January 24

Focus on PBB’s delegates conference

KUCHING – Even though PBB party elections considered a tame affair in early March 2010, yet the triennial delegates conference has generated some interest not only among its members, but also among the general public as they believe that the party President and Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud may choose to announce his successor.

Abdul Taib Mahmud

Taib, aged 74, looking frail after an operation, but still mentally alert, is said to be looking for someone to lead the party which he has helmed since 26 March 1981, a period of about 29 years. And what makes it more interesting and exciting is that whoever is to succeed him as the president of PBB is going to be the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

In the past Taib has eyed a number of PBB leaders who should take over from him; names such as Bujang Haji Ulis, Abang Abu Bakar, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, Effendi Norwawi and Adenan Satem are still fresh on the minds of the members. But one after the other of them has disappeared into political oblivion.

Since Parti Bumiputra and Parti Pesaka merged into Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu in January 1973, no one has ever challenged the president of the party. Except for two party elections in 1998 and 2005, there have never been any serious elections in the party.

Adenan Satem

In 1998, both Adenan and Abang Johari Tun Openg fought one another for the other post of deputy president (II) reserved for the Malay/Melanau section. In that bitter fight Abang Johari with the support of the Dayak members of the party won the race, against Adenan who was personally picked by Taib.

The defeated Adenan was then appointed by Taib as the senior vice president of the party.

In 2005, Adenan tried once again to challenge Abang Johari, but the TDC was postponed after some of Adenan’s supporters were found by Abang Johari’s men to have allegedly duplicated branches in some 40 constituencies. The matter was reported to the Police and to the Registrar of Societies who advised them to redo the election otherwise they might end up like PBDS.

Taib had reportedly said before the 2006 State election that he might still offer himself for the last term as Chief Minister in the coming state election that may be called between now and July next year.

And Taib’s desire to step down is further strengthened when on 10 January 2009 at an SPDP annual general meeting in Sibu in a speech read by George Chan, he had said that he was looking for someone regardless of race to be trained to take over from him.

The man supposedly to be picked by him must be trained from now to do the job, must be smart and sincere in the struggle to develop the State and raise the standard of living of the people.

Thus the March party elections which can be the last one for Taib have therefore triggered the rumour mill in motion. Immediately coming into focus are a number of senior leaders such as Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, deputy president (I), Abang Johari bin Tun Openg, deputy president (II), Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, treasurer general and even Taib’s son, Sulaiman. Any one of them has been mentioned by members of the party as well as the public as Taib’s possible successor.

No one can deny that Jabu has all the experience and expertise and he does not need to be trained now to take over the chief minister’s post the way the policemen are trained for promotions for higher ranks.

Alfred Jabu

A graduate in Agriculture, Jabu (pic above) has been tutored by two of Sarawak’s greatest politicians in the persons of Abdul Rahman Yakub and Abdul Taib Mahmud. Elected as State Assemblyman for Layar in 1974, he has been appointed to hold various ministerial posts including Deputy Chief Minister under Rahman and since March 1981 under Taib.

Another chief minister material is Abang Johari who holds a MBA degree 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 in billions of ringgit worth of foreign direct investments to the State. After he left and moved to the Tourism Ministry, the amount of FDI to Sarawak declined sharply.

But in the Tourism Ministry, he was once again proved to be a capable minister by turning it into a machine making money earning billions of ringgit from tourists who came from Japan, Korea, China, Arab and European countries.

In another cabinet reshuffle, Abang Johari was moved to the ailing Ministry of Housing and was shocked to find out that the ministry was nearly “bankrupt”. There was no fund even to build a single house. And what he did was to meet his federal counterpart and discussed his problems. From their discussions, he was able to secure RM200 million to carry out people’s housing projects in the State.

Coming from an aristocratic family (his father Tun Abang Openg was the first governor of Sarawak), he seems to have won the trust and confidence of Taib after he (Taib) gave him an additional ministry – the Ministry of Urban Development to his current portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle in November 2009. His upbringing has brought him into contacts with Malays, Ibans, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus.

The next favourite is Taib’s son Sulaiman who resigned recently as deputy minister of Tourism. Although it was stated that he resigned due to health reasons, speculation is rife that his father wants him to return to the State and to be “trained” to take over.

Political observers are closely watching Sulaiman in this coming party election and the post he is offering himself. The post he is going to hold will be a barometer to gauge his political fortune.

The next name mentioned is Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, senior vice-president (I) of the party and the Minister of Public Utilities and the Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management, who is considered the most powerful minister after Taib in the State Cabinet.

But Awang Tengah’s alleged disadvantage is that the Dayak members of PBB and to some extent the Malays have little respect for him; in fact they are not happy with the way he, as second Minister of Planning and Resource Management, handles land matters especially the NCR land. Dayak votes in the party are critical to anyone who aspires to lead the party.

In the past months, Taib has also been seeking the views of the people close to him including some Dayak and Chinese Ministers regarding his possible successor. But sources say that his ministers are divided on the issue; while one or two prefer Abang Johari, they are those who prefer Sulaiman.

“Certainly with the coming party elections, the public are interested to know who will be the man Taib is going to train to take over,” said a veteran politician.

“A lot of things are at stake such as the Sarawak Corridor Renewal Energy (SCORE), the 12 dams that are going to be built, the aluminum plant and the infrastructures. All these are worth billions of ringgit.

“And there are accusations of corruption and nepotism that have been labeled against Taib on several occasions and the dominance of Sarawak’s political elite including Taib’s family in the logging industries, road construction, housing projects and NCR land oil palm plantations.

“And Taib must find someone who he can trust to undertake all these projects and to help protect his family’s businesses,”
he said.

“But many put their bet on his son. Can he be the dark horse?” asked the political veteran, who was once time served under Taib Mahmud.- The Broken Shield


Friday, January 22

Plant oil palm in your own land, owners advised

Sarawak Native Land Owners Network has warned NCR landowners not to allow their land to be developed through Land Custody and Development Authority.

Nicholas Mujah who sits as an adviser of the board of Sarawak Native Land Owners Network said that land owners have bitter experience in dealing with LCDA.

“All the disputed cases between the natives and LCDA are due to the fact that LCDA is not transparent in its policies.

“Let us look at all the court cases pending in the High Court which have been triggered by the LCDA’s lack of transparency policies,”
he said, giving an example of land owners in Kanowit who are forced to take legal action against LCDA, which they alleged, has failed to protect their interests.

Although LCDA promised to pay dividends to the scheme participants in Kanowit after four years or so of operations, the natives until now have not been paid any dividend by the company that was developing their land more than 10 years ago.

“There are more cases of this nature coming up in the Court in the next few months” he said.

Mujah, who is Secretary General of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), was commenting on Taib’s statement regarding government’s intention to introduce a new land development scheme in order to enable the natives to earn bigger incomes through the development of their NCR land.

Taib had said that among the ideas being mulled was to create estate share exchange which would be handled by LCDA and with this kind of scheme to be implemented within the next 10 years, the people in the rural areas would feel reasonably comfortable with their earnings.

Mujah suggested that it is better for the land owners to develop or plant their own land with oil palm as they would gain much better profits than through a joint-venture with LCDA or even Salcra.

Most land owners receive between RM300 and RM1,000 per year in JV with companies and LCDA (Pelita) where as if they plant oil palm on their own land, they will earn at least RM1,000 a month or about RM12,000 a year.

He said there are examples of smallholders who are very successful in their undertakings such as David Kalom, Cobbold John, Tuai Rumah Masa and Jawah Gerang to name a few.

According to Mujah, each one of them earned between RM10,000 and RM20,000 a month.

He also advised land owners to seek advice from those who have been successful as well as from the Malaysian Oil Palm Board. - The Broken Shield


Monday, January 18

Strange, but true

Last Friday morning 15 Jan 2010, Nicholas Mujah, Secretary General of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) rang up the State Election Office asking for Registration Forms to register voters. He spoke to a senior officer and told him that he wanted some forms. For the past three months the Election Office has exhausted all its forms, and was still waiting for more to come from Kuala Lumpur.

The registration of voters is now on.

When Mujah made an enquiry, the officer asked Mujah which party he belonged to, who he was and what race was he. The questions placed Mujah in an awkward position. Mujah had to lie and said that he was from Keadilan. And he told Mujah he could not give unless he registered his name with the Commission. Mujah told him that his name should be in the list.

Then he was surprised to know that Mujah has been authorized by the Commission to register voters State-wide and is being paid one ringgit per voter. At that instant, he told Mujah to come and collect the forms.

When Mujah and a friend arrived at the Office, he handed more than 500 forms duly filled to a lady clerk. In return, Mujah asked for the forms from the clerk who said: “Sik ada form, belum datang dari Kuala Lumpur.”

“Benar sik ada form?” Mujah asked.

“Benar sik ada form” she replied.

And Mujah said he was going to ask for the third time. “Benar sik ada form?”

“Benar sik ada form; sik aku bula”, she replied.

Mujah said: “I have just spoken to a senior officer and asked me to come and collect the forms. Now you told me there are no forms.”

When Mujah tried to see the officer and only then she told him to wait and brought some bundles of forms. She wanted to give Mujah one bundle of 100 forms, but Mujah told her to give him 5 bundles.

Two or three things I can surmise from the incident at the office of the Election Commission. Firstly, when Mujah mentioned Keadilan, the officer immediately asked Mujah to collect the forms. My questions are: Is the officer pro-Keadilan? And why race was being asked?

And with the lady clerk, she obviously did not want Mujah to have the forms and this is a common reflection of the attitude of civil servants nowadays towards the public especially to the people who come from the rural areas. And if Mujah was not persistent, he would not be given the forms.

Thirdly, the absence of Dayak officers or clerks in any government department nowadays is a cause for concern.

Is this not part of discrimination? – The Broken Shield


Friday, January 15

Are Dayak leaders prepared to merge?

KUCHING – Are Dayak-based parties and Dayak leaders prepared to merge to form one single entity? Or do they dare to merge?

These are the questions posed by Tedewin Ngumbang, a supreme council member of Parti Rakyat Sarawak.

Writing in his blog, The Borneo Warrior, Tedewin said: “Dayak leaders in Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Pesaka and Sarawak United People’s Party should come together and form a merged entity.

“Don’t think only about Dayak leaders in SPDP and PRS. James Masing, PRS president and William Mawan, SPDP president are not the only Dayak leaders.

“There are Dayak leaders in PESAKA and SUPP such as Alfred Jabu, Michael Manyin, Douglas Uggah, Alexander Nanta Linggi (all from PBB), Jerip Susil, Francis Harden, Ranum Mina and Richard Riot from SUPP,”
he said.

“I challenge them if they dare to come out from their respective parties and form a bigger union of Dayak party.

“If this can be done, the Dayaks can become a very strong and formidable political force and can afford to choose whether to support BN or PR,”
he said, urging PESAKA which forms the Dayak branch of PBB since January 1973 to detach itself from PBB and join the merger.

“Are they daring enough to come together and form one single party?’ he asked.

Tedewin, a confidant of Masing, made those remarks after a PBB leader poking fun at PRS and SPDP over the merger between the two parties.

The merger proposal was suggested by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud four years ago in order to strengthen the Dayak political unity and struggle.

But until now the merger remains an illusive dream as both sides are rather hesitant on the move.

Few issues need to be solved such as the question of leadership and Chinese membership in the new entity.

SPDP did not discuss the merger issue during its last month’s triennial general assembly.- The Broken Shield


Tuesday, January 12

The role of YBs

Like Members of Parliament, Council Negeri (Dewan Undangan Negeri) Members represent the concerns of the people of their constituencies in the State Legislative Assembly and to help solve problems of their constituents on a variety of matters – from checking on individual problems with government departments to providing information on government development programmes and policies. They also maintain a high profile in their ridings (constituencies) and take part in local events and official functions.

While the cabinet and government make policies, laws, and etc, the elected representatives can help influence legislation through debates in the State Assembly and during party meetings.

In short, our YBs are our “voices” and our “bridges” to the government.

But how many of our YBs are doing just that? Instead, many of them are trying to find businesses to enrich themselves and are only seen during election times.

On this score, I would like to mention one YB who has been helping the people who voted for him. I particularly refer to YB Abdul Karim Hamzah, the Member for Asajaya.

When he heard that more than 3,000 hectares of NCR land belonging to Ibans in his constituency have been allegedly leased to Chief Minister’s sister by the Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management, he went to see the Chief Minister.

He requested the Chief Minister to return the land to the land owners as they are his strong supporters who have ensured his victory in the previous elections.

The Chief Minister claimed that he did not know about it and agreed that the land be returned to the land owners starting from next February or March 2010.

This story was told by the YB himself during the Xmas and New Year visit to a friend of The Broken Shied.

This is the type of YBs that we need, the YBs who have courage to speak on behalf of their constituents and the ones who are not scared of losing their “periok nasi”.

But what are our Dayak YBs (and Dayak Ministers too) doing as many of NCR land in their constituencies have also been forcedly leased to big companies for the planting of oil palm, which also destroyed their fruit trees and cash crops and demolished their longhouses? – The Broken Shield


Thursday, January 7

Is SPDP moving backward or forward?

This is a question many observers are asking themselves after witnessing the SPDP’s recent triennial general assembly.

I was present at both the opening of Youth Wing by its deputy president Peter Nyarok 0n 28 December at the Grand Continental Hotel and also at the meeting of the main body at the Civics Centre on 29 December 09.

I could not believe what I heard coming from Nyarok and Tiong King Sing, the outgoing Youth leader and the treasurer general of the party.

Nyarok’s pantun of “Gelang emas si gelang intan, Dibeli teruna seorang budiman, pantang dicabar ayam tambatan, nanti merana sepanjang zaman” clearly warned Philip Ngo, the challenger not to fight him, a well-bred and seasoned local fighting cock, otherwise he would suffer for life.

Nyarok also labeled himself as a “rimau atas kerusi” (tiger on a chair) waiting to maul his opponent.

Tiong accused Philip as a “traitor” for contesting against Nyarok and considered such action as back-stabbing after the party supreme council had agreed to maintain status quo. Tiong wanted a disciplinary action to be taken against Philip.

Tiong repeated what he said at the meeting of the main body just minutes before the party election was to begin.

In fact Tiong in an angry and thunderous tone accused Philip of being sponsored by outsiders from another BN party. Although he did not identify the party, many think that he was referring to PBB.

Tiong also spoke of his financial contributions of hundreds of thousand of ringgit to the party and he never asked how the money was to be spent. So no one should question his statement of account he presented to the assembly.

From what I see, it is obvious that SPDP does not tolerate any challenge to the party leadership, thus cutting down young professionals to be fully involved in the party. This is not good as the young professionals may think that they are not wanted by the party.

Secondly, I notice that Tiong is really in control of the party and the way he spoke at the main body seems to me that he “is more than the treasurer general”. He is SPDP and SPDP is Tiong. As one delegate put it, “without Tiong this party ‘mati rangkai’ (die due to (financial) dehydration).

I am given to understand by those who went to China and Taiwan with Tiong was that the list of youth and the President line-ups were discussed.

After watching all this drama, one tends to ask oneself: Is SPDP becoming another SNAP or PBDS or even PRS, where one towkay controls the party? And what has happened to SNAP and PBDS and also PRS? – The Broken Shield


Saturday, January 2

Masing refuses to “own” SALCRA?

Since the beginning of January 2010, SALCRA which has been entrusted to develop NCR land from 1976 is now no longer under the Ministry of Land Development. It is now under Alfred Jabu’s Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture and Minister of Regional Development.

Masing’s close aides said that he met the Chief Minister a few months back requesting that SALCRA should not be under his ministry since Jabu refuses to step down as chairman of the SALCRA’s Board of directors.
As chairman, Jabu is allegedly behaved as if he is also chief executive officer of SALCRA, rendering Masing completely powerless.

It appears that SALCRA will follow whichever ministry Jabu is holding.

The Broken Shield asked Masing’s aides why he wants to disown SALCRA even though it is involved in land development.

According to the aides, SALCRA has financial, administrative and operational problems and any time the problems will burst to the top.

The aides claim that SALCRA has to use money given by the Federal Government and declares it as “dividends” to be paid to the scheme participants. There are more than 16,000 scheme participants.

Masing does not want to inherit the problems that have been created and to be blamed later on.

Isn’t it a pity that the scheme participants are made to suffer just because some people are greedy for power and money? And is MACC sleeping?– The Broken Shield