Monday, August 29

NCR Land perimeter survey: Ali Biju questions Government’s real intention

KUCHING: The state government’s real intention of carrying out perimeter survey of native customary rights (NCR) land is being questioned by a PKR state assemblyman for Krian, Ali Biju.

“Perimeter Survey, on the surface, looks like the Government is pretending to solve NCR problems, but in actual fact it is the Government which is actually creating the problem in the first place.

“Is this what Barisan Nasional is all about, hoodwinking the poor natives and robbing them of their ancestral lands in the name of development?” asked Ali, who is Sarawak PKR vice-chairman.

The PKR leader was commenting on a news report regarding NCR lands at Entebu, Selambung and Bajau Saratok covering an area of 1,024.8 hectares that have been declared as Communal Reserve Land under Section 6 of the Land Code effective from April 7, 2011.

The Section 6 status was granted to the natives in these areas after Perimeter Survey was conducted earlier this year on these lands.

“The natives of Entebu, Selambung and Bajau Saratok must be enlightened on the practical aspect of Section 6. They must be educated on the real worth of the land as Communal Reserve Land as compare to a titled land under Section 18 of the Land Code,” said Ali.

He said: “The danger of Section 6 which many native NCR landowners are not aware of is that once notice is issued under Section 6, the title issued is under the name of the community, not individual landowners.

“And effectively the land is held in trust for the Government by the community.

“Once this happens, this gives the Government the right to extinguish the rights of the landowners at any time and then pay them peanuts as compensation.

“This effectively downgrades NCR status,” Ali warned.

Directing his questions on the Minister in charge of land, Ali said: “Now, how about the rest of the much bigger NCR lands adjacent Entebu, Selambung and Bajau Saratok which are outside the Communal Reserve Land that have just undergone perimeter survey?

“Can the native landowners now feel relieved thinking their NCR lands are outside this perimeter survey? Or are these State lands by virtue of the perimeter surveys?

“Can Provisional Licenses be issued by the Government at its whims and fancies?”

“The rural folk of Krian who have legitimate rights over their lands demand answers, and it is my duty as their representative to demand these answers from the ruling government,” insisted Ali.

Do other Dayak YBs in BN really know the real aim of the perimeter survey? Or are they pretending to be ‘deaf and dumb’?

Friday, August 26

Dayak Re-awakening Seminar

Place: Grand Continental Hotel, Kuching

Date and time: 27 August 2011 at 1.30 pm

Organised by: Dayak Consultative Council

Four speakers:

(a) DAP as Dayak’s political platform – Leon Jimat

(b) NEP & increasing rural income - YB Chong Chieng Jen

(c) Managing Sarawak Natural resources – YB Richard Wong

(d) Enhancing the rights of the indigenous people of Sarawak – Dr. John Brian

All interested can attend the seminar.

Opar voters felt cheated

KUCHING: Feeling cheated and angry, the 8,099 voters of Opar Constituency have demanded their elected representative Ranum Mina of Sarawak United People’s Party to explain what has happened to the proposed rural growth centre (RGC) which has undergone two ‘earth-breaking’ ceremonies.

“We want to know what has happened to the RGC project which was promised us before the state election?” asked Boniface Willy Anak Tumek, voter of the constituency.

Speaking on behalf of the Bidayuh community in the area, he said: “They (the BN campaigners) told us that we can look forward to much better days ahead as the RGC will bring economic benefits on a scale previously unseen in Kampung Stungkor, Kampung Stom Muda, Kampung Raso 1 and 2, Kampung Bokah and nearby villages,” he said.

The proposed RGC which was to be cited at Kampung Stungkor, a predominantly Bidayuh village located along the Bau/Lundu road was supposed to be implemented under the 9th Malaysia Plan in order to boost the economy of the rural communities and to increase the income of the rural dwellers in and around the area.

It would be sufficiently equipped with the requisite infrastructures and amenities.

During the run-up to the May 2006 state election, a very grand earth-breaking ceremony was held at the site near Kampung Stungkor.

Officiating at the ceremony was Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. Those present included his deputy Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang who is the Minister of rural Development in charge of the RGC and a number of state ministers and government officers as well as the kampung people.

The grateful villagers reciprocated by giving their votes to the BN-SPP candidate Ranum Mina.

“Five years later the RGC remained a figment of the villagers’ imagination and the economic benefits promised mere wishful thinking.

“There is not the slightest hint that an earth-breaking ceremony took place there much less the facilities that were supposed to house the economic activities as promised,” said Boniface, who is now a member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

During the second week of April 2011, which was also interestingly a period of campaigning, another earth-breaking ceremony took place at exactly the same site and supposedly to mark the impending construction of the same RGC at Kampung Stungkor.

Again Taib Mahmud officiated at the earth-breaking ceremony, which was also attended by state ministers, government officers and the kampung folk including their community leaders.

“Believing that the state BN government will proceed with RGC, the Bidayuhs once again voted for Ranum for the second time.

“Four months now after the earth-breaking ceremony, the voters have not seen any sign of development.

“They are start asking whether the RGC will ever be implemented or not,” said Boniface, adding that times are not getting any better for the Bidayuhs in the constituency.

“Every day is a battle to make ends meet and the relentless upward movement of prices of essential goods is making the daily struggle even bitterer.

“They are greatly saddened by what they perceived as a betrayal of their hopes and dreams for a better future.

“They fear that history will repeat itself and that the RGC, together with the promised benefits will not see the light of day any time soon,” he lamented.

Reminding the state government and their elected representative, Boniface said that their memory is not short and that they remembered the promises made in the 2006 state election.

It would also do BN well to remember that they, the rural voters are intelligent enough to know when they are being taken for granted and when value is placed on their votes.

“We now demand that we be told immediately when exactly can we expect works to commence at the site, what facilities are going to be put up, the types of economic activities that the centre is targeting and how exactly we benefits from this centre,” Boniface said.

Then people, he said, are demanding that the facilities to be constructed at the centre be appropriately aligned and be made compatible with the products that can be easily produced by the majority of the rural people in that area,

“To ensure this, other government agencies like the department of agriculture, RISDA, FAMA and so on should be made to come up with matching initiatives for the area in line with the objectives of RGC,

“That way the production, the sale and marketing of the products will not become constraint on their capacity to generate and increase their income,” he said.

Meanwhile, Boniface said that there are 11 RGCs in the state implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development of which Jabu is the minister in charge.

“Millions of ringgit has been spent on the centres. Sadly, all these centres are either under utilised or being abandoned,” said Boniface.

“It is very sad that RGCs are being abandoned as we believe that such centres can help create economic opportunities for the rural people thus enhancing their income,” he added.

Tuesday, August 23

Don’t confuse us, say Penans

KUCHING: The Pelieran Murum Penan Action Committee (PEMUPA) together with 1,500 residents from seven Penan villages located at the Murum Hydro Electric Dam Project (HEP) demand that the Land and Survey Department immediately halts its current native customary land surveying works until clear and proper information are made available to them.

“We are making this demand because the information given to us by the Land and Survey Department is not clear and confusing to us, the Penans,” said PEMUPA Chairman Surang Alung.

He said in early August this year, a group of surveyors and officers from the Land and Survey Department started to survey and demarcate the land in the Murum HEP area.

The survey works which were done arbitrarily without the participation of the local residents became an issue to Penans when there is little or no information being given to them regarding the said works.

“Even if there is information given by the Land and Survey Department, it is very confusing, not consistent and at times conflicting. The information given differs from village to village.

“The officers of Land and Survey Department told us that not all of our lands will be surveyed even though it will be inundated by the waters of the dam later.

“They further went on to say that only three acres of land will be surveyed for each family, while some villagers were even told that only their fruit gardens will be surveyed,”
Surang said.

“We were also told that only our temuda lands which we have cultivated before 1958 will be surveyed. All the temuda lands cultivated after 1958 belong to the state. Besides that, we were also told that aerial photographs will be used to demarcate our lands.

“We would like to state here that the areas which are affected and will be inundated by the Murum HEP are the native customary lands of the Penans.

“We have occupied and lived in the Murum, Peleiran and Danum since time immemorial. During all this time, our ancestors were living a nomadic life. Because of our nomadic lifestyles we have a lot of old camp sites (la’ lamin), historical sites, grave sites (tanem), sacred sites, etc all over the Murum HEP area.

“We have occupied this area before the arrival of the Brookes and continued to occupy this area up to the present government,”
said Surang, pointing out that the Murum project will inundate 24,500 hectares of the Penan’s customary land.

“If the government uses the 1958 cut-off point as an indicator of native customary rights claims for our temuda and fruit gardens, then this is not fair for us. We cannot accept this cut-off point as it is not logical for us to lead a sedentary lifestyle before 1958 as we were still nomadic during that time.

“As long as our community is not given clear and proper information and our views and concerns are not taken into account, then the survey works for each Penan village will be facing more problems and the issue will not be solved,”
he warned.

“We want to make it clear here that we want all our lands to be surveyed. It is important that our gardens, fruit orchards, temuda, pulau galau, communal forest, grave sites etc be included in the survey.

“We also want our tana pengurip (ancestral domain) for each Penan village which is going to be inundated by water to be surveyed,”
he said.

The Penan villages affected by the Murum HEP are Long Wat (82 families with 339 people), Long Malim (45 families with 211 people), Long Singu (64 families with 265 people), Long Tangau (28 families with 107 people), Long Luar (52 families with 189 people) and Long Menapa (39 families with 167 people).

Also affected is the Kenyah Badeng village of Long Umpa (35 families with 197 people).

Monday, August 22

Ibans in the Federal Civil Service

KUCHING: There are only 13,882 Ibans and 7,108 Bidayuhs in the Federal departments and ministries out of 601,862 Malays and 57,578 Chinese.

These figures were released by the Prime Minister Department in reply to a question raised by the MP for Bandar Kuching Chong Chieng Jen.

During the recent sitting of Parliament, Chong had asked the Prime Minister to give the total number of civil servants in all the ministries and the racial breakdown of Malays, Chinese, Iban and Bidayuh up to 31 March 2011.

“Based on the reply given to my question in Parliament there is a big discrepancy between the Malays and Chinese, Iban and Bidayuh civil servants,” he said.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should improve the racial composition of the civil service if he is really serious about implementing 1Malaysia concept.

“He has been shouting about the concept for the past two years, and yet the racial composition between the Malays and Chinese in government departments has not improved,” said Chong who is Sarawak DASP Secretary and state assemblyman for Kota Sentosa.

Quoting the reply, Chong who is the MP for Bandar Kuching said: “In the Prime Minister Department, there are about 31,297 Malays to 797 Chinese or 39.27:1. This is about two percent.

“And there are only 412 Ibans and 279 Bidayuhs in the PM department.

“The worst is in the Rural and Regional Development Ministry where there are 2,442 Malays to 18 Chinese or 135.67:1 or less than one percent of the Chinese, and 26 Ibans and 18 Bidayuhs,
” he said.

Among the ministries mentioned by Chong included the following:

~ Ministry of Youth and Sports 2,980 Malays to 32 Chinese, 27 Ibans and 21 Bidayuhs;
~ Ministry of Home Affairs 40,263 (M) to 614 (C), 823 (I) and 476 (B);
~ Ministry of Works 6,221 (M) to 156 (C), 21(I), and 9(B);
~ Ministry of Health 130,106 to 9,500 (C), 3,657(I) and 1,894 (B);
~ Ministry of Finance 15,835 to 508 (C), 247 (I) and 155 (B);
~ Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1,215 to 53, (C), 7 (I) and 6 (B);
~ Ministry of Education 273,791 to 43,669 (C), 7,379 (I) and 3,434 (B);
~ Ministry of Tourism 455 to 19 (C), 6 (I) and 6 (B);
~ Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development 5,461 to 75 (C), 75 (I) and 42 (B);

~ Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture 8,839 to 402 (C), 231 (I) and 134 (B);

~ Ministry of Higher Education 15,012 to 334 (C), 84(I) and 54 (B);
~ Ministry of Transport 9,028 to 205 (C), 198(I) and 168 (B);
~ Ministry of Defence 12,078 to 113 (C), 123 (I) and 76 (B);
~ Ministry of Housing and Local Government 11,363 to 173 (C), 201 (I) and 88 (B);
~ Ministry of International Trade and Industry 785(M) to 29 (C), 7(I) and 4(B);
~ Ministry of Domestic Trade, and Consumer Affairs 2,645 to 47 (C), 43 (I) and 23 (B);
~ Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry 8,826 (M) to 206 (C), 54 (I) and 45(B);
~ Ministry of Entrepreneur and Commodity 195 (M) to 5 (C), 0 (I) and 0 (B);
~ Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation 3,596 (M) tyo 240 (C), 48 (I) and 48(B);
~ Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 11,849 (M) to 227(C), 108(I) and 67(B);
~ Ministry of Human Resources 6,457 (M) to 129(C), 98 (I) and 60 (B);
~ Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water 553 (M) to 19(C), 5(I) and 0(B);
~ Ministry of Federal Territory 570 (M) to 8 (C), 2(I) and 1(B).

Total 601,862 (M) to 57,578 (C), 13,882(I) and 7,108(B).

Pointing out that these are some of the examples, Chong said: “This clearly shows such unbalanced racial composition in the various government departments and ministries.

“It also clearly shows Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan is a mere slogan. There is no concrete policy to implement the concept,”
he said, adding that he had been shouting about it for the last two years.

He said: “There is no improvement in the racial composition based on the racial breakdown in the government departments. Even in his department it is worse than the average.

“It shows that Najib is not the prime minister for all, but the prime minister for one single race,”
Chong said.

It should be interesting to know how many Ibans and Bidayuhs in the State Civil Service. Can any Dayak state assemblyman ask such a question?

Sunday, August 14

Environmental disaster?

KUCHING: Dr. Elie Luhat, whose field of study is environment and forestry, warns of environmental disaster in the Bakun dam in the next three to five years as recommendations made in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports are not followed.

“There was a study of EIA reports where recommendations were supposed to be made; somehow when the implementation was done such recommendations were forgotten,” alleged Elie who is the chairman of Bakun Community Safety Committee (BCSC).

Elie who told The Broken Shield said: “One of the recommendations was that we get rid of as much as possible the biomass – the trees, branches, twigs, scrubs, and plants – before the dam is to be impounded.

“But they failed to get rid of all these. Over the years, these trees, branches and twigs will get rotten and become very toxic to the water and fish.

“If you look at the EIA reports, and if they are not removed, such toxic can cause environmental disaster in three to five years’ time,” he warned.

“We have to anticipate this (disaster) will occur, but they are not observing all these things,” he said, pointing out that one of the fish that will be affected will be the ‘empurau’, Sarawak’s most famous and expensive fish.

A kilogram is worth between RM600 and RM800.

Elie was asked to explain that the change of biodiversity not only harmful to human beings, but also to the environment in the Bakun dam.

He praised the authorities for helping to move the wild animals to higher ground because of the area, the size of Singapore, would be submerged after the impoundment of the dam.

“But they should do more than that. The sad thing is to me is that they never think about what to do with fish like ‘empurau’.

“We spent a lot of money moving the animals to the higher ground, but they never think of what to do with the fish which will also be affected by the impoundment.

“The fish like animals and human beings are also affected by change of environment. When the area is submerged, all natural or wild fruit trees such as for example ‘ensurai’ which is the food for the ‘empurau’ will be submerged and destroyed. The ‘empurau’ will also be suffering.

“We should also think of providing them with food,” he said, pointing out that before the impoundment of the dam, there were a lot of empurau in the rivers.

“No one has thought of that. The fish have now gone up river not only to look for food, but also oxygen as the level of oxygen in the dam has changed. The deeper is the dam the less is the oxygen.

“Moreover, when it is too deep, the ‘empurau’ will not be able to withstand the pressure of water gravity,” he said.

Will Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu’s ‘empurau scheme’ to be launched in Bakun be affected?

Wednesday, August 10

Are the interests and needs of the Ibans neglected?

According to the Borneo Post today (9 Aug 2011), Second Finance Minister Wong Soon Koh pledged he would dedicate more time working for the Chinese community by going down to the ground.

Speaking in a dialogue with the Sibu Division United Chinese Association (UCA) on Sunday night, Wong is also Minister of Public Health and Environment said he wanted to ensure the needs and interests of the Chinese community were not neglected by bridging the gap between the people and the government.

“It is for this reason I shall go on tour of duty in towns throughout Sarawak to meet the Chinese community,” he said, pointing out that the dialogue in Sibu was his first stop.

“I started with Sibu because it is my hometown and I have a deep affection for the place I grew up,” he said.

In the process of helping the Chinese in Sibu, it is hoped that Wong, who is the assemblyman for Bawang Assan, will not neglect the needs and interests of the Ibans in the constituency.

In the last election Wong’s victory was due on the main to Iban voters, despite the fact that they have been neglected for the last 47 years or so.

Like other Chinese voters in Chinese majority constituencies, the majority of Bawan Assan Chinese voted against him. Wong won by a 1,808-vote majority.

Bawan Assan has 5,834 Iban voters as compared with 10,001 Chinese voters.

During the campaign for the Sibu by-election in May last year, we found out that the majority of Iban longhouses lack basic amenities such as medical care, water and electricity supplies and good roads.

Monday, August 8

The angry gods?

Dr. Elie Luhat, chairman of the Bakun Community Security committee, said that the people in Belaga attributed the deaths of 10 persons in and around Bakun dam were due to the fact that the state authorities failed to pay compensation amounting to more than RM2 million for their ancestral lands and their graves which have been submerged under water.

“The money is needed by the local people to appease gods after the jungle, ancestral lands and graves have been submerged.

“We need to offer some offerings so that the gods do not angry,”
he said. But the money has never been paid. As a result the ‘miring’ has not been performed.

Thus the spirits of the jungle and the spirits of the dead must be angry and curse those who do not respect them (spirits).

Adat (culture) is Adat. The government must respect the people’s Adat and belief whether they like it or not; or whether they share their belief or not.

And for James Masing, Land Development Minister urging the people not to believe that the deaths were due to the curse by the spirits was uncalled for, said a retired Police officer.

Masing said that the health department had confirmed that the deaths were due to melioidosis and leptospirosis and should not any way link to any spiritual belief.

“I believe that many of the Orang Ulu in the area are educated and should not believe the story,” Masing said.

“Let me remind Masing that his people of Baleh did perform ‘miring’ in December last year after the occurrence of logjam. I heard 14 pigs were slaughtered as ingredients of the offering (piring), with seven dead pigs were placed at each of the river banks. The people in the area should not pass the place within three days. That is Adat.

“These offerings were to appease gods or spirits after timber companies destroyed the jungle in Ulu Baleh and its tributaries. Because of this, landslides occurred causing logjam spreading from Kapit right up to Sibu. People lost their sources of income. Tonnes of fish of various species died due to suffocation,”
said the ex-officer.

More than RM100,000 was spent on the ceremony.

Is it not strange for Masing to comment on a speck on someone else’s eye, when a big log is found in his own eye?

Like Dr. Elie, Masing is also a PhD holder, so the question of so many Orang Ulu in the area being educated and should not believe stories on spirits do not rise, said the officer.

Wednesday, August 3

SDGA extends olive leaf to BN

KUCHING: After 10 years of animosity, Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) is ‘building bridge’ to the state government in the hope of helping them to launch its higher education relief fund by inviting top Barisan Nasional leaders.

Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party President (SPDP) and Social Development and Urbanisation William Mawan Ikom was invited to launch the project on Saturday 30 July 2011.

Top leaders from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) present at the function pledged donations to the fund.

Also attending the function were leaders from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, academicians, businessmen and civil servants.

SDGA President Dr. Dusit Jaul said: “Our leaders who are with us this evening are exemplary of matured politicians; they have set aside political differences to pursue a common cause, that is, education.

“It is obvious that our passion for education and pursuit of knowledge is able to bring us together. Taking a cue from this, we in SDGA will initiate more programmes and activities under the 4B concept – building bridges, breaking barriers,” he said.

He warned them of a new threat that may undermine the survival of the Dayak community, describing it as a new form of poverty of the 21st century - the knowledge poverty.

Jaul, who is INTAN (Institut Tadbiran Awam Negara) senior lecturer, said: “We are now into the knowledge-based economy. In the knowledge-based economy, knowledge itself is treated as a priceless commodity.

“When we have knowledge, we can sell it or we can rent it.

“In the old economy, we use to talk about tackling poverty. Through our government’s various programmes, we have managed to reduce poverty with some degree of success.

“However though, with the advent of the knowledge-based economy, what worries me is the rise of a new form of poverty – the knowledge poverty.

“If we don’t have knowledge what is there to sell and rent?” he asked, adding that they must buy the idea that in today’s world, knowledge is the most valuable commodity to be sold, and thus becoming a pathway to opportunity.

“In other words, knowledge is an effective weapon to compete in an increasingly globalised world,” he added.

He said: “Modern education is indispensible in sustaining Dayak survival in the 21st century. The day of reckoning is here.

“Our community cannot afford to relegate the importance of education if we are to progress alongside other communities,

“As far as our community is concerned, we in SDGA would like to see that our children agenda should move beyond party and ideology.

“Let us focus our collective resource to create hope for our youth; hope for those who aspire to become engineers, doctors, accountants, teachers, lawyers, and so on,” he said.

Talking of challenges during the 10th year of its existence, Jaul said that such challenges are internal, from within our community. One of these challenges is perception on the association.

“I would like to correct certain quarters’ perception or rather, misguided perception of SDGA.

“There are some quarters who perceived SDGA negatively to such extent that we are said to be not toying the line,

“To our detractors, let me say this. Article 3 of our rules and regulation clearly states that ‘SDGA is to cultivate and advance a learning culture among members of the society in the areas of education, socio-economics, technology and spiritual development’.

“In other words, SDGA is an association dedicated to the upliftment of Dayak educational attainment. Our core business is education. In 2009 and 2010, we conducted more than 40 programmes associated with our core business.

“Based on these achievements, it is not out of line for me to say that if there is still lingering doubt as to our professionalism and impartiality, it is because we have been steadfast in upholding the original objective of the association,” he said.

Jaul was referring to some ‘problems’ with particularly Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, who has some lingering doubts about the association which he accused of being anti-government.

Right from the start of its formation, Jabu had already clashed with the committee members of the association when his suggestion to make him as the adviser and the chief minister as the patron was turned down.

Since then the first president, Prof. Dr. Dimbab Ngidang had a hell of problems with the state government and Jabu. Even the RM50,000 promised by the state government during the launch of the association was never fulfilled.

He also demanded that SDGA apologised to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud for not inviting him to speak at a ‘poverty’ seminar in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 which was officiated by the then Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Jabu also accused SDGA for organising another ‘poverty’ seminar without consulting him on the date which he said clashed with the birthday celebrations of Tuan Yang Terutama in 2004.

The date of the seminar which was highlighting the ‘challenges and responses to poverty eradication among Bumiputera minorities in Sarawak’ according to Jabu, was disrespectful to TYT and an embarrassment to the Dayak community.

Jabu was also alleged to have played a role in the formation of Bidayuh Graduates Association (BGA) in an attempt to draw away Bidayuh graduates from SDGA and at the same time to undermine its influence.

Jabu’s continued bashes of SDGA including accusing its officials of anti-government killed all efforts at reconciliation.

Now with Dusit, a senior civil servant, helming the association supported by a corps of professionals with varied educational qualifications, SDGA should not become the ‘vanguard’ of the Dayaks moving towards the 21st century, but also become a ‘bridge’ between the community and the government particularly in the field of education.

Monday, August 1

Heroes “return’ home

The Borneo Post dated Thursday 28 July wrote in its story with the following introduction: “They fought and died for the freedom of their country. They were buried abroad and thought never to return. But some 50 years later, they are finally home.

“The 21 Iban trackers and Sarawak Rangers, who fought gallantly against the communists in the peninsula during the Malayan insurgency, were given top honours and accolades they rightly deserved during the burial of their remains at the Heroes grave of Jalan Budaya, Kuching.”

Historically, it is wrong to say that the Iban trackers fought and died for the freedom of their country. They were, in fact, mercenaries employed by the British to fight the communists in Malaya in the 50s.

Malaya was not their country. Malaya joined Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore to form Malaysia in September 1963. Later the trackers were absorbed into the Sarawak Rangers.

Bennett Jarrow of Kapit (he is my father-in-law) was one of those responsible for the recruitment of Iban trackers before and after 1950. Another one was Francis Bucking (or Baking).

Heroes like Menggong, Rentap and Kuyah, all from Lubok Antu walked all the way from Kanowit to Kapit to meet Jarrow.

Nothing has been mentioned about Jarrow’s involvement in recruiting the Iban trackers and later trained them in jungle warfare. However, his name is being mentioned in the war journals of the British Army.

Now we speak of these Iban trackers as heroes and honour them as well. But what about their immediate families? Anything for them?

Nothing! The government wants to politicise the whole thing and people like Alfred Jabu, Deputy Chief Minister blame DAP for not praising their (heroes) contributions to the security of this country.

Not only the families are not given anything, some of them have their native customary rights land taken away from them. Some have remained as poor, if not poorer.

Like Kanang Anak Langkau (the current hero), the families of these heroes should also be given land for them to farm or some monetary rewards as token of government’s appreciation to the families who have been suffering for more than 50 years.