Gawai Dayak is just around the corner. In conjunction with the celebration, I would like to write an article on the Dayak Community... Lately so much has been discussed about the term dayak. It all started when Datuk Joseph Entulu, a Rural and Regional Development Deputy Minister on 10th May 2009, proposed that the term dayak should be dropped and replace with Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyah..etc. He made such a stupid and uncivilized proposal when met by the reporters after witnessing the installation of the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) Rajang Branch new committee members led by its chairman Maj (Rtd) Mosses Ripai. According to Entulu, the term should be dropped because it conveyed negative connotations like being uncivilized, uncouth and “low class. Other than that according to Entulu, the term dayak had not been acknowledged according to their respective ethnic groups. According to Entulu, the term dayak should be also abolished because it was not nationwide recognized. He quoted an example where Dayaks working in the peninsula were turned away when they wanted to invest in the Amanah Saham Nasional or when they applied for low-cost housing because some people there thought they were not bumiputra. To strengthen his call, Entulu said that some leaders of Sarawak non-Muslim communities had some years ago suggested that the government stop using the term. He strongly believed that the suggestion has the tacit support of the leaders and the people concerned. Response From The Dayak Communities Most of the dayak community leaders and individual that met and asked to comment on Entulu proposal, had in total disagreement with him. Some even suggested that Entulu should be stripped off his deputy minister post. They believed that Entulu is holding the post on dayak ticket. Some of the dayak leaders (political and NGO) that met and opposed to Entulu proposal were :-
Dato Sri Dr James Jemut Masing
- Self-Proclaimed PRS President
- Responsibled for diregistration of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak
- Entulu Boss
- Comments - Disagreed with Entulu and added " The colonial powers could not have coined the term Dayak because it was an existence long before they set foot in Sarawak. The term used in this context is a generalised term that covers three main non-muslim bumiputeras - Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu.
Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu ak Numpang
- Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak
- Responsible for Dayak Marginalisation by Taib Mahmud government
- Comment. Not available for Comment as he was still in National Heart Institute (IJN)
- Secretary General of the Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF) and President of Bung Bratak Heritage
- Comments - Since time immemorial, the Bidayuh have referred to themselves as Dayak that literally means people. The notion that the word was coined by anyone, or for that matter, the colonial power, has little basis.
Dato Celestine Ujang ak Jilan
- Former State Minister
- Comments - The term Dayak has been been widely accepted and establihed in this country. Whoever suggests that it should be dropped must be crazy.
Patrick Rigep Nuek
- Author and Expert on Bidayuh Culture
- Comments- As a Bidayuh, If I were to say the term Dayak was uncivilised, uncounth and low class, then I would be suffering from inferiority complex. It shows I am not proud of who I am and What I represent.
As far as the history is concerned, the term dayak has been used by the Dutch, Portuguese back in 1600s to describe the natives of Borneo ; in Kalimantan and Sarawak.
The best example for us to look at in the usage of term dayak is our brother in Kalimantan Indonesia. During Suharto rule, just like us, they were also marginalised. Their land were taken away from them for timber, oil-palm plantation and gold mine by Suharto and his cronies.
But after the fall of Suharto , with the new order, they formed-up Dayak Association. One of such association that has been very succesfully in unite the Dayak is Lembaga Musyawarah Masyarakat Dayak dan Daerah Kalimantan Tengah ( LMMDD-KT) in Kalimantan Tengah. Nowadays Dayak in Central Kalimantan (or Kalteng) has better representation in the government, even the governor is a Dayak.
The top Dayak Communities -Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu etc.., should forget about politicking for personal gain but start to work for the communities. At present most of our leaders are willing to sacrificing the survival of our communities in order to gain personal interest. The best example is Jemut Masing himself. He has willing to sacrifice his political ambition (of course to fight for the right of the Iban community) after given the ministrial job by Pehin Seri Taib Mahmud, Malaysian longest serving Chief Minister/Menteri Besar.
As for Joseph Entulu, for his stupid proposal he deserved with the most severe punishment that is on exile to the "no man land" (as he is no longer belong to the dayak).....
Please stay tune with my next posting entitled " Dayak Marginalisation by Taib Mahmud’s Politic of Development Could Trigger Communal Violence in Sarawak – Lesson learn from Madurese and Dayak Conflict in Kalimantan Indonesia 2001"
"Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban"