KUCHING, Dec 20: Some 1,500 new ketua kaum comprising tuai rumah, ketua kampung and kapitan are expected to be appointed statewide by February next year.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said they were in addition to 468 others who had been identified and would be appointed or reappointed soon.
“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had advised that the new Ketua Kaum be appointed properly and based on existing SOP (standard operating procedure),” he said at a meeting with 22 Iban ketua kaum and ‘ketuai genturong’ (settlement chief) in the Kuching district at his office here today.
The group was led by Temenggong Datu Bernard Agan, who is Kuching Iban community paramount chief, Pemanca John Tambi and six penghulus.
He pointed out that the people concerned would be choosing these leaders themselves.
“We hope the people will choose carefully. We hope there will be minimal tussle for the position as this can lead to longhouse splitting up over any disagreement or dissatisfaction.
“Similarly, we cannot delay the appointment as this can create problems for the rakyat,” he said.
When the appointments have been carried out, Uggah disclosed that there would be about 5,900 ketua kaum in the state.
Meanwhile, he advised all the Iban ketua kaum in the Kuching district to reorganise their respective Village Security and Development Committees (JKKKs) to further strengthen themselves to be effective in serving the people.
He also suggested that they update their respective settlement profile to facilitate the implementation of government development programmes and assistance.
Uggah, who is also the Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development, urged the community leaders to get their community to adopt precision farming and other latest methods such as fertigation and hydroponic as a mean to raise income, as there will always be big demands for food in the city.
“These methods are ideal as they do not require much land or labour. We can organise the relevant courses to acquaint those interested,” he said, adding that women folks too could take up biscuit making and embroidery.
On other issues, Uggah said the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) has been tasked with scouting for an alternative site for the Kuching district Iban community’s new cemetery.
“Although a state land site had been identified and approved by the government in Bau, it had to be shelved due to opposition from local leaders who felt that Bau already have many burial grounds,Meanwhile, Bernard informed that 40 out of the 63 squatter families at the Chawan Road SDNU cemetery here had agreed to be relocated.
“They, however requested for assistance from the government in regards to the payment of the deposit at their new homes.
“They have also requested for financial aid in transporting their belongings. The other 20 families have decided to stay put as they felt they would be unable to pay the RM150 monthly rent at the new place,” he said.
While they also feared they will have to incur transportation costs in commuting to their current work place, Bernard however noted that sooner or later, all of them will have to move out as the place is a cemetery and not fit as human residential area.
He cited three individuals, a visually impaired couple and a single mother without steady monthly income, among those who have raised issues on relocation.
Uggah also presented cheques for special assistance totaling RM250,000 to 22 Iban community leaders and settlement chiefs. He assured that state government is prepared to assist others yet to receive such assistance. — DayakDaily