Action taken to remedy WaiFM programming bodes well for future of indigenous languages

Datuk Dr Madeline Berma

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Aug 15: The reverting of the Iban WaiFM to its original programme is a significant move as it reflects that authorities are respecting and upholding the linguistic rights of the people, particularly the Dayaks, said Sarawak Suhakam Commissioner Dr Madeline Berma.

She added that the prompt action taken by Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Saratok MP Ali Biju to get the programme back to its original setting was a commendable effort to preserve the Iban language as it was the right of the community.

“The reverting of WaiFM to its original position is a significant move. It reflects the authorities are respecting and upholding the Linguistic rights of the people, particularly the Dayaks. Linguistics rights are human and civil rights concerning the individual and collective right to choose the language or languages for communication in a private or public atmosphere.

“This WaiFM case and the YB Ali Biju’s prompt response in addressing the issues, proves that linguistic and other human rights, needs parliamentarians who are dedicated and diligent in their representation of their constituents’ interests

“I would like to thank YB Ali Biju for his quick response to revert WaiFM to its original programme,” Madeline told DayakDaily today.

She was commenting on Ali’s statement yesterday whereby he had been told by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah of RTM’s decision to revert back WaiFM to its original programming.

She added that a prompt response from Ali and the authorities were necessary to combat language attrition where words become in danger of becoming obsolete, due to the drastic changes in rural-urban migration, national language and identity, social transformation, national development, and economic change.

“As Commissioner of Suhakam, I echoed the concerns of the individuals, NGOs, CSO. Also, I reminded relevant authorities on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which enshrined the right to freedom of opinion and expression. And the UN resolution on the preservation and protection of all languages.

“I would like to congratulate all those individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) who have voiced their concern about the decision to change WaiFM coverage programmes,” added Madeline.

The issue surfaced when Sadia Rajang deputy chairman Tuah Lumpoh and its chairman Bill Jugah highlighted the matter to DayakDaily last Monday.—DayakDaily