‘Federal govt should not take Dayak support for granted’

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

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KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing has urged the federal government to give due consideration to the Dayak community which has been giving its unwavering support to Barisan Nasional.

He stressed that the Dayak community should not be taken for granted but given due attention.

“The Dayak community in Sarawak has a track record of supporting BN. We deliver every Dayak-majority seat without fail, one general election after another.

“While we have been showing our unwavering support to the BN federal government, we hope the government will reciprocate by giving more development to the rural areas in Sarawak to benefit our rural population,” Masing told the DayakDaily today.

He said the new Dayak generation who is educated and well-informed is becoming more prominent and their aspirations are something that the federal government should not ignore.

“Our young people know what is going on in Peninsular Malaysia and what is happening in the world. We can’t expect to win their votes by mere rhetoric that the government cares for them when there are no funds for basic infrastructure such as rural roads, water and electricity.

“And now, if we fail to convince the young voters, we will also fail to convince the elderly voters because the latter’s votes will be influenced by their children.

“Putrajaya can and should no longer take the Dayaks’ support for granted,” said Masing who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister.

On June 15, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is also Finance Minister revealed that the government will hold consultation sessions to gather views and feedback from various stakeholders including NGOs in drafting the coming 2018 National Budget.

With more or less one month to go and the National Budget scheduled to be tabled on the Oct 27, interviews conducted by DayakDaily revealed that the views and input of Sarawak NGOs have not been sought for the coming budget thus far.

While none of the major league Sarawak Dayak NGOs interviewed have attended any consultation sessions as mentioned on June 15 by the Minister of Finance, the federal government, however, embarked on a ‘crowdsourcing’ campaign for the public to submit their opinions for the coming 2018 National Budget from Sept 4 until Sept 18.  

On Sept 21, Najib announced that the main request made by rural dwellers during the campaign is that they would like to be included in the digital economy.

Although this might be true and applicable to some areas within Malaysia, in rural Sarawak where many Dayaks still live without basic electricity and road connectivity, being included in the digital economy is a far cry from reality, which the Dayak NGOs would have no doubt revealed during any consultation sessions where their input is sought.

While nobody knows when these major league Sarawak Dayak NGOs will be invited to thrash out issues concerning Dayaks for the coming National Budget, it is hoped that there is still time for their opinions to be sought including on allocations required, to be included in the upcoming budget.