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KUCHING, Sept 26: Three steps need to be taken before the word ‘Dayak’ as a race has the force of law, but so far only Step 1 has been taken — three years ago.
Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) secretary-general Anthony Nais lamented that nothing significant happened after the federal cabinet approved three years ago to add the term ‘Dayak’ to the list of recognised races in the country.
Anthony opined that Putrajaya should have taken Step 2 by making the necessary amendments in Parliament.
“The third step is for the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) to endorse Parliament’s decision. Once that is done, then the term ‘Dayak’ as a race will have the force of law,” he said in a press statement.
Anthony said what happened three years ago was just an “administrative decision” by the federal cabinet so that Dayaks do not have to use the term ‘lain-lain’ (others) in government forms.
“There is no paradigm move made by the government of Malaysia, yet our Dayak representatives remain silent.
“We must now give it the force of law. The term ‘lain-lain’ is to accommodate others who refused to be classified as Dayak or they are not members of the Malay, Chinese or Indian race,” he opined and hoped the federal government would take Step 2 soon.
As for the state, he said it did not matter who table it in DUN “so long as the job gets done”.
“We do not want to be known as an ‘illegal race’ when we called ourselves Dayak. Doesn’t that sound illegal?” he asked.
Anthony added that the Federal Constitution’s definition of ‘natives’ also needed to be updated to be consistent with the Sarawak Constitution, where the term ‘Land Dayaks’, ‘Sea Dayaks’ and ‘Muruts’ have been updated as ‘Bidayuhs’, ‘Ibans’ and ‘Lun Bawangs’ respectively.
“These are one of the many challenges facing the Dayaks. The question is, are they afraid or being trained to be afraid to voice out?” he wondered.
Anthony commented that the Dayak community’s slow and lukewarm response to any issue affecting their people is partly the reason why Dayaks are still lagging behind other races in many aspects.
“We shall carry our own weight and not let others paddle for us. Be a general instead of foot soldier,” he said.
On another matter, Anthony regretted the recent announcement made by the Chief Minister’s Office on the amendment of the Syariah Court Ordinance (2001) to reach an administrative solution for apostasy cases.
“I’m surprised when the chief minister suddenly makes a “U-turn” when wide media coverage over the news has been made. Which one should the rakyat rely on?” he asked. — DayakDaily