By Peter Sibon
MIRI, Jan 10: Have you heard about a Bidayuh kampung in the heart of Miri City?
If you have not, then here is a short introduction of the first ever Bidayuh village established outside Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions.
The Kampung Bidayuh, Miri was established by Edwin Khoo, 76, who is fondly called ‘Babeh’ (which means grandfather in Bidayuh Serian dialect) Khoo by his community.
He had left his village of Kampung Muara Ahi, Serian and moved to Miri with his family in search of greener pasture in the 1970’s.
By 1993, he realised that there were many Bidayuhs who have moved to Miri to seek job opportunities. At that time, Miri’s economy was booming not only with the emergence of oil palm plantations but also in the oil and gas industry.
“By 1993, I have started to clear certain areas here in Kampung Bidayuh, Lusut. After that, I found out that the land belonged to the State government.
“So, I met up with the Land and Survey officers here in Miri to apply for a piece of land for the setting up of a Bidayuh village to accommodate the growing number of the Bidayuh population in Miri.
“With the help of DBNA (Dayak Bidayuh National Association) chief advisor Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong, we managed to acquire a piece of land to set up our very own Bidayuh kampung here,” Khoo told DayakDaily when met at Kampung Bidayuh here recently.
Now the village is thriving with over 400 individual lots distributed not only to the Bidayuhs but also to other races such as the Orang Ulu and the Iban communities.
“But we still maintain the name ‘Kampung Bidayuh’ as it was alienated as a Bidayuh village,” explained Khoo.
As a pioneer in establishing the Bidayuh village in Miri, Khoo encouraged the villagers to set up a cultural club to preserve their identity and heritage.
Now, ‘Kelab Kebudayaan dan Rekreasi Bidayuh Miri’ (KKRBM) has been set up to preserve the culture and heritage of the community.
KKRBM protem chairman Dr Anselm Diye, 56, who hailed from Kampung Krusen Serian, said his committee has applied to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to register the club.
“Our main reason to set up KKRBM is to unite the Bidayuh community in Miri through cultural, recreational and knowledge exchange by creating opportunities for idea sharing for the purpose of strengthening and preserving Bidayuh values and customs.
“Besides that, we also hoped that KKRBM can become an ideal example of a community with a strong cultural identity where members of all ages will appreciate and uphold Bidayuh values and customs,” said Anselm.
He also explained that the objectives of the setting up of KKRBM were threefold: to showcase and introduce the rich and vibrant Bidayuh culture and instilling its cultural values in the members; to provide lessons and courses to members and others who are keen to learn Bidayuh dances, cooking, weaving, sewing, music playing, and singing.
It is also to document all and any information related with Bidayuh history, culture, values, and lifestyle for the purpose of preservation and conservation.
“Our logo symbolises the Bidayuhs of Bukar-Sadong, Biatah and Jagoi have united to protect and preserve the similarities and idiosyncrasies of the Bidayuhs from the three regions.
“It also symbolises the pride that the Miri Bidayuhs have for their culture and history,” he said.
He said that the three colours of the logo, namely red, symbolises the fearless members who proudly embrace their culture and boldly make it known to others; yellow symbolises respect among members where Bidayuh values are instilled to develop personal integrity and accountability and black symbolises enduring loyalty and kinship.
Anselm reiterated that KKRBM will continue to collaborate with DBNA on matters close to the hearts of the Bidayuh community.
Khoo acts as the advisor of KKRBM.-DayakDaily