No “ngabang” this Gawai please, appeals Uggah

Uggah at a press conference to update Covid-19 situation in Sarawak today (May 29, 2020).

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, May 29:  State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas appeals to Sarawakians not to go “ngabang” (Gawai visiting) this year to cut off the chain of Covid-19 spread.

He said longhouses are different from Malay houses where the former may be made up of 50 to even 100 doors.

Citing his own longhouse which consists of 20 doors, he said if each time 20 guests were to allow to visit, it would mean 400 visitors in the longhouse.

“So if we were to allow 20 persons to come to visit, when there are 20 doors, do your maths, you multiply 20 doors by 20, there will be 400 human beings.

“So the situation in the longhouses is not the same as that in the kampung (Malay villages) where there are individual houses.  So we decided that there should be no ngabang.  Let it (Gawai celebration) be done within the family, within the longhouse.

“Because it can be out of control.  So we apologise for making the restriction but it is done with the very noble objective of trying to cut off the Covid chain,” said Uggah in a press conference to update Covid-19 pandemic in Sarawak today.

He said this to clarify the reason why SDMC decided to prohibit town folks returning to their villages to celebrate Gawai Dayak this year, and also the decision of not following Putrajaya’s policy of allowing each family to receive 20 guests at one time.

The Deputy Chief Minister stressed that the longhouses nearer to urban areas might be “shorter” and those in the more remote interior may be up to 50 doors or even 100 doors, where the consequences may even be more devastating should anyone of the visitors is a positive case.

He pointed out that presently most rural areas in Sarawak are still free from Covid-19 and it is the responsibility of all to help to maintain that.

Citing the Belawai case, Uggah said he did not return to his longhouse despite requests from his voters

“That is why I can’t go back to my longhouse, even though my voters wanted me to go back.  (Even though) It is time for me to be with them.  I told them I cannot because this is not a normal time.

“Because as you can see like the Tanjung Manis (Belaawai) case, the patient came from the town.  This is what we are trying to stop, so I hope the public will understand,” said Uggah.

On May 24, a female private college student who had returned to her hometown in Belawai near Tanjung Manis was tested positive for Covid-19.

As of today, out of the total 428 persons-under-surveillance (PUS) cases in Sarawak, 339 are related to the Belawai Covid-19 positive case. The effort to locate those in contact with the female student is still in progress.

Uggah expressed appreciation for those in longhouses who have put up big notices telling outsiders not to visit.

“It looks very unfriendly but that reflects that they understand if they can prevent outsiders from coming in, they can stop break the chain of spread (of Covid-19) because a lot of residents in rural areas are elderly people and young children who are the high risk groups,” said Uggah. -DayakDaily