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KUCHING, Nov 23: The organisers of the recent Native Customary Rights Land Peaceful Rally on Nov 13 expressed their utmost gratitude to the police for their professionalism and show of presence in maintaining peace and order of the public attending the rally.
“It has been a week now. So far the police have not called us in for investigation after the rally. That means the police are satisfied with the outcome of the rally and all conditions set out for us have been met and complied with,” Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia)secretary-general Nicholas Mujah Ason said in a press statement today.
“We are thankful to the police for facilitating us during the rally and deeply impressed by the professional conduct of the police. We are also impressed by the large number of participants who came from as far as Lawas and Kapit even though that day was a working day.
“We are glad to note and thank the volunteers and all committee members who strived extremely hard in ensuring the rally was a success, who helped the police so that no untoward incidents happened and who picked up rubbish and swept the Old Courthouse grounds after the rally. We would also like to thank those who gave moral support even though they weren’t able to come. All your good efforts have contributed much in portraying the IP (indigenous peoples) of Sarawak as a caring, peaceful and law-abiding community in the eyes of the world.”
The Nov 13 rally was organised by SADIA and various IP groups for the IP communities themselves. Over 3,000 participants attended the rally to lend support.
The organisers said they were expecting elected representatives and ministers from both sides of the political divide to attend the rally without prejudice to mingle and attend to the needs of the IP affected. This simple act of attendance would have meant a lot to the IP upon seeing their representatives going to the ground to meet and join them.
“We would like to reiterate that the recently held peaceful rally on 13 Nov 2017 was never politically motivated. It is a people-issue where indigenous people of all walks of life, from all ethnicities and from all political leanings gather together to show solidarity in defending a common issue affecting the common indigenous people of Sarawak”, said Bill Jugah, one of the coordinators.
He added, “Indigenous people of Sarawak are not confined to the Dayaks only. The Malays, Melanau and Orang Ulu to name a few, are indigenous people too because they are the settlers of their land — their ‘pemakai menoa’, their ‘tanah pimu’ung’, their kampung reserve land and their territorial seas.
“As sons of Sarawak, we must move beyond our limiting beliefs that we are separated by creed and skin colour. We are all natives of Sarawak, born and raised in Sarawak. Where else can we go aside from toiling in our beloved motherland and contributing our sweat, tears and blood as equals ?”
The rally was deemed necessary due to the compounding land cases in court pending a fair and equitable decision.
Peter John Jaban, another coordinator added, “There are over 400 cases of land disputes currently pending judgement in court. This land issue is affecting all Sarawakians including the Chinese. Before this issue escalates into something unmanageable, we demand the government to look into the affairs of the IPs to reflect the government’s sincerity and good governance.
“We are here to remind the government that we the IPs support a fair government but despise a biased one. We hold no malice towards any people’s representative who genuinely work for the people. They are the government servants serving the people.”
Peter also stated that the IPs are not only facing land rights issues but also statelessness and religion problems. Peter and Bill are actively involved in assisting IPs in resolving their identification documents and religious status reinstatement.
On a recent development, while aware of various movements propagating the idea of Sarawak leaving Malaysia, they advised the public to hold their tongue and not to issue meaningless and thoughtless threats to leaders of the current government.
“Please accord respect to yourselves. Most of all, please respect the IPs by being professional, courteous and civil in whatever dealings, interactions and communications. To earn respect, we accord respect to others,” Bill said. — DayakDaily