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SERIAN, March 11: The failure to legalise the word “Dayak” is part of the process of isolation, claims Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) secretary-general Anthony Nais.
Anthony said this in reaction to the statement from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun who said giving the term ‘Dayak’ the force of law is important but not urgent, and its inclusion in the Malaysian Constitution “does not ensure anything”.
Anthony in a statement today said he is not surprised with Entulu’s reaction as he was a Youth exco member and publicity chief under Entulu during the now defunct PBDS era.
“However, I am upset when Entulu lamented that that should he still remain as Selangau Member of Parliament after the next parliamentary election, and also if Barisan Nasional (BN) manages to get a two-thirds majority in Parliament, it is highly possible that he could talk to the Prime Minister on having the Bill tabled in the next term.
“What is he trying to address? Is he saying, that without him in the government, the word ‘Dayak’ will permanently have no force of law?” Anthony asked.
“We’ve gained independence for well over 50 years. What have all the elected Dayak leaders done to address the matter all these years? Only when other Dayaks raise issues (about matters which) are detrimental to the welfare and existence of the Dayaks, then these BN leaders quickly come out with comments merely for window dressing.
“I would like to remind Entulu, the Dayak communities have split. For the sake of Dayak unity and integration, please do something (to legalise the word ‘Dayak’), instead of pursuing it after the general election,” he said.
Anthony pointed out many Dayak lawmakers under BN have failed the rakyat, who gave them the mandate and elect them as their representatives.
Socially, culturally and traditionally, Dayak is the largest ethnic group in Sarawak, yet they are very much marginalised, he said.
The Interpretation Ordinance, 2005 has divide the race “Dayaks” into “Iban or Sea Dayaks” and “Bidayuh or Land Dayaks”.
Therefore, officially there is no such one race as “Dayaks” in Sarawak under the Interpretation Ordinance, 2005, he added.
“The Interpretation Ordinance 2005 Bill was tabled in the Sarawak DUN (State Legislative Assembly) on June 14, 2005. Tan Sri James Jemut Masing, Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and the other Dayak leaders were well aware of the passing of the Ordinance and its effect. Why was there no objection from these Dayak leaders then?” he asked.
Article 161A (6) and (7) of the Federal Constitution is written as:
(6) in this Article “native” means –
(a) In relation to Sarawak, a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the state or if of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races;
(7) The races to be treated for the purposes of the defination of “native” in Clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kalabits, Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Malays, Melanaos, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.
Hence, Ibans, Lun Bawangs and Bidayuhs are new terminologies and cannot be treated for the purpose of definition of “native”. Thus, the Ibans, Lun Bawangs and Bidayuhs subsequently lose their rights as specified under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, claimed Anthony.
“It means, the Ibans, Lun Bawangs and Bidayuhs, unless the amendment of the Interpretation Ordinance is allowed, surely they will lose their rights over native customary rights (NCR) Land and other privileges meant for the natives.
“My message to our Dayak leaders in BN is labeling the Dayak as “dan lain-lain” (‘and others’) in the race column of government forms has been insulting. To label them as “Bumiputra Iban” or “Bumiputra Bidayuh” or “Bumiputra Orang Ulu” is also not correct as there is no such race known as “Bumiputra”. However, given that the provisions in the Interpretation Ordinance, 2005 do not provide for the race “Dayak”, to label the Dayaks as “Dayak Iban”, “Dayak Bidayuh”, “Dayak Kayan” and so on is also not correct,” Anthony said. — DayakDaily