PBDSB: Govt must buck up efforts to recognise ‘Dayak’ as a race

Anthony Nais

SERIAN, March 6: Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) urges both federal and state governments to give the word “Dayak”, the force of law.

Its secretary-general Anthony Nais said there has been no significant move from the government since three years ago after the Federal Cabinet’s approval to add the term ‘Dayak’ into the list of recognised races in the country, representing the first step.

Anthony who was once PBDS Deputy Youth Chief in Dato’ Sri Daniel Tajem’s faction said the government should table an amendment in Parliament for it to have legal sanction.

“After that, it is for the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) to endorse Parliament’s decision. Once that is done, then “Dayak” as a race has the force of law,” Anthony said in a statement.

The way it is now, the term ‘Dayak’ is 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 move made by the government of Malaysia, yet Dayak representatives remain silent, claimed Anthony.

“Now, we must give it the force of law. The term ‘lain-lain’ is to accommodate others who refuse to be classified as Dayak or they are not members of the Malay, Chinese or Indian races,” he added.

He hoped that Parliament would table the amendment soon.

As for the state, it doesn’t matter who tables it, as long as it is done accordingly, Anthony said.

He also said the Dayaks do not want to be known as “others” or an “illegal race”, adding that the Federal Constitution’s definition of ‘natives’ also needed to be updated, to be consistent with the Sarawak constitution as 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 faced by the Dayaks. The question is, are they afraid or being trained to be afraid to voice out?” Anthony asked.

The Dayaks’ slow and lukewarm response to any issues that affect their community, in general, are partly the reason why the Dayaks are still lagging behind in many aspects, he alleged.

“We shall carry our own weight and not let others paddle for us. Be a general instead of foot soldier,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Anthony expressed his regret over the recent statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) on the amendment of the Syariah Court Ordinance (2001) to reach an administrative solution for apostasy cases.

“I’m suprised with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s sudden “u-turn”, while wide media coverage over the news has been made,” Anthony added.

On March 3, Abang Johari told reporters that the state Syariah Court Ordinance 2001 would be amended within six months to address administrative complications related to those wishing to renounce Islam.

In response to a report on Abang Johari’s statement carried by an online news portal, the CMO issued a statement on the same day emphasising that the proposed amendments were not to make it easier for apostates to leave the Islamic faith. — DayakDaily