KUCHING, Nov 20: Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) president Cobbold John Lusoi today called on Dayak-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil societies to make a stand on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
He said ICERD is now hotly debated in the peninsula by Pakatan Harapan (PH), United Malays National Organisation (Umno), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and Malay rights groups on whether Malaysia should ratify or reject it.
“While PH is agreeable for its ratification, the opposition, led by Umno, is strongly objecting to it.
“They claim that ratifying ICERD would mean eroding the Malays’ rights, which Article 153 of the Federal Constitution is safeguarding,” Cobbold said in a statement.
Cobbold said although Article 153 also safeguards the interests and rights of the natives of Sarawak and Sabah, it has not always been followed in the two Borneo states.
“That is why I call upon Dayak-based parties, NGOs and civil societies to make a stand on this very important issue,” he said.
He said PBDSB fully supported the ratification of ICERD by the Malaysian government and that the Sarawak government ought to back it, too.
Cobbold claimed that the Dayak community had been marginalised and neglected for far too long, be it in terms of business opportunities, employment in the civil service or in government-linked companies and in the awarding of government scholarships to qualified Dayak students to pursue tertiary education.
“We don’t see many Dayak professionals being appointed to head government departments or being appointed to key posts. Many are occupying third-level or even lower level positions before they eventually retire from the service,” he lamented.
Cobbold added that the native customary rights (NCR) lands are not totally protected under recently amended Sarawak Land Code.
He said Dayak-based parties and NGOs must make a stand and call on the federal government to ratify ICERD so that they could pressure the Sarawak government to be fair to all races in all aspects, including in the field of business and also employment in the state civil service and GLCs. — DayakDaily