By Karen Bong
MIRI, Dec 15: It is the quality of leadership rather than quantity that matters and this will create impact within the Orang Ulu community even though they are a minority ethnic group in Sarawak, asserts Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Thus, he urged the Orang Ulu community to stay united and strengthen itself under their current crop of leaders who are equipped with the capability to develop the community.
“This is really a place for you to deliberate, for you to look at your future in this different era. Or else we will become static and cannot move forward.
“But I see that the leadership in Orang Ulu community, their YBs who are present here today, they can find ways to enhance the culture of the Orang Ulu together with others (races),” he said in praise of the Orang Ulu, before officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of buildings of the Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Sarawak Malaysia (Forum) here today.
While there was a need to take cognisance of the size of the community, Abang Johari however pointed out that they have the quality of numbers which must be preserved.
With today’s ceremony marking the start of the construction of the soon-to-be-‘home’ of the Orang Ulu community, he said it will become a symbol of honour for the Orang Ulu in preserving their culture as well as an avenue for them with which to pave their future.
This initiative to build houses for different races in Sarawak, he emphasised, started many years back and followed the resolutions determined during a cultural seminar that united the diverse communities together, culminating in them requesting for their own building.
“It began from the era of Tun (Pehin Sri) Abdul Taib Mahmud which was followed through by the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and then me.
“They needed a platform for exchanges, to rationalise and to get new ideas in developing and enriching respective communities, be it culturally, socially or economically. It is not for the purpose of pride but a place to deliberate on the challenges faced and to find solutions to them in this new era.
“So I find ways to help and today, this has been realised. I delivered the headquarters for the Orang Ulu (today),” he said.
Other communities in Sarawak have similarly benefitted with the Malay community soon having Wisma Melayu Sarawak while the Dayak community will benefit from a few buildings under Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF), Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA), and the Chinese community under the Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations.
Emphasising he was very proud of what Sarawak is today, Abang Johari said the way Sarawak’s diverse peoples understand respect for each other’s culture are Sarawak’s value and asset which are not found elsewhere.
“That’s why we can officiate this (building ceremony) because we have no problems (doing so) unlike others who are still fighting for leadership which leads to instability and would only be a disadvantage to us,” he added.
He hope the new buildings for Forum will become a resource hub for all to discuss and plan for the future.
“We have established a Highland Development Agency (HDA) with a RM1.5 billion budget to spur the development in this area.
“This is for the long-term plan. It will not stop at RM1.5 billion only. If you give me the power after this state election, we will give you another RM1.5 billion because if we have revenue, we give back to the people but planning must be long-term that will bring impact to all in the HDA areas,” he said.
Forum advisor and its building committee chairman Datuk Gerawat Gala, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Assistant Minister of Women and Early Childhood Development Datuk Rosey Yunus, Lambir assemblyman Ripin Lamat, Forum president Kennedy Chukpai Ugon, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau and Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang were among those present. — DayakDaily