KUCHING, May 31: Malaysians should always remember with gratitude the role that the Dayak people held in the police and armed forces in making the country safe and their significant contribution to the national economy.
This is the message that social activist Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon has to share in conjunction with the Hari Gawai Dayak celebration which starts tomorrow (June 1).
“The Dayak people, like other major ethnic groups, have made substantial contributions to the country. They are known for their great bravery in war, and their loyalty in peace time.
“The legendary Sarawak Rangers, the Border Scouts and the Iban Trackers had a special place in the history of this country for the outstanding role they played in maintaining law and order during the Brooke period, the British colonial administration, the Malayan Emergency, the Confrontation, and the unrest in the late sixties, making the country safe for all of us,” he said in a statement today.
To Ang, Gawai Dayak is very special, as it embodies the core of Sarawak’s essence, which is a multi-ethic, multi-religious, multilingual and multi-cultural community living in harmony, with everyone having a dedicated day in the year on which their particular customs, heritage, belief system and ethnicity is celebrated and honoured.
Officially gazetted in 1964, Hari Gawai Dayak is highly significant and special not only as a day of celebration for over 40 per cent of the nation’s population, but also in setting an example to the world at large of unity and harmony in a country with a multiplicity of customs, religions, ethnicities, and heritage.
Ang said Hari Gawai Dayak symbolised a policy of inclusion by celebrating differences, in sharp contrast to what is happening in so many parts of the world today where selective exclusion is leading to mayhem and destruction in struggles for hegemony.
“In some parts of the world, where you pray, where you come from, where you live, and what you believe in have become issues which divide peoples and resulting in conflicts and unrest in this turbulent and uncertain world.
“This day is a reminder that we must always be on our guard against divisive influences,” he added.
He noted that as the nation is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysians have been celebrating all national, religious and cultural events in the so called “new normal” for two years where physical contact is totally discouraged.
However, he said such was the short-term sacrifices requested from all citizens for the long-term benefit.
“In celebrating Gawai, let’s do our patriotic duty by doing it privately among immediate family members only, and we can virtually celebrate it with friends and relatives via Zoom, Face Time or a mere phone call. It is the thought that counts at this challenging time.
“To the legendary brave and loyal Dayaks and families, I wish you all a blessed, safe and Happy Gawai Dayak,” he said. — DayakDaily