Stop arguing, start working, minister advises Iban communities in Batang Ai

Rundi (centre) receives a souvenir from Tr Ninting Jantan flanked by Lubok Antu MP Datuk William Nyalau Badak (left), Batang Ai assemblyman Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (second left) and Assistant Minister of Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang (right).

LUBOK ANTU, March 26: Dayak communities in the rural areas are advised to break out of their comfort zones and seize whatever opportunities offered to improve their income and livelihood.

Utilities Minister Dato Sri Stephen Rundi Utom said the Dayak communities, particularly the Ibans have always been a little too reserved when it comes to seizing opportunities to earn more income and improve their livelihoods, preferring instead to argue with each other on who should get the opportunities.

Speaking during the launching of the Sarawak Alternative Water Supply (SAWAS) programme at Rumah (Rh) Ninting in Nanga Jambu, Batang Ai here on Sunday, Rundi said the Ibans should change this mentality, and instead of arguing with each other on who would get the bigger piece of the pie, they should compete with each other on getting the pie instead.

“For example, if one of your children can enter university, your neighbours will think that if your children can, so can his. We all live the same way, eat the same rice. Use this way of thinking to improve yourselves. Although the government is always assisting you, you cannot improve your livelihood if you don’t improve yourselves. There is no way other people can change your lives unless you do it yourselves. People can help but you have to take action.

“We also need to break out of our mentality that only certain communities are privileged. That is not right because if they can, so can we. We are all the same. In fact we can even be better. That kind of culture has been preventing us Ibans from going further. Do not be too humble to deliver. Take up the challenge and opportunities. We must be self-initiated and think of ways to improve ourselves.

“Also we are always fighting among ourselves on who can gain wealth, while other communities are busy seeking wealth, hence, we are left behind.

“Take up all the challenges and opportunities and don’t be afraid. Please approach your elected representatives with your ideas and suggestions if you want to delve into business or trading, or even further education. We will help all we can. We should not just settle for just being the worker. We must also be the owner,” Rundi told the hundreds of attendees at the function.

Rundi (standing second left) is ushered into Rh Ninting in Nanga Jambu, Batang Ai flanked by Batang Ai assemblyman Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (left), Assistant Minister of Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang (fourth from right), Tr Ninting Jantan (third right) and Lubok Antu MP Datuk William Nyalau Badak (second right).

He also emphasised on education and skill training for the younger generation from the rural areas, telling them to stay in school and advising parents to ensure their children have access to education.

“Send your children to school, and if you have the opportunity, even the ageing ones can go back to school (skills training). We must be willing to learn. Even if we are weak academically, there are skills training courses to take regardless of your age.

“So after secondary education, some of the youngsters will go to university. When they come back here to their longhouse during holidays, you can be proud of that and inspire more youngsters to follow suit. This is how you compete among yourselves — who or who’s children can go to university or have good jobs. Do not point fingers and blame anyone. Take your own initiative. There are ways, just think,” said Rundi.

He advised the locals to find ways to improve their income and prepare for Industry 4.0 which has been mooted by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in order to achieve a high income economy by 2030.

He said among the things mooted by Abang Johari was to improve the agriculture system, which the rural communities can adapt to to improve their income and livelihood.

Among other economic activities locals of Batang Ai could indulge in, Rundi suggested, was tourism.

“You also have good scenic environment here. Gear up and take up these opportunities to attract tourists and bring them around for longboat rides. Talk to your elected representatives on how to go about this, so we can bring this up to the tourism ministry and they can suggest tour packages to here as well,” he said.

Rundi also advised the Aiman Batang Ai Resort to improve its condition and facilities to be able to accomodate more tourists. — DayakDaily