Suhakam Sarawak commissioner supports call to keep original coverage of WaiFM

Datuk Dr Madeline Berma

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Aug 11: The original state of WaiFM coverage should be retained across Sarawak as it encourages linguistic diversity and inspires unity based on diversity, opines Suhakam Sarawak Commissioner Dr Madeline Berma.

“It will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness and appreciate the rich linguistic and cultural traditions in Malaysia and to inspire unity based on understanding, appreciation and respect for diversity,” Madeline told DayakDaily when contacted today.

She reminded the authorities concerned that the freedom of opinion and freedom of expression is enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948).

“And the UN Resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world” (United Nations, 2007, p. 4),” she stressed.

She was commenting on Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) Rajang deputy chairman Tuah Lumpoh’s statement yesterday that the body has received many complaints from members of the public who have noticed that they were listening to only localised broadcasts since early August 2020.

“This means listeners in Miri for instance, can only listen to broadcasts from the Miri radio station but not from other stations state-wide.

“We also demand the return of a few popular radio programmes such as “Jerita Tuai” and other similar programmes that exhibit and revive the culture of the indigenous people in Sarawak, namely related to the Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities,” Tuah told DayakDaily yesterday.

Tuah pointed out that if WaiFM broadcasts were not resumed as usual, RTM Sarawak would lose its appeal and would remain a one-sided tool of information dissemination.

As such, Madeline said she strongly supports the move to bring back WaiFM as it is a popular programme and source of reliable information for its listeners, most of whom are Dayaks.

She also expressed her concerns that since Bahasa Melayu is the national language, the new generation of Dayaks where mother tongues are primarily a spoken medium, will eventually be ascribed low status.

“We must realise that local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.

“We must support all moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues, especially through the mass media,” Madeline added. — DayakDaily