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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, May 13: Kampung Sungai Buluh’s ‘tuai rumah’ (longhouse chieftain) Sili Bunsi has denied former journalist Joseph Tawie’s allegation that the cancellation of a proposed Gawai Dayak celebration with Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo at his village was due to pressure from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) elected representatives.
He told a press conference today that the decision was made by himself, following consensus from villagers during a meeting.
“It is not because of pressure from the elected representatives of Sadong Jaya constituency but a decision I made myself because the villagers did not agree to the Gawai Dayak celebration with a minister from the peninsula,” said Sili.
He narrated that it all began when a five-man delegation led by Ministry of Communications and Multimedia’s Special Functions officer for Sarawak, Dusit Jaul, came to see him recently to put forward this proposal.
He said if it was a regular Gawai Dayak, it would be fine, but when he was told on who would be attending as guest-of-honour, Sili said he had to discuss with the villagers first.
“We are not against any Malayans from coming here. We are just against the idea that none of our Sarawak leaders and elected representatives of our constituency were invited to this celebration,” said Sili.
On May 10, on his Facebook account, Joseph posted a statement accusing Batang Sadong MP Dato Sri Nancy Shukri of pressuring Sili not to agree with the proposed celebration because of political differences.
Joseph also alleged that GPS was politicising this issue, questioning Nancy’s authority being a non-Dayak telling a Dayak leader what to do.
Meanwhile, Nancy, who was also present at the press conference, denied having influenced Sili’s decision.
“By making such a statement, Joseph is engaging in an effort to defame me and, at the same time, put forward suggestive questions with implications that could have the effect of stoking tension among the local community of Sarawak, especially those in Batang Sadong.
“I would like to put on record that I have never issued any directive or instructions as alleged by Joseph. Instead, I was consulted by the aforementioned tuai rumah of Sungai Buluh on the Gawai Dayak celebration invitation to Gobind. The tuai rumah voiced his concerns to me and solicited for my opinion on the matter.
“I shared with him my opinion that if he was uncomfortable hosting the Gawai Dayak celebration with the minister, he could always proceed with the usual ways of celebrating the annual Gawai Dayak.
“Ultimately, I have re-emphasised to the tuai rumah that the final decision on who to invite rests with him, and he should make a decision that he himself is most comfortable with. I have never imposed anything on the tuai rumah as alleged by Joseph,” said Nancy.
Asked if she would take legal actions against Tawie, Nancy replied: “I have not come to that yet. What matters now is to get the facts right and tell the people first.” — DayakDaily