Zuraida needs to understand longhouse chief selection process, says Tiong

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, July 31: Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin needs to understand the selection process of the tuai rumah, its related customs and practices.

Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said longhouse chiefs or village headmen in Sarawak are not appointed by the federal government, as they are chosen by their respective residents.

The name of the newly elected chief would be submitted to the state government for approval, he added.

The Bintulu MP also chided Zuraida for suggesting to the state government to gazette land or areas surrounding the longhouses, as recognition to the villagers as rightful landowners.

He believed that Zuraida had been misguided in the whole longhouse affairs when she criticised the state government.

“Zuraida wants Sarawak to abide by federal government policies but they are not geared towards the special circumstances as practised in Sarawak.

“This is not the place for the Pakatan government to practice their politicking to gain political mileage,”

“Instead of wasting her time politicising an integral matter unique to Sarawak, the minister should spend her energy addressing the worsening shortage of affordable housing in the country,” Tiong said in a statement.

He pointed out that issues relating to longhouses, land, rural affairs, as well as affairs of the Iban, falls under the jurisdiction of the state agriculture and native land ministry, led by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

On the matter of land for affordable housing in Sarawak, Tiong said Zuraida should consult the state government on its development plan.

He explained that there were many factors to be considered when looking for suitable land for affordable housing. He said there should be a compromise between the state and federal government on the allocation of land.

“Much of what the federal government are dictating (land acquisition) usually turns out to be private land or located within highly developed areas.

“If the state can only propose areas within urban or developed zones, how would it be possible to allocate suitable land for affordable housing if the federal ministry cannot compromise?” he continued.

Tiong was responding to Zuraida, who called on the state government to handle the allowance of tuai rumah in a more professional manner.

During her trip to Bintulu last weekend, the minister said the allowance to longhouse chief should be rectified and standardise, as they are legally and legitimately elected by the people of the longhouse.

She added that the state must recognise all elected tuai rumah regardless of their political affiliation.

During her meeting with the Persatuan Kebajikan Rumah Panjang Bintulu, she claimed that some tuai rumah told her that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak-led state government did not give them allowance, reasoning that they were not recognised, as they were appointed by Pakatan Harapan lawmakers. — DayakDaily