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Saturday, January 31, 2009

> Dayaks told to get rid of BN govt

A large group of Dayak intellectuals from the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities in Sarawak gathered for a one-day Dayak symposium in Sibu today to talk about the future and hopes of the Dayaks.

Organised by an independent group headed by an Iban lawyer cum politician, Augustine Liom, it was attended by some 200 people from throughout Sarawak at a local hotel.

The theme of the symposium was ‘Harapan Baru Untuk Dayak Sarawak’ (New Hope for Sarawak Dayak).

Among those present were the PKR state assemblyperson for Ngemah Gabriel Adit and well-known Orang Ulu lawyers Baru Bian and Paul Raja.

When opening the symposium, a former deputy chief minister and former president of the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak, Daniel Tajem, told the participants that the only way for the Dayaks to remedy the injustices they have suffered is by replacing the present Sarawak Barisan Nasional government.

In a highly moving 30-minute speech, Tajem, a former Malaysian envoy to New Zealand, said the Dayaks have suffered injustices for the past 45 years, been marginalised and even sidelined in education, distribution of scholarships and business opportunities.

"Their native customary rights land have been taken from them and given away to big companies," he was quoted as saying today by well-known Iban blogger Joseph Tawie in his blog.

Pointing out another act of injustice against the Dayaks, he said a bill had been introduced to change the name of 'Sea Dayaks' to Iban, 'Land Dayaks' to 'Bidayuh' and 'Murut' to 'Lun Bawang.’

Taking away their rights

"The head of state has not signed the bill which has been passed by the state legislative assembly," Tajem said, adding that "once it becomes law, it means that Iban, Bidayuh and Lun Bawang are no longer natives and will not enjoy the rights and privileges as embodied under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution".

"Even forming a party of our own as provided for under Article 10 (1) (c) is not allowed. We are being accused of being a threat to national security, public order, peace and harmony," Tawie quoted Tajem as saying.

"During insurgency, we are made heroes and during peace time, we are considered as a threat to national security. Can you believe that?" he said.

Tajem also touched on the amendments to Section 5 (a) (2) of the land code that has eroded natives’ rights over land.

Earlier, Liom said the ultimate aim of the symposium was to expose and deliberate on the many sins of the Barisan Nasional government that have caused "misery to the Dayak communities, be they Bidayuh, Iban or Orang Ulu".

Tawie told Malaysiakini that participants will discuss a number of resolutions to be adopted by the symposium in line with the theme of the meeting.

PKR vice-president and deputy Sabah PKR chief Dr Jeffrey Kitingan was among those present - Malaysiakini.