Monday, February 23, 2009

Dayak’s Economic Dependence in Exchange for Native Customary Land?

46 years into independence we still have too many Dayaks indigenous peoples of Sarawak to remain economically dependent on the Barisan government. These economically dependent dayaks were normally poor dayaks of the rural areas. With the subsidies they got, the poor dayaks had no choice but to back the Barisan Nasional. This perpetuated the Barisan Nasional to stay in power in exchange for the meager subsidies. The meager subsides contributed to slow down the development in the dayak areas. The slow development pace in dayak areas therefore gave much advantage to the Barisan government to stay in power. This was a powerful political weapon used by the Barisan National government. The Barisan Nasional never gave free lunch!

The dayaks had no choice, but, just had to wait for government help to uplift their standard of living. Many had to wait for government help to survive. Why not speed development in these dayak areas so that these dayaks will not forever be dependant on government subsidies? We need to compare with West Malaysia. Why the kampungs in West Malaysia developed very fast? Could our oil money was only being siphoned there to help West Malaysians and should our dayak people be neglected?

By helping the Barisan Nasional in power, the poor dayaks were in actual fact helping the BN political leaders to enrich themselves by giving them time to alienate lands dayak lands for large scale plantations to cronies and to themselves. When their lands were alienated or taken away, dispute arises but because native lands have no title, it was always a futile exercise for the dayaks to fight for their land. Nasty incidences happened and in one incident four people were killed some years ago in Ulu Niah where it was said 19 people were charged for the killing. Of course, there were many other instances which included arrests and other harassments against dayaks who defended their lands.

The dayaks in actual fact were at the mercy of their own leaders. Most of these leaders were in the government and too many were afraid to champion their own people for fear of losing their positions which goes with them some perks for extra good living. Instead of helping their own people, these few dayak leaders who have good life and who enjoy some power in corridors of powers also benefited in the whole scheme. Why should they take care to ensure the lands of their own people not to fall into hands of the greedy politicians in the Barisan Nasional government? Although in power they took very little proactive action to get the native lands to be survey and land titles issued. Without land titles to these lands therefore were stateland. So, its time for them to kick their own leaders out!

Dayak leaders like Tan Sri Jabu and James Masing should come out and to clear the air whether or not they have lands alienated to them or to their family because their own people are entitled to know. Should they be kicked out this time?

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