The dayaks in Sarawak are a split race, being split politically right, left and centre. If dayaks could group themselves together, no where other races could be near them economically and politically. Dayaks are in fact like Chinese and Indians and they all, unlike the malays, are of many races. Politically, the Chinese and Indians as a race in Malaysia, like the dayaks are also split, but, the split among the malays are not that serious. This was because the malays was helped by being a single race. Unlike other races in Malaysia, the malays all shared the same religion.
How and who split the dayaks? During the Brookes and British time, the indigenous people of Sarawak, were collectively known as dayaks. But, these Mat Salleh people later on preferred to call ibans as sea dayaks, and they called bidayuhs as land dayaks. Was not this a way to split the dayaks politically? How about other indigenous people, like kelabits, kenyahs, bukitans, in the Baram and Miri areas? Are they not also dayaks? Why split them as orang ulus? Who did this?
To split the dayaks further and placing them as if the dayaks are without nationality or race in the many official forms as “others” or “lain-lain” has further confused the dayak people of their identity. People like Tan Sri Jabu and James Masing being dayak leaders themselves should take the courage and positive effort to correct this misconception. I had spoken at length in the Dewan about this matter because I fear dayaks will lose their identity. There was no reply from the ministers.
The term sea and land dayaks are seldom heard or used of nowadays. In the Article 161A (7) of the Federal Constitution while other indigenous people are mentioned, it gave no mention of iban and bidayuh at all. Why the Federal Constitution did not define the term “dayak” but, “natives” for the purpose of indigenous people of Sarawak? Now, some bright spark out there wanted to split the dayak further by suggesting that the term dayak no more be used. Would not this politically was split the dayaks in Sarawak further?
If Najib is serious of 1 Malaysia Concept as a front for racial unity, he should amend the Federal Constitution so that Malaysians do no be called “bumiputera”, non-“bumiputera” and “others”. As it stands now, the law and the government treat races differently. This was evident when a bidayuh was not given a financial loan to start his business because he could not qualify himself as a bumiputera which prompted Lim Kit Siang to raise the matter in Parliament. Some dayaks in West Malaysia were said not been recognized as bumiputeras when buying houses, thus, depriving them of houses allocated to bumiputeras.
Datuk Joseph Entulu has much to explain to the community for his suggestions on the use of the term dayak and he was said to have said that the term dayak bore connotations that were negative, derogatory, uncouth and low class. If Datuk Joseph Entulu had said this, I would be sorry to him because there is nothing derogatory to call all indigenous people of Sarawak dayaks. If a person says that the term dayak is derogatory, uncouth and low class, then, it was his personal perception unsupported by any findings or is contrary to public perception. To clear the air, Chinese people never called dayak, derogatory or low class and since coming here from China, the Chinese people always showed much respect to the dayaks. That was the reason why when SNAP was formed as an umbrella for the dayaks, many Chinese businessmen supported the Party.
So don’t split the dayaks further. They are human beings like any other people in this earth. No body had a choice which race they wanted to be when they came to this earth. That is, nobody may wish to be born as dayak, a Chinese or an Indian, etc if he has the right to chose which race he should be before he comes to this world. We are all God’s creation and God had created us that way, so we must accept this God’s will.
The dayak should by now know why Malaysian Dayak Congress (“MDC”) could not until now be registered as a political party. With the name “dayak” in the Party’s name, it could be feared that MDC could be the umbrella to where the dayaks, whether, ibans, bidayuhs or orang ulus could find political shelter and political strength together. So, promoters and supporters of MDC, your wait may not see any light at all!
The dayak community has to think hard and find a solution to come together so that they could be stronger politically to fight for their rights which had long been neglected by the government.