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Published: Sunday May 10, 2009 MYT 11:45:00 AM
Updated: Sunday May 10, 2009 MYT 12:04:38 PM

Drop the term Dayak, says deputy minister

SIBU: The term “Dayak” coined by the colonial power to describe all 26 non-Muslim communities of Sarawak in the 1820s should no longer be used in present time, said Rural and Regional Development Deputy Minister Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun.

He said the term should be dropped because it conveyed negative connotations like being uncivilised, uncouth and “low class“.

“As a matter of fact, some leaders of Sarawak non-Muslim communities had some years ago suggested that the government stop using the term. I believe the suggestion has the tacit support of the leaders and the people concerned.

“So I am again reviving the call for the government to consider dropping the term,” Entulu told reporters after witnessing the installation of the new committee members for the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) Rajang branch led by chairman Maj (Rtd) Mosses Ripai on Saturday night.

Entulu said the state’s native communities, despite forming more than half of the state’s 2.5 million population, had not been acknowledged according to their respective ethnic groups.

“If we look at official forms or documents, in the column for race, they only state either Malay, Chinese, Indian or others.

“This is despite the fact that the so-called Dayaks are the majority in the state and they are among the country’s leading population groups.

“I believe it will be more tactful and exact if specific terminologies like Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit and so forth, be used,” he said.

Entulu said he had heard of bitter experiences where Dayaks working in the peninsula were turned away when they wanted to invest in the Amanah Saham Nasional or when they applied for low-cost housing because some people there thought they were not bumiputera.

Earlier in his speech Entulu advised social or cultural organisations like the SDNU, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association and others to stay apolitical.

“Leave politics to politicians. Your association will suffer if the leaders started to behave like politicians,” he said. -- Bernama

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