Sarawak wants ‘Dayak’ to be inserted in the race column on official forms


In festive mood: Gawai Dayak dances getting ready to give a performance. – Bernamapic

KUCHING: Sarawak is awaiting the Federal Government’s approval to insert “Dayak” into the race column on official forms.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem in his Gawai message urged Putrajaya to quickly approve the proposal, which he mooted in January.

He said the Dayak race was the largest ethic group in Sarawak with its own unique culture and customs.

“As such, the race cannot be categorised as lain-lain (others). I fully support the introduction of the word Dayak on official forms alongside Malay, Indian and Chinese,” Adenan said yesterday.

“It is my hope this be done as quickly as possible once the Federal Cabinet agrees to it.”

The term Dayak – spelt Dyak on some of earliest maps and documents – includes Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. Including subgroups, the term encompasses 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic communities in Borneo.

Also in his Gawai message, the CM reiterated his call for native customary rights land disputes to be settled out of court.

“I take the position if any party would be ready to find solutions outside the courts, the state Government is ready to help. I am ready to give state land to indigenous communities – via section 6 and 7 of the Land Code – in the appropriate sizes as one way of solving issues.”

Adenan said disputes between the state, private sector and native land rights claimants had wasted too much “time, energy and resources”.

“I have already taken the decision to no longer give licenses to large scale plantations on state land, unless on recognised native customary rights land.”

Meanwhile, Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud said in his Gawai speech progress depended on mutual cooperation between the races, as well as urban-rural development.

“We have reached a point where places that were once hard to reach are now starting to see changes like Ulu Baram and Ulu Belaga. At the same time, many dwellers of Ulu Baram are now earning a living in Miri, and those from Belaga at Bintulu and Sibu,” Taib said.

It is the Governor’s hope to see all Sarawakians prosper.

“There will be increasingly more jobs in the private sector. Our economy no longer depends on the Government.”

PKR Sarawak chairman Baru Bian spoke about harmony in his festive greeting.

“We practise acceptance and mutual respect – and to not curtail the freedoms of others in the guise of ‘sensitivities’. This is what sets us apart. The unique thing about Sarawak is that a Muslim can sell nasi lemak next to a Chinese stall selling pork. We are a real example of ‘muhibah’,” Baru said.

“But in a way, it is sad that this is held up to be a uniqueness, when it should really just be acceptable to more.”

He also praised Sarawakians for holding on to their identities.

“Sarawakians make great effort to travel home from all over Malaysia and overseas to celebrate this festival with loved ones. It is a time for reunion and strengthening ties,” the Ba Ke’lalan assemblyman said.

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Government , East Malaysia , race column


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