Orang Ulus want bigger role

Gala (with traditional hat) receiving a souvenir from Antonio at the opening of the Sarawak Orang Ulu Symposium in Miri. ­­— STEPHEN THEN/The Star

Gala (with traditional hat) receiving a souvenir from Antonio at the opening of the Sarawak Orang Ulu Symposium in Miri. ­­— STEPHEN THEN/The Star

MIRI: The Federation of Orang Ulus in Sarawak (Forum) want to chart a five-year blueprint to develop the Orang Ulus into key players in the state economic and industrial arenas.

The Orang Ulus want to secure a big share in the civil service, in the trading sectors, in industries, in professional fields, education and politics, said Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala.

“For too long the Orang Ulus having been playing the role of back-ups in these sectors in Sarawak and it is high time to play a leading role,” he said.

Speaking at the opening of

the Federation of Orang Ulu state-level symposium at the Miri Civic Centre yesterday, he said the federation must plan for the future.

“We Orang Ulus must chart

our future comprehensively because the trend of socio-

economic changes are happening too rapidly in state and country that we are getting left behind.

For too long we have become our own barriers to progress.

For many years we feared progress because progress involved changes.

“We were afraid of changes in the way we live.

We were just content with simple living and we protested against development projects by the government.

We also fought against the logging and plantation projects.

“We were afraid of changes and we were stuck in our comfort zone.

Now we are behind other races in Sarawak and Malaysia.

“The Federation of Orang Ulu need to change this by coming

up with resolutions during this symposium that are future-looking.

We will then work with the state government to realise our plans,” he said.

Gala, who is also state assemblyman for Mulu, said the three-day symposium will see 500 Orang Ulu grassroot leaders coming for talks and brain-storming.

During the symposium, experts in social and economic arenas will also give their input.

The Orang Ulus - a cluster group of minority ethnic groups made up of the Kayans, Kenyahs, Kelabits, Lun Bawangs, Kiputs, Sabans, Lahanans and others – also want to be represented in the management level of government agencies.

Gala said this is to enable them to be part of the top-level administration so that the Orang Ulus will have a direct say in the process of decision-making and policy-making.

Federation president Antonio Kahti Galis, who chaired the symposium, said all the proposals highlighted in the conference resolutions will be forwarded to the state government.

“We will liase closely with the state government and the Chief Minister to address issues of concerns affecting the Orang Ulus.

We will be the platform to link the Orang Ulus in urban and rural Sarawak with the state government,” he said.

Kahti said the Chief Minister will be briefed on the matters raised by the delegates with regards to their views.

“Other current issues affecting the Orang Ulus in terms of land and rural development are also in the talks,” he stressed.

Forum was set up 10 years ago to try to get all the Orang Ulus to be under its jurisdiction.Its main purpose was to function as the umbrella body for all the Orang Ulus in state and country.