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‘BN cronies causing disharmony in longhouses’

 | May 9, 2012

An age old Dayak adat of choosing a Tuai Rumah by common consensus thus ensuring harmony within the longhouse is now severely compromised by BN's corrupt cronies.

KUCHING: The government’s appointment of longhouse chiefs (Tuai Rumah) who are cronies of the elected representatives is driving a wedge among native communities who, in the past, have chosen their own leaders.

The practice goes against the established adat (customs) of the Dayak community and has also wrecked the inherent harmony in longhouses, said Nicholas Bawin, a Sarawak PKR division leader.

Bawin, who heads the party’s Lubuk Antu division, said that he had received several complaints from longhouse residents regarding the issue.

“The elected representatives failed to get the consensus of the longhouse folk in recommending someone to be their Tuai Rumah.

“This practice is against the norm or adat that has been practised in the past by the longhouse people,” said Bawin, who was a former deputy president of the Dayak Council of Traditions and Customs.

Bawin cited some instances in Lubok Antu where the local MP William Nyallau Badak had replaced some Tuai Rumah who had either died or retired with those who were ‘close’ to him.

“His (Nyallau) recommendation is not only against the wishes of the longhouse people, but also against the Iban adat that has long been in practice.

“We are worried about this development and in the manner the Tuai Rumah has been appointed because it can bring disunity and disharmony to the people of that longhouse.

“In the past if there is more than one candidate, the people will decide who will be their chief through a process of election. This is very much like our general election,” he said.

Abusing power

The state BN government has been using these Tuai Rumah as its chief ‘campaigners’ in their respective longhouses.

Past incidents showed that these ‘chosen’ longhouse chiefs warned their followers that ‘action’ would be taken against them if they voted for the opposition.

As a ‘punishment’ for supporting the opposition, longhouse chiefs and followers would be deprived of development projects and other election ‘goodies’.

Bawin said that the Tuai Rumah has often abused his power to stop opposition campaigners from entering the longhouse during electioneering.

There were scores of Tuai Rumah whose appointments were terminated after they were found allowing their longhouses to be used by the opposition in the last election.

A couple of them have sued the government for their dismissal.

Bawin, who is likely to be the PKR candidate for Lubok Antu, believed that the Barisan Nasional would make use of the Tuai Rumah to threaten their followers into supporting the BN candidate.

He said that PKR is prepared for all this undemocratic practice and is using Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) to counter allegations made by BN against the opposition.

RFS which is broadcasting daily from 6pm to 8pm is one of the most popular radio stations in the rural areas, said Bawin, pointing out that the response to its broadcasts is very encouraging.

Listeners even from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah phoned to RFS not only pouring out their problems, but also accusing the BN government of failing to fulfill its promises.

“That is the reason why BN is against the people listening to the station. They don’t want the people to find the truth,” he said.


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