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Dayaks given the wrong end of sugarcane

 | July 22, 2013

There is now a pervasive sentiment among Dayaks that they are being treated as third class bumiputera by the federal government.

KUCHING: A former Malaysian ambassador to Myanmar and Mexico has accused the federal government of treating Dayaks as “third class bumiputeras”, minus the perks.

John Tenewi Nuek also raised the question of recognition of Dayaks as being among the main races in the Malaysia.

Speaking at a forum “We Must Know” here in conjunction with Sarawak’s 50th Independence Day celebrations which is today, July 22, Nuek said the community has been given the “less sweet end of a sugarcane” by the federal government.

Nuek who is of Dayak Bidayuh origin said that the issue of the special position of the indigenous races was probably the most important issue to Sabah (then known as North Borneo) and Sarawak.

“By having such a position the indigenous races of both states hoped that they could attain educational, technical, economic and social progress more rapidly.

“In view of this, the negotiating delegations from both states demanded that the special provision in the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya be extended to the indigenous races of the two Borneo territories so that they would equally share whatever advantages might be derived there from.

“The demand was acceded to by all parties and subsequently enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution.

“Regrettably, the constitutional provision concerned had been implemented indiscriminately against the indigenous races (no-Muslims) of Sabah and Sarawak.

“The situation is such that there is now a pervasive sentiment among them that they are being treated as third class bumiputera.

“So where is the promise of equal share of the economic cake? Or is this the feature of 1Malaysia?” Nuek asked.

He also addressed the issue of the ‘Dayak identity’. He said the Dayak community included the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu in Sarawak as well as all the non-Muslim indigenous races in Sabah.

“After virtually 50 years within Malaysia many Malaysians especially those in the Peninsular are either ignorant or confused as to who the Dayaks are.

“Such ignorance and confusion is not confined to the less educated. You would recall that earlier this year a very senior official of a political party from the Peninsular was reported to have said that the Dayaks were still politically ignorant because they still wear the ‘cawat’.

“Why it is that after so long people are still ignorant about us?”

“The answer is that we have not been adequately exposed. In government forms of every nature as well as forms issued by the private sector we are categorized as ‘others’ as if we are so insignificant though.

“If we had said ‘no’ to the Malaysia proposal there would be no Malaysia today.

“Likewise, in text books, the television and other media forms we are invariably excluded from ‘main racial groups in Malaysia’. The group includes only the Malays, Chinese and Indians, “ he said.

He said history was clear on the fact that it was four independent nations – Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya – which signed the 1963 agreement.

“I think as one of the major partners in the formation of Malaysia it is both unfair and unwise to disregard us.

He said Dayaks should be included as among the ‘main racial groups in Malaysia’.

July 22 in 1963 is the day Sarawak was granted the status of “independent nation” by the British government. The “independent nation” status however lasted only 56 days. On Sept 16 Sarawak together with Sabah and Singapore joined Malaya as equal partners to form the Federation of Malaysia.


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