KUCHING: Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Masing says while others are free to join in the Gawai Dayak celebration, the right to organise the state-level celebration belongs only to the community.
“It is ours, therefore it is ours to keep. It is ours to organise,” he said in a statement here today.
He said the state Gawai Dayak celebration comes under the three Dayak NGOs, namely the Sarawak Dayak National Union, Dayak Bidayuh National Association and Orang Ulu National Association.
“It was these NGOs, since Gawai Dayak was recognised in the 60s by the Sarawak government as a Dayak cultural festivity, which were given the honour to organise the state Gawai every year,” he added.
He said other groups in Malaysia are welcome to join them in their celebration but warned against using the event for political activities or as a gimmick to further split the Dayak community.
“Dayaks must not allow themselves to be politically used by other races,” he said, adding that there is no common factor which can identify the three main Dayak groups – the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu – as a single unit.
While religion plays that role in the Malay community, he said, it does not unite the Dayaks.
“We don’t even have a common social objective through which we can group ourselves as one social entity. Politics could be the venue to unite the Dayaks but instead it divides us further,” he said.
The Gawai Dayak celebration, however, is a common link between the Dayak communities, he said.
“Therefore, let us make it the knot that binds, and the glue which seals all Dayak communities as one.
“Let us use it as a cultural festivity to be enjoyed by all Malaysians,” he said.