KENINGAU: The organising committee of the inaugural Dayak International Justice Congress held here today expressed regret that the event had been used by certain quarters to fan racial sentiments among the indigenous people.
Speaking to FMT, organising chairman Jalumin Bayogoh said the actions by some people, including those who claimed to be supporters of the event, had almost resulted in the cancellation of the three-day programme.
“I was shocked when these people shared violent videos featuring Dayaks on social media.
“There were also some people who made silly postings that we are bringing in Dayak warriors from Kalimantan and Sarawak to ‘cut’ the illegal immigrants,” he said.
Jalumin, who is also the vice-president of the Borneo Dayak Forum (BDF), said the postings had caused much distress to the Keningau district chief who convened a meeting with other village chiefs in an attempt to stop the event from taking place.
Fortunately, Jalumin said after a private meeting with the district chief and explaining the purpose of the event, the district chief relented and agreed that this important event must take place.
Other than the district chief, he said the committee was also faced with a barrage of questions from the police who were rightly concerned about the security, no thanks to the social media postings.
As a result, the permit to hold a parade, which originally was planned to include all 200 delegates, was cancelled. However, police allowed the programme to take place but only within the confines of a hotel here.
The videos, posted on YouTube and shared on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms, featured Dayak warriors showcasing their special invulnerability powers.
The videos and photos were accompanied with captions that the event today will bring in these warriors from all over Borneo with the intention of getting rid of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
On the contrary, Jalumin said, the event today had nothing to do with Dayak warriors but to study the Dayak customs in an attempt to codify them and ensure there are standard internationally-recognised Dayak customs to be shared among the Dayak people in Borneo.
Even the delegates, he said, comprised native chiefs, custom chiefs, spiritual advisers and even government officers from Kalimantan in Indonesia.
“I understand why people are jumpy these days. Recently, we had a spate of violent crimes which saw locals getting beaten up by illegal immigrants and some even died.
“It also showed that Sabah is no longer peaceful. We are slowly losing that racial harmony.
“However, I also notice that among the Dayak people, there are two kinds of people. One group is level-headed and even timid while the other group has extremists who think we are so strong and can simply ‘cut’ people,” he said.
Jalumin said he could not say whether the second group was genuinely in favour of the Dayak movement or only acted as provocateurs.
Nevertheless, he said such spirit is needed but should be transformed into something healthier by serving the indigenous people instead of only becoming keyboard warriors.
“We are not violent people. And those who think so, should come and see what we are doing.
“I have actually invited them to take part in many events in the past. But only some did. The rest preferred to only criticise and provoke others on social media,” he said.
The three-day congress was attended by more than 200 people, including 83 delegates from Indonesia, 50 from Sarawak and 63 from Sabah.
Brunei Dayak initially wanted to send two representatives but both could not make it at the last minute.
BDF is a pan-Borneo socio-cultural body aimed at uniting all Dayak tribes, including the Kadazandusun and Murut people in Sabah, under one umbrella.
Officially launched in 2010, the BDF already succeeded in obtaining a permanent representative for the Dayak people in the United Nations (UN) this year.