Sarawak DAP to file motion to make 'Dayak' a race

Sarawak DAP will move a motion in the coming state legislative assembly sitting to seek the term 'Dayak' to define all indigenous races in Sarawak, other than Malays.

To do so, there needs to be an amendment to the term 'natives' in the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance (SIO), state DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen told a press conference in Kuching today.

As it is, Sarawak natives already recognise themselves as Dayak, the Kota Sentosa assemblyperson said.

"It is with this strong sentiment that there is now the call for the term ‘Dayak’ to replace the term ‘dan lain-lain’ or the suggested ‘bumiputera’ in the race column of all government forms."

Chong (left) said the party wants Sarawak natives to be classified as two races – Dayak and Malay.

"All the previously referred to races, like the Iban, Bidayuh, etc, will be regarded as sub-ethnic groups under the unifying term for the race called ‘Dayak’," he said.

"At the moment, the shocking truth is that there is no ‘Dayak’ race in the SIO."

DAP's proposal will also see sub-ethnic groups Berawan, Lakiput and Tering, now omitted from the definition of 'natives', to be recognised as 'Dayak'.

Under the SIO, the term ‘natives’ means Bidayuh or Land Dayak, Bukitan, Berawan, Bisayah, Dusun, Iban or Sea Dayak, Kadayan, Kelabit, Kayan, Kenyah (including Sabup and Sipeng), Kajang (including Sekapan, Kejaman, Lahanan, Punan, Tanjong and Kanowit), Lakiput, Lugat, Lisum, Melanau, Murut or Lun Bawang, Penan, Sian, Tagal, Tabun, Tering, Ukit and any admixture of these races with each other.

No more divisions

The proposal will not be the final draft, Chong said, and welcomes suggestions from Dayak NGOs, academicians and community members.

Sarawak DAP vice-chairperson Leon Jimat Donald (below, right) has been tasked to receive feedback on the proposal, which the party wants to finalise before the deadline for submissions to the secretary of the state legislative assembly.

Submissions must be made two weeks before assembly sitting. The date for the next sitting has yet to be announced but the Sarawak assembly traditionally sits in May and in November.

"Under the BN regime, the Dayak have been divided into small groups and marginalised, sometimes even totally forgotten in the federal government’s policy-making process.

"It is time that the Dayak stand united so that their voices be heard and their plights be addressed properly by the ruling government.

"Hopefully, this amendment will be the first small step towards the unification of Dayak into a stronger political force, so that their interests may be better protected," Chong said.

on Malaysiakini(25/2/2015)