Monday, March 30, 2009

Sarawak politics - One by election BN can't afford to loose

Hi there!

I am not the political blogger but things of late is good to ponder upon, which persuaded me to write.

Yesterday was the nomination day for three by-elections, one each in Kedah, Perak and Sarawak. UMNO seemed to be so confidence that their recent "wings of change" in the party election would garner well with voters. The UMNO mass media stated out loud that the opposition is on the brink of break-up and so forth. We will wait and see, as Nizar responded to that, on 7th April 2009. Nizar is the ousted but celebrated Chief Minister of Perak.

At the Sarawak scene, the forever present CM Taib Mahmud led the ruling coalition to accompany BN candidate for Batang Ai, Mr. Mussen (as we know him). There are a few things that I would like to comment on this:

1. When there is a seat vacancy for BN in Dayak constituent, they will resort to pick up a serving government officer to stand in the election. This automatically deprived the Dayak of a representation in the agency he/she is leaving in order to enter the political fray. Fair to say, this move may be good for the individual chosen, whether he win or loose (like Alex Vincent - Balleh), but still a Dayak is lost from the ladder of the Public Service where he should serve till retirement for the good of his agency and the public they serve.

2. This election is different. It is the first time that Sarawak is openly accepting in the challenges posed by an organised opposition. Not like in the past where there is only this one or two independent candidate that withdrew at the very last minute for unknown reason. No wonder, the BN have to come in full force to Batang Ai and "pour out" more money in the area, hopefully not just empty promises, in the form of projects and grants. I heard the rebate for outboard motor owners in the area will only be paid after the by-election. May be Jawah Gerang will want to use this information.

3. If CM is correctly quoted, today's Sarawak's newspaper reported that there is a "Sarawak way " of campaigning and how campaign goes on now is very different from the past. I think the BN machinery has been using the same tactic for too long and the leaders are been there too long to realize that there are new ways to campaign. But what is the Sarawak way? No one can guess more better, as a newspaper columnist, Kaypo rightly put it "even if you put up a monkey as a BN candidate using the 'dacing' symbol, BN will win." I think people are being bombarded by "money politics" from all angles, be it promises of infrastructures, basic facilities, grants etc., those are all money promises. The notion that only BN goverment can bring development should be a gone case by now, as any party forming a government could utter promises sky high till the billions of money in their control is gone.

4. A by-election is for the ruling government to win. But if the opposition can take Batang Ai with all the issues against the current state government being played around the campaign, we can suggest that there is a truth in the issues and the BN couldn't take the opposition lightly anymore. As a show of strength, all along, the BN might is incomparable in rural constituents of Sarawak, but let us see if the Dayakism, as potrayed by some BN campaigners against the opposition, have some say at the end of the week. If BN loose this one, many more will be go down the wire but if the opposition lost, the BN will champing that the land issues is gone.

We wait and see what will happen after 7th April 2009.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Orang Ulu - Who really cares?

Dear Friends,

Recent Sarawak local news coverage on the so-called "Orang Ulu" (means UP-RIVER PEOPLES)community suggests that a group of "orang ulu" based NGOs called FORUM (Federation of Orang Ulu Assosiations Malaysia?) want a change of the term "orang ulu" to "LUN DAYA".

The news reports impressed upon readers that the big names and the community at large have "more or less" accepted the idea of a change of name, they called re-branding. It is believed the notion was promoted by the FORUM because the "orang ulu" potrays a backward community and the term may be a hindrance for their progress. The FORUM suggested that a change of name (or re-branding?) to reflect the real characters of the community is therefore, needed to have a better image.

As a member of Persatuan Masyarakat Saban, an assosiate of the FORUM, of which my brother is the current president, it may not be a really good idea to put down some comment on the issue, but there are some disturbing thoughts that i would like to put on record here:

(1) While visiting a former State Agriculture Director at his 2009 Chinese New Year celebration, he asked me of my 'race' and I obliged to say that I'm Saban, an Orang Ulu tribe. He responded by saying that 'this is my favorite peoples'. He said he liked it during those days, while still in goverment service, visiting the orang ulu places and enjoying the beautiful and diverse cultures they have. And he asked me, why do we want to change our name? He said ornag ulu is nice and established name.

(2) I do not agree with the involvement of politician in NGOs activities. If or so-called hardworking orang ulu YBs are sincere enough in highlighting orang ulu problems, lack of developments and opportunity to progress, use the right platform. Or otherwise, resign as YB and join the NGOs if that is your only ability. Working on NGOs platform like communal associations is merely degrading their YB title, whom should shout out loud for the plight of our poor constituencies in the relevant Dewan. And let the heads of the NGOs work on this kind of issues.

(3) What is the difference by a change from "orang ulu" to "lun daya"? For me, they are the same and it does not potrays a better thing. "Lun" can be associated with "Ulun" that can be traced to "slavery", in a worst case scenario. "Daya" is merely "ulu" in the Kenyah lingo and if you term in in Malay it can be weaken with "apakan daya". Therefore, a change in that direction does not serve any purpose for me.

(4) What is the problem with us being orang ulu? Come on! We originated from the "ulu". TITIK. But being from "ulu" does not stops us from being educated (eg. check Candida Jau on Facebook), owning businesses like Philip Ngo and Jun Wan or Jok Ding, leading goverment agencies like Robert Lian, becoming CEOs like DS Idris Jala, managers of multi-nationals like Mohd Medan, travel the world with a 'sape' like Cikgu Matthew, officials of golf clubs like Henry Lian and Dr Philip and the list goes on for many more accomplishments that we already have while being called "orang ulu". I don't see any problem or hindarance to progress in there. For that matter, I believe many more orang ulu youngsters are coming up to meet the challenges to being exceptional and sucessful, based of the standards set by the present generations without a "re-branding".

(5) Personally, "orang ulu" is just an easy description of my origin of which my tribe, Saban is part of, due the locality of our village, Long Banga in the upper-Baram, the great river. There maybe some "orang ulu" associated communities that are located down-river like the Bisayas and Berawans, but I believe being called one "orang ulu" does not down grade them, because in the olden days, the Chinese taukeys in the old towns of Kapit, Marudi, Limbang and Lawas will just called anybody, that arrived by boat for their yearly or quartely or few shopping trips, as "ORANG ULU".

I therefore, urge the current FORUM to look for other issues to work on and forget about this re-branding of the great Orang Ulu. May be our honorable YBs should do more to highlight problems and seek more development into our areas in the Dewan. Time to seek popularity by mingling around NGOs is over.

I may be wrong to say the above matters, and the way it is presented. Some orang ulu may be offended and dislike it that way. However, and I don't offer any apology. I may be arrogant here, but I do care about the basic concerns of our rural Orang Ulu that are real development, connection (road and telco) and recognition of land ownership. Not merely rethoric plus thousand of broken promises, we are tired of them.