DEMOCRATIC Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Wong Ho Leng has been chided for his illogical statement regarding the Dayak community.
He claimed that 100,000 Dayaks are working in Malaya. Now of course he was shown the error of his ways by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud who pointed out that if 100,000 Dayaks were working in Malaya, then including their families, there would be about 250,000 Dayaks in Malaya.
Now judging from the fact that the Dayak population of Sarawak stands at about 700,000, it would mean that around 40 per cent of them would be missing from the State.
Of course Wong could not substantiate his claims. But the DAP chief then had the gall to ask what the State government is doing to attract the Dayak community working in Malaya back to Sarawak.
This is when it gets ridiculous. Has the Sibu MP not heard of the concept of bejalai for the Iban? I refer to the Iban community first because obviously they make up the greatest segment of the Dayak community and therefore if the 100,000 figure were true, the Iban would make up the majority of that figure as well. Does Wong have no idea that the ancient tradition of bejalai is one of those things that make the Iban who they are?
And so if members of the Bidayuh community or Orang Ulu community decide to live elsewhere it is really up to them as well isn’t it? It could be for work, an adventure, for love even. For that matter, the concept applies to the Melanau and Malay communities as well. It applies to us all as citizens of earth!
In this era of globalisation, of course bejalai would involve more than just the borders of this great State of ours.
The next thing I would like to point out is, how many Sarawakian Chinese are working overseas? How many have migrated to cities in Australia like Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney? To New Zealand in cities like Auckland and Christchurch? To the United Kingdom, United States and all over Europe? Not to mention the number of Sarawakian Chinese working in Malaya?
What does DAP propose to do to attract them back to the State? Why the so-called interest in the Dayak community? What about his own Chinese community? So is it okay for Sarawakian Chinese to look elsewhere for jobs and the experience of life outside the State but not for the Dayak?
Oh and by the way, in his ‘clarification’ to the media after the DUN sitting, Wong said he had actually said there are 100,000 Dayaks and Sarawakians working in Malaya. Urm Dayaks and Sarawakians? So Dayaks aren’t Sarawakians? So who are Sarawakians? Why single out the Dayaks?
The DAP should remember not to be so condescending to the Dayak community. The party’s new political tactic to ‘champion’ the cause of the Dayak community is actually rather insulting. I suppose it is rather difficult to know the needs of the Dayak community when all this while the party has only been interested in the Chinese community.
Now that they have realised their ambitions to run the State require them to win Dayak seats, the party has decided to change its tune.
The thing is, the Dayak community is not as naive as some people in DAP seem to think they are. Please give the Dayak community more credit.
How the Borneo Post reported it:
Taib takes Ho Leng to task over claim
KUCHING: A claim by Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Assek) that 100,000 Dayaks had migrated to the peninsula to work irked Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, prompting him to ask the opposition leader to substantiate his figure.
Responding to Wong’s debate in the 17th DUN sitting, Taib (BN-Balingian) who was delivering his winding up speech challenged Wong to get his facts correct and admit his mistake.
“The Dayak population today consists of 700,000 people. If really 100,000 or one out of seven Dayak had migrated, then add it with their family members, (say family of five), then some 250,000 people would have migrated out of the state.”
Taib pointed out it would be impossible for the state not to feel the strain of such a massive migration of manpower.
Asking Wong to apologise, he pointed out that the state DAP chairman had miscalculated his figures.
Taib then explained that it was impossible to stop Sarawakians from working abroad considering the open economy of the state.
He added that Sarawakians working abroad in search of a better life (not only for jobs) was a privilege of people living in an open economy as some who were trained overseas opted to work abroad to experience a new way of life.
However, Taib said he knew that many Sarawakians working abroad long to be home but could not because they wanted to achieve financial independence through higher paying jobs there.
Taib then sat down for Wong to counter his response.
Wong re-phrased his statement by pointing out that even if the chief minister did not agree to the figures of his claim, what he wanted to know was what measures the state had taken to attract Dayaks working in Peninsular Malaysia to come back to the state.
Responding to Wong’s clarification, Taib reiterated that the claim of 100,000 locals working in the peninsula was wrong.
Taib then continued his winding up speech, explaining that it was imperative for the government to transform the state’s economy.
“The last 20 years had seen significant economic structure change as evident from the Data of Employment by industries. Check that data and use it as a basis for any criticism in the future. Don’t come up and lecture with figures that are not justifiable,” Taib said.
Wong when met after the sitting, told the press that he did not say 100,000 Dayaks but 100,000 Dayaks and Sarawakians working in Peninsular Malaysia.
He was puzzled why the chief minister was annoyed by his query as he believed it did not touch on any sensitive issue.
The Bernama report:
Taib Takes Opposition State Assemblyman To Task For Wrong Facts On Iban Workers
KUCHING, Nov 23 (Bernama) — Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud Wednesday took to task an opposition member of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly for providing ridiculous figures of Iban workers migrating to the peninsula and accusing the government of importing lowly-paid foreigners.
He said Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Assek) needed to prove in the next sitting his claims during his debate that there were some 100,000 Ibans or one-seventh of the total 700,000 population in the state who were working elsewhere as this would have drained the labour supply.
Taib, who is also Finance Minister said in his winding-up speech on the second reading of the Supply (2012) Bill, 2011 that it was pure imagination on the part of Wong for making such an exaggerated statement after the latter sought to seek a clarification on whether any strategies were being implemented by the government to entice the large number of semi-skilled Dayaks working in Johor and Klang Valley to come back.
While Sarawak had created more jobs, especially to fill the industrial requirement in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score), than exporting local talents out, Taib said, the mobility of Sarawakians around the world was a good sign that they were capable of quick adaptation in the modern world.
“Our goal is to create as many good jobs as possible for our people so that Sarawakians do not have to leave the state just to earn a living, if they do not want to,” he said, adding that however the phenomenon was a natural privilege of an open economy.
Many Sarawakians, who were trained overseas, had also seen another way of living which they might initially find refreshing and wish to try while some longed to be back home but could not because their focus was on establishing financial independence, he said.
Taib said a manpower study conducted by the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) recently concluded that 58,200 new jobs would be generated under the Score initiative by 2015 or 11,600 new jobs annually, including 620 at professional level, 1,700 (semi-professional), 700 (support group) and 8,600 (general workers).
On the Sarawak economic perspective, he said the state’s main objective was to ensure that its economy continued to grow at a decent pace to generate sufficient opportunities for business and the general public.
He said the steady growth would initially come from a steady stream of government spending and projects before the government could depend increasingly on private investments from outside and within the country.
In raising the income level of the local community across the board, he said, the state needed to focus on a paradigm shift in its economic development strategy, which could only be achieved by a significant injection of local and foreign investments.
He said Score was tailored-made for the Sarawak situation – a home grown initiative – that took advantage of reasonably priced energy from hydro and other resources to attract world class industries and build industrial clusters, which it was now able to do for the first time.
With energy, industrial and manpower development as the three main thrusts, he said, Sarawakians should take advantage of opportunities now being made available through Score to make things happen, especially a better spot for themselves and their families under the vast Sarawak sun.
“With the world population having reached seven billion, there is a battle for resources and the people of Sarawak should not be sitting and waiting for things to happen,” he said, adding that each one of those in the government must also do their little part to facilitate that need to change and advance with the time.
Sarawak is now undergoing a significant transition, from being an essentially a rural-based economy with some manufacturing activities to the three major levels of development, he said.