Hornbill Unleashed

February 22, 2012

Malaysian indigenous leaders launch campaign against plans for a 12 dam mega-complex





Malaysian indigenous leaders launch campaign against plans for a 12 dam mega-complex

Representatives from affected communities in Sarawak, Malaysia gathered to kick off their campaign against 12 planned dams in Sarawak with a demand for consultation and a public referendum.

(MIRI, SARAWAK/MALAYSIA) For the first time in Sarawak’s history, 150 indigenous representatives from areas already affected or to be affected by dam projects came together to share their experiences at a conference organized by the newly founded ‘SAVE Rivers Network’. The conclusion to be drawn from the conference, which took place from 16th to 18th February 2012, is clear-cut: Sarawak’s previous construction of dams has violated international human rights and environmental standards such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as basic rights guaranteed under the Malaysian constitution such as the right to property. Mistakes made during the construction of the recently completed Bakun dam are being repeated in new dam projects such as at Murum and Baram where affected communities complain about a lack of information and lack of participation.

The Sarawak state government, along with Chinese investors, plans to construct 12 more dams to provide 28,000 MW of electricity to create an industrial complex in Sarawak’s remote jungles.

The representatives at the conference issued a joint statement demanding an immediate stop to all dam projects, respect for the right to consultation and a public discussion around these large-scale projects, which should be nurtured by a referendum to be held on the issue. Peter Kallang, chairperson of the SAVE Rivers Network, said that this conference is just the beginning of a long struggle in order to get their demands through and announces next steps to be taken: “There is a need for further awareness raising in society as such, but especially in the affected regions. Therefore, we are planning a road show in Baram where we will visit all affected communities. The goal is to create committees in all affected areas which in turn will become the organizational base for collective action against these mega-dams.”

The indigenous representatives came from Batang Ai, Bakun, Bengoh, Murum, Baram, Balleh, Limbang, Lawas, Pelagus and Tutoh plus individuals from Miri, Bintulu and Kuching.

An international NGO coalition consisting of the Bruno Manser Fund (CH), International Rivers (US), Borneo Project (US) and the Rainforest Foundation Norway has expressed their support for the indigenous leaders’ call to respect human rights and comply with international standards. Kirk Herbertson of International Rivers, who observed the conference, states: “What I have heard from the participants at the conference is worrying. Denial of the people’s rights to information and consultation, as well as the lack of a proper evaluation of alternatives to dams in a public discussion contravenes international standards such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as Malaysian law.”

Mr. Kallang further explained, “Affected people from areas where dams are currently under construction or being planned have demonstrated that the government is repeating its mistakes.”

Statements made during the two and a half day conference indeed indicate the government’s lack of capacity to realize its dam projects in a responsible manner. People representing the areas where dams have already been built, namely Batang Ai, Bakun and Bengoh, describe how the Sarawak government and project companies denied their rights to information and consultation, and how involuntary resettlement left them more impoverished than before. One participant from Bakun described, “The government made so many promises to us concerning free houses, free electricity, and free water. All these are just empty promises. We are still waiting for their implementation.”

A representative from Upper Baram revealed, “We have never been informed or consulted by the government of its plan to build Baram dam.”

From the perspective of the organizer, the SAVE Rivers Network, the conference was a big success as it presented a unique chance for exchange of views between communities who have no meaningful voice in their government, and as it allowed for building up the necessary synergies for a successful struggle against the maledict dams.

– End –

Support the local demand to immediately top the envisioned dam projects and the non-compliance with international standards by signing the protest letter: http://www.stop-corruption-dams.org

Media contacts for further information:

Peter Kallang, Save Sarawak Rivers Network, Miri/Sarawak, +60-13-833-1104, peterkallang@yahoo.com

Annina Aeberli, Bruno Manser Fund, Basel/Switzerland, +41-61-261-94-74, info@bmf.ch

Kirk Herbertson, International Rivers, Bangkok/Thailand, +66-86-786-3182, kherbertson@internationalrivers.org

Brihannala Morgan, The Borneo Project, Oakland/US, +1-415-341-7051, brihannala@borneoproject.org

Lars Løvold, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Oslo, Norway, +47-481-88-148, lars@rainforest.no


  1. Now that the MP for Baram, Jacob Sagan, who has been a staunched supporter of Taib’s Murum Dam, has been exposed for having received a timber concession under his and his wife’s name in Baram area to extract belian wood, all the Ibans and Orang Ulu, together with the activists opposing the Dams project must step up their strong protest and pressure against the BN government.

    Make sure all the voters in Baram are aware they had been sold by the BN MP.

    Comment by Bidayuh Headmaster — February 26, 2012 @ 4:31 PM | Reply

  2. “where are the Iban warriors ..in politics!!!” They have all been subdued and eaten alive by the King Termite lah…Jabu, Masing, Manyin, Mawan, are having their tails in between their legs when the King Termite Rrroooaaarrss!!! as he is energized and empowered by Seven Warrior BOMOHs..Go and observe the ADUN meeting you will see.

    Comment by Mandela — February 23, 2012 @ 4:57 PM | Reply


    “Saudis will rise against US-backed brutal Al Saudi monarchy”
    18 February 2012

    Stephen Lendman is a Chicago-based writer & radio host, and author of How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War and co-author of The Iraq Quagmire: The Price of Imperial Arrogance.

    A few days ago Press TV conducted an interview with him. The following are the video and excerpt of the interview transcription:

    Press TV:

    We seem to be witnessing an escalation of violence in this crackdown on the Saudi protesters. In your perspective, why aren’t we hearing any type of condemnation, even mildly, from the United States in dealing with Riyadh?


    There’s no surprise about that.

    As far as America commenting on Saudi violence, my goodness, America supports Saudi violence. America for many years has supplied Saudi Arabia with many billions of dollars of weapons and munitions. Saudi Arabia is a valued regional ally supporting US imperialism.

    Although I must say, the Saudis are saying a little more, at least marginally saying no today, where in the past they virtually gave America a blank slate.

    Press TV:

    With this situation in Saudi, do you think that we’re going to end up seeing an escalation there in violence, in general, as we are not getting that reaction, you just said, from the United States or from anywhere else condemning what the regime is doing?

    Of course, we see the same thing happening in Saudi Arabia being involved in Bahrain, no condemnation, now inside its own country as the world continues to be silent. How likely are we to see an escalation of the violence?


    I think it will escalate! The Saudi repression has been extreme for many, many years. The Saudi people know what’s going on in the region. And I’m sure they know what their own forces are doing in neighboring Bahrain. I mean, brutal repression has gone on for a year – the Saudi troops in the streets, just brutal stuff.

    And this is going on now with Saudi Arabia; again, total suppression of this in America including Bahrain. You just hear nothing about this.

    I think the Saudis will end up being as courageous as the Egyptians, the Bahrainis, the Yemenis, and they should understand this.

    Press TV:

    OK, we’ll keep our eyes on what’s going on, of course, in Saudi Arabia.

    Comment by anon — February 22, 2012 @ 9:23 PM | Reply



    Saudi Arabia police cracked down peaceful protesters, injured scores of people and killed 2

    We call for Saudi Prince Nayef to step down and we hope to see that UN General Assembly can come up with a resolution condemning human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

    Uploaded by WavesNews on Feb 14, 2012

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    أنضم معنا وشارك الصفحة مع أصدقائك!

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    Shia hold Anti-Discrimination Demo in East Saudi Arabia

    (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Saudis have held a demonstration against the ruling House of Saud in the east of the kingdom.

    Protesters in the island of Tarot took to the streets on Wednesday night and chanted “[Crown Prince] Nayef, you are responsible for the killing of protesters,” denouncing the regime’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy rallies.

    The demonstrators also demanded the release of thousands of political prisoners, whom the ultraconservative kingdom is holding without charge or trial.

    The Saudi regime has recently stepped up its crackdown on the protesters, killing several and wounding many more of them.

    On Tuesday, Saudi security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, injuring many people.

    Some of the wounded are reportedly in critical condition. Nine protesters were also arrested during the attack.

    On January 12, regime forces killed 22-year-old protester, Essam Mohamed Abu Abdellah, and wounded three others in Awamiyah.

    Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of anti-government protests over the past months, with demonstrators demanding respect for human rights, implementation of reforms, realization of freedom of expression, and release of political prisoners.

    Anti-government protesters in the kingdom also want an end to economic and religious discrimination and the termination of the government’s March 2011-present involvement in brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests in neighboring Bahrain.

    Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia, has warned the kingdom against continuing the brutal crackdown in Eastern Province.

    10 February 2012 Last updated at 15:50 GMT

    ‘Protester’ shot dead in eastern Saudi Arabia
    Continue reading the main story
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    A protester has been killed by security forces in eastern Saudi Arabia, activists have said.

    Munir al-Medani, 21, was shot in the chest late on Thursday when police fired on a demonstration in the town of Qatif, in Eastern Province, they added.

    The police confirmed a man had died, but said officers had responded after being shot at by unidentified gunmen.

    The protesters were reportedly demanding the release of Shia political prisoners and democratic reforms.

    Qatif is home to a Shia majority that has long complained of marginalisation at the hands of the Sunni ruling family, the Al Saud.
    ‘Exchange of fire’

    Saudi opposition websites said at least six other people were injured at Thursday’s demonstration. Photographs and videos posted online meanwhile showed a young man identified as Medani covered in blood.

    A police spokesman in Eastern Province later told the state news agency, SPA, that one “rioter” had been killed and three wounded.

    “A security force patrol came under heavy gunfire from masked men while it was carrying out its duties in al-Shwaika area of Qatif,” he said.

    There was “an exchange of fire that left four of the rioters wounded, one of whom died before reaching hospital”, he added.

    Protests erupted in Eastern Province in March when the popular uprising in neighbouring Bahrain, which has a Shia majority and a Sunni royal family, was crushed with the assistance of Saudi and other Gulf troops.

    In November, four Shia men were shot dead by security forces over four days in Qatif. The interior ministry said they had been armed and operating on “foreign orders” – generally seen as code for Iran.

    Another protester was shot dead last month in the town of al-Awamiya.

    About 500 people have been arrested since March. Activists say 80 remain in custody, including author Nazir al-Majid and human rights activist Fadil al-Munasif.

    Comment by anon — February 22, 2012 @ 7:19 PM | Reply

  5. The Dayaks in Sarawak must vote for at least 10 Dayak MPs from Pakatan Rakyat to make their voices and plight heard loudly in Parliament. To stop the paramount thief minister from plundering the state further, we must vote for at least 20 Pakatan Rakyat candidates into Parliament in GE13.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — February 22, 2012 @ 1:54 PM | Reply

    • The Dayaks should continue with the protest every week and enlighten their folks. The multiple dams which will displace few hundred thousand Dayaks throughout Sarawak are all part of the wider scams of the paramount thief minister, Taib Mahmud, to plunder the state by cashing in on the timber, infrastructure works to be awarded to his family and cronies. Taib must be stopped!

      Comment by Mata Kuching — February 22, 2012 @ 6:26 PM | Reply

  6. Sir Lord Rentap – legendary Dayak warrior that fought Oppressors til death and never captured!

    Dayak BN Goons Cronies now – defend Oppressors BN UMNO til death no matter what!

    Quest for Brooke-era fortress in Sarawak
    By James Ritchie, Borneo Post 2001

    BETONG: A much-fabled fortress on a mist-engulfed Bukit Sadok commanded the Iban heartland in Sri Aman Division in Sarawak. My mission was to trek over at least four peaks to reach the summit of Bukit Sadok, at one time the bastion of Iban nationalists who opposed the troops of the invading White Rajahs 140 years ago.

    After three expeditions between 1857 and 1861, Charles Brooke and his army of several thousand finally captured Chief Rentap’s Fortress only to discover that the wily old chieftain and his band of 24 warriors had abandoned it.

    Rentap “Earth Tremor” whose real name was Libau, was never captured. Even after his death, his remains were concealed until recently when the Iban chieftain was accorded a hero’s burial by the present Sarawak Government at Ulu Wuak in the Julau district.

    Fascinated by his heroics, I decided to revisit the Rentap trail. It took “Rajah Muda” Charles eight days to trek from Nanga Tiga to the peak of Bukit Sadok. Charles finally captured the fortress on October 28, 1861.
    During the ascent of Bukit Sadok, the saga of Rentap’s valour and his fortifications unravelled as two descendants of his band of warriors —”Tuai Rumah” (headman) Kanyan anak Jiram, 38, and Linggi anak Lamat, 47 from Rumah Jambu Kerampak — guided me on a sojourn through time.

    After the five-hour journey from Kuching to Betong and Nanga Tiga, our four-wheel-drive vehicle finally lurched to a halt at the foot of Rumah
    Jambu-Kerampak. It’s the last longhouse before the steep ascent.

    It was a cold and windy night as the village folk gathered at Kanyan’s “bilek” to reminisce about Rentap and swap tales about ascending the Sadok.

    I rouse from sleep at 2 a.m. Strong winds howled all around. Armed with a torch light, I head for the toilet in front of the longhouse and return to the couch where Kanyan has put me up for the night. At 5 a.m. I wake up a second time. There is a sense of excitement and I look out from Kanyan’s back room and see the outline of Bukit Sadok rising majestically on what was to be a clear day.

    We set off at 6 a.m. I knew it was to be an arduous climb but looked forward to it, very much like ten years ago when I first scaled the 7,950-foot Gunung Murud, the highest in Sarawak. I wondered if there would be a tantalising story at the end of it.

    Kanyan and Linggi dressed in their longs. I followed suit, because part of the trail would meander through thick undergrowth. It was a bright day as we pass the pepper gardens of the villagers of Rumah Jambu-Kerampak. I am told that last year alone, the villagers sold some RM18 million worth of pepper products, making them a quite well-to-do community.

    Unlike the days of the Rajahs when Ibans were relegated to the roles of “soldiers, porters and labourers”, the Iban farmers of the Ulu Layar region have the Government to thank. Kanyan said their longhouse is fitted with a RM300,000 solar power set donated by Betong MP Douglas Uggah several years ago.

    As we leave the village, Bukit Sadok peeks out behind the mountain range. Thirty minutes into the initial trek we spy our first hill and
    checkpoint—Bukit Batikal. Along the way we pass rolling slopes and valleys covered with hill paddy which the Ibans have cultivated for two centuries — long before the arrival of the White Rajahs. Charles Brooke on his expedition to Sadok noted in 1858: “The hills had just been burnt clear of every leaf for farming and the paddy in some of the places was already planted.”

    The sun rose as we enter the dewy forests. Strong winds gusted. “Ribut (storm),” exclaimed Linggi who is pleased that it shall be a cool and
    comfortable trek.

    Thick undergrowth had camouflaged the track which had not been trodden for at least seven months. I noticed many freshly-dug holes on the pathway and asked if these were made by wild boar. “Jugam (honey bears)..there are many in the area,” said Kanyan, reminding me that the bears are probably the most ferocious animals in the Borneon forests. Female honey bears (also called Sun bears) with six-inch claws have been known to maul trespassers who approached the cubs. Earlier in the day Kanyan said that it would take about two hours to reach the peak. However, an hour after leaving Rumah Jambu-Kerampak, we had only reached the second hill, Bukit Sanggau. Bukit Sanggau is also known as Bukit “Tanam Tunsang” or “Upside Down Hill” because nearly everyone taking this slippery route ends up on the seat of his pants.

    The next peak we must scale is Bukit Tugong. Here we pass through “Tongkat Ali” (supposedly a powerful aphrodisiac) country; the plants grow wild and is plentiful. Linggi says that we must observe the “adat” (law) while passing this area. Everyone needs to toss a stick or piece of wood on three piles of branches. If not, the visitors will come down with a severe headache and have shivering spells.

    By now we have manoeuvred past the steep slopes and are totally soaked by the dew and sweat. But Kanyan and Linggi, both standing no taller than five-foot-five, have no problems because they often help older folk up and down the hills in a “tambok” (basket). They would have helped me had I been unable to proceed further.

    In his memoirs “Ten Years in Sarawak”, Charles Brooke describes what it was like for an outsider to scale the hill for the first time. “It was now fiery hot…one of our Europeans was completely exhausted; he had only lately arrived from England and was not yet inured to our broiling climate. On a good road in the old country he would doubtless have passed us, but now was so thoroughly “ikak” (exhausted) as to be obliged to be carried on the back of a Dayak.

    “He was a man over six feet in height, and heavy in proportion. The Dayak who carried him up hill after hill, as if he was an infant, was only five feet two inches without shoes.”

    The last hill before the final stretch along a narrow ridge is Bukit Rapu which is the beginning of the “Tatai” (Range) Sadok. By now, it is 9 a.m. We reached Genting Karak where one of Rentap’s loyal followers Nanang, the owner of the famous cannon named Bujang Timpang Berang (the One-armed One), had established his own “langkau” (farm hut).

    “Nanang built his fortifications here because there is a stream nearby which was his source of water,” said Kanyan who is somewhat of a local authority on the legendary hero. Kanyan, who first scaled Bukit Sadok at the age of 12, narrated: “Over the years I have heard many stories about Rentap’s exploits and activities on the mountain from village elders including my father Jiram and maternal grandfather Igoh.”

    Hanging from the rafters are some 30 skulls, some of which were believed to be prized heads taken during the White Rajah’s three expeditions to capture Rentap

    Ten minutes from Genting Karak we reach Lempa’ Pinang, a spot where Rentap established his “langkau” because a second stream also provided a sufficient supply of water for him and his warriors. As we trek along the slippery and narrow ridge measuring between 12 and 14 feet towards Rentap’s eyrie I could imagine how treacherous the terrain could have been and how Charles and his brave warriors felt as they launched their assaults in vain.

    In the failed 1858 Expedition Brooke described one particular incident.

    “I rushed out of the stockade.. (towards Rentap’s Fortress)…and had not passed over meant to demoralise the enemy. “For example if one is injured by the bamboo spikes, he would be weakened and an easy target for Rentap’s men. If he did not retreat back in time, he would be finished off very quickly.”

    Once inside, Brooke discovered that Rentap’s fortifications “proved to be a house within a very formidable stockade impervious to rifle shots, with almost perpendicular declivities on two sides of it” and to be almost impregnable.

    Minutes later we reached the middle portion of the fort with a rocky outcrop called “Melaban Bedil”. This was where Rentap had stationed six “meriam” and “bedil” (cannons) including the “Bujang Timpang Berang”. It was here that Rentap’s men would take cover behind the rocks and fire their cannons at the Rajah’s forces.

    Just before 10 am we reach the Sadok peak which rises to about 3,000 feet. Before us lay the vast Iban hinterland, the Saribas plains and the South China Sea. Even Brooke was amazed by the picture-perfect scenery. He wrote: “When the weather cleared we had a magnificent view of the country around, comprising many of the rivers as well as the sea; this is truly the grandfather as the natives call it, of the surrounding hills.”

    It is from this “grandfather” of mountains that little streams cascaded down the range to form the Layar, Skrang and Tiput rivers. The return journey is more of a trudge as fatigue, the humidity and Bukit Tanam Tunsang took their toll. Back home, Kanyan announced his determination to improve the trail to the ridge. He also hopes to build a jungle hideout for visitors. “You would have noticed that I have marked the trees along the way with red paint. But if the trail is not maintained regularly it will be covered with undergrowth.

    “As the authorities have not told me whether they are going to formally establish a trail to Bukit Sadok, I have decided to go ahead with my own plans and get the village folk involved in improving footpath and building our own jungle house. We want to make this famous hill accessible to outsiders and capitalise on the tourism business,” he said.

    Backing the move is the State Government, with Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu anak Numpang as the prime mover. A RM18 million road from Nanga Tiga to Bair in Ulu Layar is being built.

    “Once the road is completed and tar-sealed the Ulu Layar region will be accessible to everyone allowing the people to enjoy the beautiful Iban outback. All of this is our country, our temuda and I have told my people not to wait too long but to take advantage of the natural heritage our ancestors have left behind for us.”

    Reducing colonial troops to cannon fodder

    ONE-ARM BANDIT…Rentap’s famous “one-armed” cannon named Bujang Timpang Berang which was used against the White Rajah’s troops. The left “trunnion” (arm) of the cannon is broken

    SARAWAK’S most famous cannon nicknamed “Bujang Timpang Berang” lies, almost forlornly, like a forgotten piece of ordnance in front of the
    Betong district office.

    Even though it stares menacingly at visitors, it is now a shadow of what it represented when turn-of-the-century chieftain Rentap used the cannon to fight the forces of the White Rajahs. Owned by one of Rentap’s generals “Pemanca” Nanang, the Bujang Timpang Berang or “One-armed One” was taken in a battle between Iban forces from Sarawak and the Malays of Sambas in the 1830s.

    The three-inch M.L. Gun Dutch-manufactured cannon dated 1515 fell into the hands of villagers in Sambas, West Kalimantan during the Dutch rule.

    However, in a famous skirmish between Iban fighters and some members of the Sambas royalty, Nanang managed to capture the gun, although the left trunnion (side arm) broke in the heat of the battle.

    It was taken back to Sarawak, and Rentap used it as part of his armoury to defend the fortress at Bukit Sadok.

    Six-cannon Rentap

    According to headman Kanyan anak Jiram, Rentap had six cannons stationed in the middle of his fortress at a spot called “Menalan Bedil”, with Bujang Timpang Berang as the centrepiece. Menalan Bedil or “Site of the Cannon clearing” is an interesting piece of artefact because part of the rocky outcrop is broken—possibly after being hit by the Rajah’s cannon shots with his equally formidable 12-pound gun (it had to be slung on a pole and hauled up Bukit Sadok by 60 men) named “Bujang Sadok” (the Sadok Bachelor).

    In his book “Ten Years in Sarawak”, Charles Brooke states: “Our first shot went through their port holes and killed the principal man watching their guns (at Menalan Bedil); besides this, there were remains of three or four others killed, but Rentap had gone, and the sly old fox I fear, will get away among the holes and corners of this mountain.”

    Not far from Menalan Bedil was Rentap’s “langkau” which was precariously perched on top of a precipice with a sheer 1,000 foot drop. Brooke said that if a landslip took place (and it rains incessantly in that part of the region) then “Rentap and his shell (langkau) must have gone to the bottom and been dashed to pieces.” Added a pensively sanguine Charles, “How a man and his family could have lived for so many years on such a spot is marvellous, and nought but a most determined spirit of resistance could have supported him in such discomfort and danger.”

    After the Battle of Bukit Sadok the cannon was abandoned on the summit for at almost 70 years before is was retrieved and brought back to Betong by Brooke office G.R. H. Arundell and Penghulu Unji in 1928. The cannon was lashed to a sled and, held by ropes, slowly lowered down steep slopes to Betong.

    “The Bujang Timpang Berang is part of the “Ensera” of the Iban and we take pride that it is part of out rich heritage,” said Kanyan. “But I am told that Rentap had an even larger cannon which was used against the Rajah.”

    Kanyan said that the larger cannon which had to be carried by at least 12 men, sank into the river when the boat of the fleeing warriors of Rentap’ army sank. “I am told that the cannon sank somewhere in the foothills and has now been covered by rocks over the years. It will be difficult retrieving the cannon.”

    Kanyan said that among the artefacts in the possession of his village are two cannon shots which were found at the foothills and 160 heads, some belonging to the Rajah’s warriors, which were taken over the last 200 years.

    Comment by Kamus — February 22, 2012 @ 12:22 PM | Reply

  7. “The Ibans and Bidayuhs being the two largest native races in Sarawak were made fools by the federal government all these 46 years since Malaysia was formed and no elected Dayak representatives, until today dared to speak on this Umno and the Malays from Malaya to control the Dayaks in Sarawak.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Report lodged against Voon for ‘seditious’ remarks
    The Borneo Post, Thursday 19 November 2009

    KUCHING: A police report has been lodged against Voon Lee Shan (DAP-Batu Lintang) for alledgedly making seditious and racial remarks in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on Nov 11. Six Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives led by Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (BN-Asajaya) lodged the report at the Gita Police Station at 11.39am yesterday. The other five BN representatives comprised Bukit Saban assemblyman Robert Lawson Chuat, Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Nelson Balang Rining, Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil and Pujut assemblyman Andy Chia. Karim said Voon had uttered words in the DUN which were deemed seditious and unhealthy for a multi-ethnic country like Malaysia. “You cannot use words that disrupt racial harmony and incite one race against the other. And that is how it sounded when you read those three paragraphs (of the Hansard). It has that sort of connotation, ” he told reporters at the DUN. The three paragraphs he was referring to was part of Voon’s debate speech on the Supply Bill (2010), 2009 in which he touched on the classification of ‘Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera’.

    The three paragraphs are as follows: “When we formed Malaysia we made ourselves subject to classifications by being called ‘Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera’. Our Dayak brothers in Sarawak trapped themselves and did not realise the dream of a great Malay leader in the person of Tunku Abdul Rahman, to divide Malaysians to Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera was to enhance Malay dominance in politics and race over other races in Malaysia. “Malay, a supreme race, was followed by Natives, but unknowingly to our Dayak brothers, the defination of ‘Natives’ has left out Iban and Bidayuh races of Sarawak. This is how the Malay race of Malaya as planned by Tunku Abdul Rahman, had controlled Malaysian politics and economy for past 46 years. “The Ibans and Bidayuhs being the two largest native races in Sarawak were made fools by the federal government all these 46 years since Malaysia was formed and no elected Dayak representatives, until today dared to speak on this Umno and the Malays from Malaya to control the Dayaks in Sarawak.”

    Karim said that in his own debate speech on Nov 13, he had asked Voon to withdraw these remarks and to apologise to the august house as well as asking for these words to be expunged from the Hansard. However, he said, Voon refused to do so even when he was given till Nov 17 to withdraw and apologise. “Even though in the DUN, we have special privileges there are limitations to this. “We can’t simply utter words that will contravene the Sedition Act 1948. “We actually didn’t want to resort to this sort of action but he didn’t want to (withdraw),” he said, adding that this was the first time BN representatives had lodged a report of this kind against fellow DUN member. He said it was up to the police and the government if Voon would end up being entangled with the Internal Security Act (ISA). When asked what if action was taken against Voon under ISA, Karim replied: “…Well, I cannot prejudge this. If possible, I don’t want this to go to that level. We sympathise with our friend.” He said if Voon should change his mind and wanted to withdraw his statement and then apologise, he would have to deal with the police.

    In response, Voon later told reporters that he was “speaking for the voice of 2.07 million people of Sarawak” and the issue he spoke in the DUN affected constitutional issues and also the rights of the Dayaks and the Malays. “There were also threats that they will use ISA against me but I feel that this is the unbecoming style of the BN to flex their muscles because they have the numbers to go against us (the opposition). I just pray that the 2.07 million people are behind me,” he said. He claimed that surprisingly, he had received moral support and congratulatory messages from certain Dayak YBs who were pleased that he had brought the issue up. Voon said he was also on the verge of lodging a police report against some DUN members for sending him text messages which he believed was tantamount to ‘criminal intimidation and also political harassment” against him.

    He said that these text messages not only affected him but also DAP at large and this was clearly the style of BN. “It’s their right to lodge a police report but with that I may also lodge a police report because I feel that the SMS sent to me is tantamount to criminal intimidation and contempt of privileges of the House…I feel that I should be protected under the Federal Constitution,” he added. On this note, Karim countered that the BN YB whom Voon referring to could probably be him. This was because he and Voon had been exchanging SMS after the controversial debate. However, Karim believed that his messages to Voon were not incriminating at all, rather it was form of an advice and reminder. He said that he had revealed these messages to the police when lodging the report and even read to reporters part of the messages. Karim said Voon initiated the messaging by admitting that he got a bit emotional during the debate.

    The following is an exchange of some of the SMS between the two assemblymen as disclosed by Karim:
    Karim: “With all due respect to you, the line of your debate today thus reflect slight tone of provocation and incitement among races which is not healthy. ” I hope we can do away with all this, I respect you as a friend and an Honourable Member and I have kept reminding the (BN) Backbenchers to refrain themselves from this sensitive topic of one race overriding the other and I hope the same could be done among Pakatan Rakyat. “We are leaders and we must try to do our responsible part to preserve the harmony we are enjoying now. My apologies whether my teguran (advice) seem harsh.”

    Voon: “Thank you very much. I went back and reflected and realise that I was a bit overboard. I hope you can all understand me and I thank you for your advice. I hope to be more careful and not be carried away. We have to see the interest of our state be protected and Federal should be reminded of what is due to us.”

    Karim: “I’m as patriotic to our beloved state as you are and would like to see the state get much development and attention as any loyal Sarawakian. It’s just that our approach with Kuala Lumpur is more discreet.”

    Comment by Kamus — February 22, 2012 @ 12:17 PM | Reply

  8. Where are the Iban Warriors In Politics????????????????
    Voon Lee Shan blog Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Iban people were traditionally brave people. They feared no one and were well known for their bravery. History told us that they also had good leaders, who were capable to enter into military alliances with one another and able to moblilize hundreds of followers under their direction for territorial expansion. For newly opened region or territory during their head hunting days, their tuai menoa allocated settlement areas to their followers and their young men who displayed courage in the battlefield were entitled to called bujang berani or “brave bachelor”. In the old days, they were truly warriors and they led and were never wanted to be led by other people. So, they fought against the Rajahs.

    Their bravery helped young Malaysia grew to what it is today. Malaysia needed them in early years and in time of peace, they still served the nation well. Iban were good trackers and their service in the Royal Malaysian Rangers was exemplary and many were awarded with bravery awards for their prowess in fighting the insurgencies. Their display of bravery was consistent with their motto, “Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban”.

    In Rangers, they also displayed not only exceptional courage, but, also exemplary leadership and discipline.

    Brookes Changed Iban Leadership

    Things now changed. They no more led, but, were led by others through their leaders. Why and how could this happen?

    One thing for sure about the iban people was that, the iban or dayaks in general were good, honest and obedient followers. The Brookes were smart and when they ruled Sarawak, they appointed Iban warriors as native chiefs. It was through these native chiefs that Brooke’s rule became more peaceful and Sarawak’s territory then expanded. The British who took over from Brookes also did the same thing and this strategy worked well to keep the iban in peace with the government. Iban people lived simple lives and were never demanding and it was their culture that taught them to respect and be obedient to their elders or tuai. In the longhouses, their tuai who headed their longhouses were called tuai rumah. These tuai rumah were powerful figures and they provided the link with the government.

    The anakbiaks in the longhouses in return for their loyalty and obedience to their tuai rumah will get some subsides in terms of fertilizers, some granite for their roads which normally were distributed to them as “election installments”. That is, these subsidies will only normally be distributed when elections were around. However, the iban could not simply get these subsides unless their tuai rumah were obedient and loyal to the government. The BN government held them under political ransom and the present system will continue to make them so.

    Therefore, until today the system of tuai rumah has been maintained and given the few hundred ringgits as monthly allowances, these tuai rumah had then been instrumental in controlling and influencing their anaknembiaks to be obedient and loyal to the government. With the exceptional loyalty as their trademark and embedded as a culture, the Barisan Nasional government has until now since independence ruled Sarawak through iban patronage. That also prolonged Pehin Sri Taib, a melanau and a muslim as the Chief Minister of Sarawak. With that, Taib may wish to perpetuate the melanau dynasty which began from his uncle Tun Rahman, in ruling Sarawak, by making his son, Sulaiman as the next chief minister.

    Kuala Lumpur followed Brookes

    When Malaysia was formed in September 16, 1963, the federal government in Kuala Lumpur also followed Brooke. They knew, Apai Jugah was too influential among the Ibans and other dayaks. They respected and were loyal to Apai Jugah. So as not to rock the peace already established through Brookes’ rule, the federal government then appointed Apai Jugah as a Federal Minister. With Apai Jugah, the iban just continued to get some subsides. The iban together with the melanaus and malays in Malaysia were bumiputera, but, the iban until today could not enjoy what the malays could normally get.

    Gone was Apai Jugah, the BN government perpetuates iban loyalty to the government by absorbing iban leaders and politicians into the government. These leaders were given posts and many perks and in order to enjoy these perks, they found it difficult to regroup under one political party to pull their strengths together to help their people. They have to help themselves first. They have to form as many political parties as possible so that they could become party presidents. This is because by becoming party presidents or holding important party positions, these leaders will then be in a position to get benefits for themselves and be appointed ministers by UNMO-run BN government.

    The few leaders, like Jabu, Moggie, Masing, Mawan, Entulu, were said very rich. So, the the dayaks being led by others will continue through them. The iban never since Brookes’ days led, but, was led by others through their leaders. What the iban got until noalthough we are already independent from the clutches of foreign powers, were subsidies and not capitals for the development of the community. The present political strategy of UMNO-PBB will see the majority of the iban to continue to be poor. While their leaders lived in big towns and cities, could enjoy piped water and driving luxurious cars, with oil palm plantations from NCR lands giving them perpetuating income and wealth, the majority of the iban or dayaks will see themselves poor and to live without proper water and electricity supply.

    In return for their wealth they got from their positions in the government, these iban leaders who presently are in the government will continue to be obligated to tell the iban people that only BN government could give the iban subsidies in the longhouses. This was of course true, but, the iban did not realize that the giving to them subsides will continue to make them poor. It would be different, if Pakatan Rakyat takes over the government. Instead of subsides, the iban will get capitals to start their lives.

    The iban now has no political warriors who are capable to lead the community against the Barisan Nasional and against the dominance of the melanau-malays in Sarawak politics. Ningkan, an iban from Betong who was supported by many Chinese tycoons in his days was too aggressive. His display of the typical dayak arrogance and bravery was seen a threat by the federal government led by the malays from UMNO. Political manoeuvreing saw Ningkan being kicked out of his chief ministership. Ningkan who displayed exceptional political courage and leadership of an iban warrior, Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban, was seen a threat to UNMO rule through the BN government in Sarawak through melanau-malays. These melanau-malays were mostly muslims, but, is not a large group in the state.

    Had Ningkan not been toppled, iban today would be under a better umbrella and could have enjoyed better lives. Maybe, it was and still is the policy of federal government to see that iban should not become the governor and chief minister of Sarawak and should continue to be led and not to lead by other races. This was made more difficult in recent years after the amendment to the State Constitution because, it seems that to be a governor, the governor must be a muslim and in the case of iban, this would be something almost impossible as most ibans are Christians. Due to the amendment to the State Constitution, the iban, like the Chinese, would also find themselves difficult to become Speakers of the Dewan Undangan Negeri.

    Iban Must Change

    DAP and PKR with some help from SNAP and STAR are here to change the iban lives, but, if Iban people refuses to change nothing much DAP and PKR could do. Iban leaders like, Jabu, Masing, Mawan, Sylvester Entri, Peter Nyarok and Francis Hardin, being senior iban politicians could bring better change to the iban community, but, it seems that they prefer to be led and not to lead. They should be the iban political warriors to take the lead to bring the iban and other dayaks to greater heights. They should realize that iban being the largest race in Sarawak should lead and not be led by the minorities.

    Never, at anytime I heard them speaking against any of the policies put up by the government. They lacked political courage to speak against the evils of the government and when they saw Taib coming to the Dewan Undangan Negri, they all rushed towards him, trying to get Taib’s attention. Sometimes, I observed that when Taib saw them coming, Taib just shook their hands with them, but, with his face turning away looking at others around!

    So if iban people want change, they should no more be dependent on their present leaders. Instead, they have to take the lead themselves, throw away their present leaders and change the government. The iban people have lost its grip in power and the only way to overcome this is to change the government.

    Comment by Kamus — February 22, 2012 @ 12:13 PM | Reply

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