Hornbill Unleashed

April 1, 2013

SDNU openly champions Native Customary Rights and Lands!

 Vernon Aji Kedit

Surprise! Surprise!

It has taken the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) a week and a half to react to the Global Witness video. SDNU’s Vice President Anthony Banyan, in a statement published in the Borneo Post last February, was quite clear that “SDNU has no political affiliation and this is how it should always remain,” and I applaud him for his neutrality (see ). And today, Banyan has kept his word by coming out strongly against the allegations made in the Global Witness video (see ).

Based on the report published today, SDNU issued its statement following the SDNU supreme council meeting on Wednesday, which we presume must have been chaired by its President William Mawan, whose other hat is, of course, President of the Sarawak People’s Democratic Party (SPDP), a Sarawak based party in the BN ruling coalition with a Dayak majority membership. However, the eye-brow raising statement was released and signed by its Vice-President, Anthony Banyan, and not by William Mawan. Which is intriguing, to say the least.

Why do I say intriguing? Well, SDNU did not mince its words. In fact, SDNU used very strong words, and the underlying message behind those words is even stronger. Just to quote several sentences from the SDNU statement:

“Whether the remark was designed to put a wedge between the Dayak community, particularly the Iban and the ruling government or uttered naturally by the subjects in the video, we still view such remark as demeaning and deplorable.”

Thank you SDNU for standing up for the Dayak community and calling a spade a spade. The remarks in the video were indeed demeaning, deplorable, disgusting, humiliating and most shockingly, uttered nonchalantly by subjects related very closely by blood to the Chief Minister. It must have taken SDNU a lot of courage to actually tell the Chief Minister off, in a roundabout sort of way, that it.

However, the real meat of the statement came blazing through loud and clear:

“We also condemn the remark suggesting that the Dayaks are squatters on state land as it is baseless.”

SDNU was being polite in using the word ‘suggesting’. Datin Norlia Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub did not ‘suggest’ that Dayaks are squatters. She said it outright. But let’s not quibble. The point is that SDNU has publicly declared that Dayaks living on state land are not squatters, and this in itself is a milestone and one that should be applauded by all sensible Dayaks. To put it in a nutshell, SDNU condemns anyone who is saying that Dayaks who live on so-called ‘state lands’ have no Native Customary Rights, and are therefore, in effect, agreeing with what Pakatan Rakyat has been saying all along.

At first reading of the statement, I was quite taken aback. I had to re-read the sentence, to be sure that this was the underlying message that SDNU was sending out. And sure enough, there it was, in black and white.

The next paragraph removed all doubts I had. No underlying theme, but an outright clarion call:

“We call upon all quarters to stand up for the Dayak community and recognise our rights over land as well as be sensitive towards the feelings of the Dayaks.”

Nothing can be clearer than what SDNU had just written; “recognise our rights over land.” This is an overt and direct statement relating to Native Customary Rights and Native Customary Lands, and follows the precedent set by the celebrated Mabo vs. Queensland Judgment and its implications worldwide where English Common Law overrides Constitutional Law in legal systems that are based on the English legal system. The precedent created by the Mabo Case was applied successfully by Baru Bian in the landmark Malaysian case of Nor Anak Nyawai vs. BPP & Ors, which went to the highest Malaysian court, the Federal Court, TWICE. And both times Baru Bian won. Dayaks HAVE rights over ‘state lands’. Yet, the Sarawak Government refuses to accept the Court’s decision and continues its policy of alienating ancient Dayak lands.

Based on these very clear words, we can surmise and come to only one conclusion: that SDNU’s Supreme Council, made up of several BN senior politicians, has issued a statement that unequivocally says that it now agrees with Pakatan Rakyat’s policy on indigenous lands. Now this is why I say it is intriguing because this is definitely news! Big news! SDNU, despite being led by top Barisan Nasional Dayak leaders, are going against the grain and in no small way!

YBs William Mawan and his deputy in SDNU, Alex Nanta Linggi, may not have signed the statement but getting their subordinate Vice-President Anthony Banyan to sign the statement is telling. What is William Mawan, boss of SPDP and Alex Linggi, senior member of PBB, exactly saying with the issuance of this very bold statement via SDNU? Are they striking out at Taib through the backdoor? Is this a veiled condemnation of Taib’s policies on NCR lands?

Most shocking of all, the Women’s Wing of SDNU, which is headed by Empiang Jabu, the wife of the Deputy Chief Minister, also gave its fullest backing to the statement. Stunning! Is Jabu now tacitly telling his ‘beloved Pehin Sri’ that he too is upset by the slur on the Dayaks and that he has finally had an epiphany on the eve of Easter? Are our Dayak ‘leaders’ finally staging a silent protest against Taib and family?

The plot gets thicker and I am literally at the edge of my seat with excitement! The political landscape is shifting, and it seems clear now why our Dayak leaders did not come to Taib’s aid and rescue when the debacle exploded last two weeks ago.

The Game of Thrones is afoot in Sarawak and the first very public crack in the polished façade of BN Sarawak’s frail unity is now vividly clear, thanks to SDNU’s unmistakably refreshing and about-turn statement. And by any account, this is a big crack which Taib cannot ignore and hope will go away. SDNU has spoken loud and clear. Are the daggers finally drawn? We wait with bated breath for the next public reaction from either Taib or Mawan or for that matter, from the self-proclaimed Paramount Chief of the Dayaks, Jabu himself. Mutiny is always fun to watch from a distance.

Posted by Vernon Aji Kedit


  1. Call a spade a spade: Dayaks are squattors in Sarawak. Of course it is true. Why bullshit and say that Dayaks own Sarawak? Where is the evidence of ownership? All the laws whereby native rights are recognized. Go deeper you will find those laws are not for real. The reality is even by NCRs Dayak don’t own any land in Sarawak. They would only own any if the government of the day say so, not otherwise. Section 5 Sarawak Land Code (Cap. 81) says “land without title” belong to the State. Therefore all dwellers living on these land without titles are squattors.

    Comment by Anek — April 2, 2013 @ 9:51 AM | Reply

    • Who drafted this Section 5 of the Land Code or all the oppressive laws in Sarawak, bullying the natives and steal the land of the native?

      It is drafted by JC Fong alias Fong Joo Chung, the blood brother of Taib, the Thief Minister.

      This is also how and why he got to be the Attorney General, even until now, when he is well passed his 55 years retirement age.

      BTW, JC is also the Freemason brethren of the thief, Taib.

      All those who go after the Rahman sisters, Norlia and Fatimah must also go for their lawyer, Alvin Chong.

      All those who go after the thief, Taib must also go for this running dog, JC Fong.

      Every thief has a henchman!

      Comment by MM — April 2, 2013 @ 5:12 PM | Reply

  2. Another sandiwara by Mawan and Empian. Do they dare to point to their Maha Master Taib with the content of the VCD or they just barking kosong? No need pura pura sibuk lah. The time will come when you too will be kicked out. What SDNU has done for all the many bullies that have been done to Dayak Sarawak, such as the case of Surik Mentai?

    Mawan just acts to a limit which he dare not goes beyong other else Taib will call his number, then he will urinate in trousers. Taib still holding Mawan 2 balls which he can break them any time he wants to.

    I can assure you all that, there will be no further action after this. This is sucked BN play and drama

    Comment by Sarawak Headhunter Family — April 1, 2013 @ 1:23 PM | Reply

    • Mawan and Empiang were just doing damage control to save the skin of the thief minister . The gullible Dayaks in SDNU allows these partners in crime of Taib Mahmud to make use of SDNU to just smack the wrist of Fatimah and Norlia Tun Abdul Rahman Yacub

      Comment by Augustine William — April 1, 2013 @ 11:22 PM | Reply

  3. We have lost the trees and junggles, the rivers are dirty and almost lifeless. If we continue on this path and loose our lands to them, we are doomed to be landless, forever be slaves, be rediculed as stupid, called naughty and squatters in what was once our LAND!

    Its either we stop them now or let them continue to lord our us and our future generations. We have already experienced the pain of being forcefully displaced, removed and now being treated as squatters on land we own! Are we going to let our future generations to go through the same pains and suffer the same fate as we now do?

    SDNU guys, thank you for being brave for once. You have shown that you do have some leadership qualities after all!!

    Comment by brian — April 1, 2013 @ 9:20 AM | Reply

  4. Make sure that the Lieutenants do not abandon their General half way through the fight. We do not want another Ming Court scenario? We do not want to “karam dua kali”!

    Comment by Edward, M — April 1, 2013 @ 8:20 AM | Reply


    Comment by ANGRY DAYAK — April 1, 2013 @ 1:39 AM | Reply

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