Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru) say they are contesting in Tanjong Datu by-election on Feb 18 to create greater awareness of their struggles for the Dayaks despite the odds against them.
Their president Cobbold John insisted that even if the party had only a 30 per cent chance of winning the three-cornered contest, particularly against the mighty Barisan Nasional (BN), they would carry on with their struggles.
“If we regain our deposit, that would be better. What is important is that we want to get our message across,” he told a press conference to launch the party’s election manifesto here yesterday.
A few weeks ago, the party said they did not see any point to contest in the Malay-majority seat which has around 9,000 registered voters.
Cobbold explained from time-to-time that things had changed.
The oil palm planter said the time was now conducive for creating greater awareness on Dayaks’ struggle to restore native customary rights (NCRs) over land following last December Federal Court’s unfavourable decision that NCRs namely Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau had no force of law.
PBDS Baru is fielding 31-year-old physically-challenged Rapelson Richard Hamit who hails from Batu Gong in Siburan but whose wife, Winnie Galau, comes from Kampung Temelan in Lundu.
Describing himself as a NCR activist, Rapelson graduated from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences in 2008. He said he was also good at land mapping and surveying.
Rapelson said even the Lundu Malays were not spared from land issues because residents of Kampung Sebat lost their NCR case at the High Court several years ago but decided not to appeal against the court decision due to lack of money.
Cobbold said most NCRs claimants stopped appealing to the higher courts because of lack of fund to finance lawyers’ fees. For an NCR claimant to get his case to the High Court would require him to fork out RM20,000 in legal fees and costs, RM50,000 (at Court of Appeal) and RM100,000 (at Federal Court).
Rapelson said PBDS Baru’s seven-pronged manifesto included calling for the chief minister’s post to be rotated between the Dayak and Malay/Melanau personality in the future.
Rapelson is not a greenhorn in politics as his first contest was in Gedong in the last state election but he lost. He will be facing BN’s Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu, widow of the Tanjong Datu incumbent the late chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem and State Reform Party’s Johnny Bob Aput.
Source : @ Borneo Post Online