I was baffled and astonished to read the remark recently by James Masing (PRS half-president) in referring to a DAP state assembly person’s debate on the land issue in the Sarawak state assembly as a ‘cultural arrogance". I wonder, with his doctorate in anthropology, yet he has invented such term which to him simply means: ‘Don't tell the Dayaks what land means to them and what Dayaks need to do to develop such land’.
In other words, Masing was telling the world that the Dayaks (Masing included) already knew all issues related to land development (including all the amendments to Land Code and other laws related to land) and need no help from non-Dayaks.
Well, well, here we go. I am even more shameful when it takes Chinese state assembly persons (Ting Tze Hui (DAP-Meradong) and Voon Lee Shan (DAP-Batu Lintang) to raise the issue concerning Dayaks most revered heritage (land) whilst the bunch of 26 Dayak so-called YBs sit in deafening silence in the dewan echoing what Masing said. Forget about scoring political mileage.
My questions are: Do you all (Masing and the 26 Dayak YBs) really fully understand the subsequent implications of what the Land Code’s recent series of amendments were? Do you all truthfully believe it when the Minister of Resource Planning (Taib Mahmud) explained in 2001 that the amendment (and subsequent ammendments) were necessary to enable and allow for smooth land transactions involving native customary rights (NCR)?
Have you all forgotten that in1965, the so-called ‘The Land Bill Crisis’ when the then CM Kalong Ningkan tabled the Land Bill, almost similar to the current amendment, but the Bill was withdrawn as it received objections from a majority of the state assembly persons then? This then led to the unpopularity of the late Kalong Ningkan.
Since you, Masing, claim to be the supremely knowledgeable person to speak about land and NCR issues, I beg you to justify the state government’s wrongdoings and systematic extinguishment of our NCR by giving satisfactory explanations to these questions.
Did you all honestly know that the whole Land Code Amendment intention was to facilitate the acquisition of native land to be developed into large-scale oil palm plantations? Do you all not know that as the Land Code amendments stands now, Native Customary Rights over land may be extinguished via the Land Code?
Do you not know that surveys to determine the compensation payable are being questioned and challenged as being arbitrary? Do you all not already know that some communities who are challenging the extinguishment of their land rights and compensation are those who have been affected by the Bakun Dam project and the Borneo Pulp and Paper Project in Bintulu?
Do you not know that for the Dayaks, land is not a commodity to be simply traded for money? That Land is a living entity that is precious and holds a deep spiritual meaning for us and is revered in our society and this also means that it cannot be simply be bought and sold?
You and your shameful Dayak state assembly colleagues owe the whole Dayak community and our generations an explanation to justify the Sarawak government’s ruthless and inhumane treatment of defenders of NCR.
If you can't justify these actions, then let others do. But what does this mean? It means you and your bunch of ‘mentally arrogant’ Dayak YBs are irrelevant and be ready to be voted out - sooner than you think.IB