Sarawak DAP expands into Iban areas

by Wong Ho Leng
Chairman, DAP Sarawak

In November 2008, DAP approved the formation of two (2) predominantly Iban branches at Sibu Jaya and Sungai Merah, both in Sibu (Another predominantly Iban branch approved was Bintangor Scheme B).

This morning, members from these 2 branches gathered at the Sibu DAP office to hold their first Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elect the first office bearers.

The small DAP premises was filled to the full by these members. Every chair was occupied. Some members even had to stand throughout the meeting.

More branches will be formed in rural areas in the next few months. The formation of these branches will bear testimony that we are not content to work in the Chinese areas alone and shout for the rural constituencies from outside. We are determined to go rural, and to see improvement in the lives of all races, in particular, the economically besieged and poor Dayaks. These rural areas should have DAP Iban leaders serve them. They should go for change.

Several Iban leaders spoke at the meeting before the election of office bearers. They had one common theme in their speeches – the BN Government has neglected them despite promising the skies. They felt that their leaders have always resorted to threats and intimidation, dissuading them to join Opposition parties. They urged their members not to fear, because their community leaders are paid by the BN to speak for the BN Government. Often, their plights have not been relayed to the Government. Their voices were not heard. Needless to day, their speech were laced with the desire to see change.

Several SUPP and Dayak leaders used to tell me that the political sky-change in Sarawak will take place if the Ibans wake from their bondage to their leaders. These people are poor, and that is an asset to the BN. They hold them by the thread of poverty. They would promise them the sky but will not deliver.

I can see the desire to see change in the mindset of the Ibans. It looks like the end of BN Government in Sarawak is at hand.

In my speech, I said that the Ibans comprise 30% of the population in Sarawak. Though the biggest race, they are the poorest in Sarawak. They face problems not only in their land but also with earning a living in Sarawak. Many of the Iban youths have to leave Sarawak to work in the factories in Johore, Selangor and Penang. It is said that there are 40,000 Ibans working in Johore alone. They are also employed in the factories in Singapore.

Why can’t they seek employment in the state of their birth? Why have they to look for greener pastures outside Sarawak?

I said from the bottom of my heart that the Ibans are poor because the BN Government has not looked after them well. With so many years in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, I know that their elected wakil rakyat are happy with the BN Government. As a result not much has changed in the lives and welfare of the Iban communities.

I said that during my time in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, I have not heard the Iban elected wakil rakyat of the BN fighting earnestly for the community, especially in solving the problems concerning the NCR land.

Over the years, we see NCR land taken from the Ibans. Yet, despite their so called involvement in the New Concept of NCR Development, many Ibans have complained that they have not been given their just rewards and dividends.

The Ibans should help themselves by booting out the BN Government in the next state election.

  1. #1 by pakmang on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 2:44 pm

    Dear WB Wong,

    The BN government has been in power too long resulted the blatant formation of nepotism & cronyism among themselves. It is good to see some drastic political changes bring by the oposition parties which would benefit to the poorer group of the races in Sarawak.

    I believed they are a lot of the rakyat will support the changes! Keep it up.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 3:01 pm

    The Kelantanese are also poor, but they have the brains to kick out BN long, long ago. Being poor need not mean that the Dayaks have to vote for BN. It is being bodoh that the Dayaks had voted for BN. They should have realised after 44 years that voting for BN means committing hara-kiri on themselves.

    It is reported that families who cannot return to their Bukit Antarabangsa homes because of the fear of landslides are to be given RM1,000 a month as rental. If money can be given to these rich sods who in all probability have 2nd and even 3rd homes nearby, why can’t similar monetary aid be given to the numerous poor who do not have a pondok to call home?

  3. #3 by cintanegara on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 3:04 pm

    Ibans are very loyal to the country and we can see many of them joining the military and police force. They are willing to die while defending the country and Kanang anak Langkau is a good example. He NEVER asked and question about the privilages/benefits enjoyed by others despite himself living in poverty. He is a true hero who sincerely sacrifice for the country.

    They have a strong reason not to vote for DAP and DAP should not waste their time begging for Ibans’ votes.

  4. #4 by a-malaysian on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 3:14 pm

    The road is long, winding and even treacherous but the fight must go on. DAP must go to the people and not wait for them to come you. Important thing is DAP leaders can guide the local DAP members but do not let West Malaysian members to be too involved. Let the local DAP handle themselves as they know the local needs and welfare of their people.

    Internal bickering is always the cause of failures.

    Malaysia For All

    GE 13 – No matter what, we must ensure that racist umno bn do not regain the power like they had for the past fifty one years.

  5. #5 by Saint on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 4:47 pm

    Great news DAP.
    Keep it up. Multiracial we are.

  6. #6 by Onlooker Politics on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 6:51 pm

    There are many different groups of Iban people. Some of them are animist. Some are Muslim, and some are Christian. Therefore, to unite all Iban people under the DAP leadership is no easy task.

    However, if each and everyone member of DAP is willing to go visit the poorest remote village of Iban people, I believe most Iban people will begin to find a good ground for building the emotional attachment with DAP. I do not think that DAP members need to imitate BN opportunists by carrying along with him a briefcase which is full of cash note in order to please the poorest Iban people. However, it is advisable for DAP members to carry along some food items such as rice, fish, meat and vegetables in order to prepare some decent foods for the poor villagers because this is the basic courtesy for paying a visit to a tribal village. All outsiders can bring along the foods as a friendly present in order to pose a friendly gesture to the remote villagers for building a close rapport.

    The smart politician should always bear in mind about the truth that whether he could win or lose in a political campaign would all depend on how many strangers’ hands he had ever shaked before he started to woo people to cast vote in favour of him!

  7. #7 by HJ Angus on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 6:57 pm

    Congrats DAP on starting to work with the Sarawak people.
    Great advice from Onlooker Politics.
    I also suggest you get some DAP members who are church-goers to get to know those who attend services – that way you can build a data-base of families and plan your approach with more focus as i am sure resources are limited.

  8. #8 by wanderer on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 8:00 pm

    The Ibans were the victims of the BN…having too much trust placed on the crooked regime, resulting in their future and influence being fully screwed!
    Time is changing, so is the political awareness. It is very encouraging to see DAP making this wonderful move. Let DAP be seen as a multi-racial political party, serving all Malaysians. It is also about time, DAP moves beyond the city boundary and let their presence be felt in the rural areas.
    Like the famous christian saying, “Man cannot live on bread alone”

  9. #9 by juno on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 8:42 pm

    Bravo Bro Wong! I’m so glad DAP is being represented there. Its time to get all the dishonest out thro’ the ballot and returning the power to the people there . They have been silenced for too long by a hoodlum clan all along. They will be exposed
    Sarawak by now would have been a nature’s wonder– but the land has been pilfered by all the self imposed powers corrupted to the core. The rights to the Land must be returned to its people soon!

  10. #10 by chengho on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 8:57 pm

    Leave the Iban alone DAP will never want to live in very remote place to love the nature. the Iban very loyal to their heritage leader unless kit promote himself in Bario .

  11. #11 by Johnny Cheah on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 10:35 pm

    Good that DAP is going the extra mile. This is definitely the correct step. In fact Pakatan Rakyat should have this strategy to give their best to penetrate the rural areas. If they can succeed in this venture I firmly believe they will win in the 13th. general election

  12. #12 by katdog on Monday, 22 December 2008 - 11:06 pm

    Oh. Is this Wong guy the guy who couldn’t agree with PKR Sarawak on having straight fights versus BN in Sarawak that cost PR several seats?

    It’s good that DAP is finally trying to get members other than just chinese.Before this, DAP spends too much time harping on things like chinese schools, chinese newspapers and chinese signboards. It’s good that DAP is finally trying to get members representative of what a true Malaysian Malaysia ought to be.

  13. #13 by All For The Road on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 12:08 am

    The lot of the Ibans and the Dayaks especially the poor in Sarawak has not improved much after 27 years of Taib Mahmud’s tyrannical rule since 1981. The state government should be headed by a leader from the Iban/Dayak commmunity which forms more than 60 per cent of Sarawak’s population.

    Of late, the tide of sentiments towards the present state government has changed and political change for the better it should be for the Iban/Dayak community has the numbers and the will-power to initiate change for a better Sarawak and its people.

    The DAP in setting up branches in Iban areas is a step in the right direction to mobilise support for a political change. With the help of other Sarawak opposition parties and PKR, political change can be a reality in the forth coming state general elections expected to be held some time next year.

  14. #14 by chiakchua on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 4:55 am

    Yes, all Malaysians must fight for fairness to be upheld for our Dayak, Iban, Kadazan and other real Bumiputra brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak. They had been taken for a ride and cheated for too long by UMNOputras, and the stupid cronies’ parties in those 2 states! Go PR! That’s the only hope.

    I wish to take this oppurtunity to express my appreciation of the way the open tender had saved taxpayers’ money in Penang to repair the cable car; it got repaired at RM700,000.00 compared to highest bidders of the 4 bids received at RM1.4 millions. It could have been a mammoth sum of several millions if it had been under the BN! This is a small step towards the big Reformasi!

    And we have also seen the state government had taken step to try to overcome the trafic congestion problem at Penang bridge, though it had failed! Keep it up YB Lim Fong Seng. Please consider to implement prohibition of usage of the bridge during the peak hours as follows:
    Monday (1): vehicles with registration number ending 1 & 6
    Tuesday (2): 2 & 7
    Wednesday (3): 3 & 8
    Thursday(4): 4 & 9
    Friday (5): 5 & 0
    Above is the basic of implementation, you may modify such as it is only applicable to passenger cars only, and some advance notice of say 2 to 3 months must be served to allow those affected to get their car pool on their affected days, and many others such as outstation cars.

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