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Pakatan’s alternative budget ‘empowers’ Dayaks

The Dayak

by Joseph Tawie

Dayaks who have been ‘deprived of convenience’ by the ruling Barisan Nasional regime can expect to be prioritized under a Pakatan Rakyat rule.

KUCHING: Should the opposition, Pakatan Rakyat, be elected to power, the Dayak community in Sarawak can expect to see RM1 billion set aside to specifically look into their needs.

From this amount, some RM100 million will be channelled towards the Dayak Welfare Fund.

The RM100 million fund will look to providing medical aid and care for the poor and infirm Dayaks, help facilitate the supply of water tanks, pumps and pipes to longhouses and to repair and rebuild dilapidated houses or those destroyed by fire and other natural disasters.

Announcing this today, Pakatan’s shadow finance minister Chong Chien Jen said the Dayak Welfare Fund will be parked at the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation.

“The fund aims to reduce and mitigate some of the problems faced by the Dayaks.

“We must not shut our eyes to the plight of the Dayaks like what the BN (Barisan Nasional) ministers have done.

“The Dayaks have all along been marginalised and left out from the main stream of development in our country.

“As such, Pakatan must take action to help the Dayaks in terms of their education, and cultural and social levels,” he said.

Educating Dayaks

Chong, who is also DAP-Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said that of Pakatan’s RM4.285 billion alternative state budget, RM20 million will be channelled to the Tourism and Heritage Ministry to preserve the Dayak cultural heritage and traditions.

This sum will include the building of a Dayak cultural centre, and the collection and publication of oral cultural traditions and history.

He said it would also include development grants for academic research into Dayak cultural practices, traditions and incentives for the publication of Dayak literature.

‘We have also allocated RM80 million to the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management to carry out perimeter survey and to issue land titles to these landowners.

“We will also provide legal assistance to landowners in legal disputes with plantation groups and other companies which may also want to stake claims to this land,” he said.

Chong said that an additional allocation of RM250 million will be allocated to the Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry to provide financial and technical support to the Dayak community for crop planting activities on native customary right (NCR) land.

He also proposed setting aside RM80 million to establish a SADA Entrepreneur Development Unit under the Chief Minister’s Department.

The unit aims to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of the Dayaks in the marketing and sales of agriculture produce and retail goods.

The unit will also set up a RM10 million SADA Education Fund to uplift the education level of Dayak students and to ensure Dayaks are competent in various professional and technical fields.

Chong said that a sum of RM30 million has been proposed to send Dayak students overseas and another RM10 million for tuition for both primary and secondary school Dayak students.

Deprived of convenience

Mr Chong

Asked to elaborate on these funds, Chong said that many within the Dayak community, especially those living in the longhouses, are deprived of conveniences which many others, especially those in the urban areas, take for granted.

“For example, Dayaks almost never have medical insurance and as such, are not able to pay for specialist treatment when struck down by certain illnesses.

“For example in 2008, a pair of twin sisters who were diagnosed with degenerative kidney disease was sent from Miri to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment.

“But a lack of funds delayed their trip, and as a result, one of the twins passed away,” Chong said.

“Also, Dayak homes and other properties such as boats are usually not covered by insurance.

“Dayak longhouses are particularly vulnerable to fire since wood stoves are still commonly used in many longhouses for cooking.

“These homes are also particularly vulnerable during floods and other natural disasters.

“The famous logjam affecting the Rajang River in October 2010 had destroyed many jetties and longboats.

“Uncontrolled and under-supervised logging activities pollute the rivers and drinking waters of the Dayaks.

“Many Dayaks still rely on wells and on rain water because of the gaps in the coverage of piped water,” Chong said.

Empowering Dayaks

Commenting on the same issue, Dayak Consultative Council chairman Dr John Brian Anthony said the budget placed special focus on culture, education and agriculture which was important to the community’s growth and success.

“The fund will help Dayak students to be trained overseas to acquire skills and experience, because they will one day become not only the leaders of the community, but also of the state and country.

“Another interesting thing in the budget is the strengthening of the Dayak culture. You see culture is a strong unifying factor.

“If we improve our cultural development, then we Dayaks will be able to keep our identity as a race and that will become a good product for tourism.

“This will also mean other people could understand and learn the Dayak culture,” he said.

He also said that the budget acknowledged the importance of modernising and enhancing the community’s skills in agricultural activities.

“The Dayaks have assets such as land which has not been fully utilised by the current government.

The government has been talking about modernisation of agriculture, and I do not see any modernisation taking place.

“Once Pakatan takes over the government, it will give titles to the landowners and will help them to develop their land. This will further enhance the Dayak economy,” he said.

Source : FMT

  1. November 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Laughing like Voldemort with the Sultan of Brunei. I regret nothing.

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