“Kitai mayoh, kitai patut jadi pengari”, is the most common statement I heard even when I was still in the Medical Services traveling in the Iban areas. The perception is further reinforced by selfish and myopic Iban leaders who after knowing its falsehood politically uses Dayakism in non Iban areas while fanning Ibanism amongst the Iban. To justify their ends, they always use UMNO, MCA and MIC as their model for future success. The latest was an attempt by some to register Malaysian Dayak Congress or MDC. Fortunately, its protem President abandoned it last weekend and had joined PKR instead.
In 1996, I was even advised to form a Bidayuh Party by one Malay Leader. I just looked at him and reminded him that it had been done first by the late Dato William Nais, BISAMAH and then Nelson Kundai, UMAT. Yet even DBNA leaders, who are now in various political parties in BN, do not bother to support any of them. Yet as lately as April this year, a Bidayuh pensioner still harbors the thought and dream of a Bidayuh party- only then he will go down to vote. No doubt now, that up to thirty or more percent of Bidayuh voters may vote only if there is a Bidayuh party. If the promoters really fan the sentiments of both racialism and combined it with religion, it may even win all the Bidayuh seats. But then so what, can all the Bidayuh problems be resolved by the Bidayuh politicians alone without the help of the Malay Administrators. Or at the end of the day those politicians will like all the past Dayak leaders who used race and religion to get elected and then “meowed” their way into BN politics when the going got tough.
RACIALLY based politics has brought Malaysia to what it is to-day. Malay politicians through UMNO insisted on “KETUANAN MELAYU” to their MCA and MIC counterparts, but later became subservient to MONEY POLITICS to allow LINGAMISM, etc to prosper. NEP allows privileged Malays to prosper through “ALI BABAISM” making their Chinese or Indian proxies becoming BUMIPUTRA FIRST CLASS mostly decorated with “TAN SRI” or “Datuk”. Racialism benefits those in the corridors of power. When the Dayaks use racialism they will be branded as racialists by those who gained power through the same lines.
Thus whatever approach Dayak politicians have used or may use, in the past, now, or in the future, the Dayaks will remain classified as “OTHERS”. For as long as racialism are used as the political divide, the DAYAKS will be the victim. While the fact is that there are more DAYAKS than the other races in Sarawak, it is not true in the Malaysian context where they are more Indians than the Dayaks. Until the Dayaks are accepted as the natives in Malaysia and accepted as BANGSA MALAYSIA the Dayaks will remain as the minority race in Malaysia and will be left behind except for the few, corporate leader like Idris Jala or politicians like Jabu… and will get fewer as racial politics become stronger.
It is therefore important for all aspiring Dayak politicians to learn well from the Melanaus who despite being the fifth smallest indigenous groups in Sarawak have been able to control Sarawak politics since the sixties when they managed to topple NINGKAN through another IBAN leader as the temporary stop gap measure before jumping from one party to another in order to ease one’s frustrations.
It is also important for all aspiring Dayak politicians to be self sufficient before getting involved into active politics unless you are prepared to be enslaved by the need of it. Only then Dayak demise can be slowed or stopped.