Friday, 25 November 2011

Dont ‘sell’ your soul, Jabu

KUCHING:  Deputy Chief Minister and long time Betong assemblyman Alfred Jabu Numpang is a true-blue Dayak who has served in the Barisan Nasional for the last 37 years but is said to have done little to help the poor in his community.

Earlier this year, FMT reported that Layar in the Betong constituency was among the most neglected sites in Sarawak, with the majority of the longhouses without water, electricity and roads.

Jabu’s responses to the community’s pleas and actions over the years have deeply disappointed the Dayaks and, to some extent, himself.

According to Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), Jabu is “helpless” and this was evident in his outburst during his winding-up debate in the State Legislative Assembly recently.

SDNU, which has more than 100,000 members, is the biggest Dayak’s non-governmental organisation in the country.

Citing some evidence of Jabu’s helplessness, SDNU deputy president John Brian Anthony said: “Jabu badly wanted to be recognised as the man who led Dayaks out of poverty.

“Just a few days ago, he even attacked DAP as being the stumbling block to Dayaks’ progress in Kanowit.
“But the landowners have come out to rebut Jabu saying that after 15 years, they have not received any dividends.

“They even stated they are taking legal action against the joint-venture (with the oil companies) and will pull out of it,” said Brian, who is also the chairman of Dayak Consultative Council, a think-tank that is advising DAP on how to tackle Dayaks’ problems.

“It is not good to cite a specific Dayak leader’s name and accuse him of the main reason why the Dayaks do not progress as they should.

“(But) what choice is left there when most Dayaks are holding on to same perception,” added Brian.

Did BN sabotage Dayak growth?

Expanding on his view, Brian questioned why agricultural training centres (ATC) which were set up to train Dayak youths throughout the state were closed for the last 10 years.

“They (government) gave no reason for the closure.

“Within the same period, the state BN government went on rampage to grab and rob Dayaks of their native customary rights (NCR) land.

“It almost seemed that the BN government closed the ATCs on purpose so that the Dayaks slow down their progress in commercial agriculture,” he said, adding that during the same period seedlings, farm chemicals and fertilizer subsidies were also cut.

Brian recalled that there was no planting of new rubber trees and also no padi planting schemes.

“There was never any real attempt… they (government) never tried to improve the Dayaks,” alleged Brian, pointing out that it was Jabu who was the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture.

When Penan girls and women were raped and cried for help, Brian said that Jabu who was the minister responsible for the welfare of the Penan did not come out to help.

Instead Jabu insulted the community by saying that it was the Penan’s culture of having early and uncontrolled sex, he said.
“All these are written not as a campaign to hate Jabu, because that is the last thing we should do to a Dayak leader.

“This is feedback because he still can help himself and the Dayak community as a whole,” said Brian.

‘Cannot stay in job forever’

These issues aside, Brian admitted that Jabu has done good things for Betong.

“But as Deputy Chief Minister, is it not his duty to help develop Sarawak?

“Or is Jabu so humble and simplistic in his thinking that he cannot producod ideas for development and engage in bad practice by banishing those who opposed him?” asked Brian.

 He said that it was common knowledge that Jabu refused to listen to the ideas of others as those were not his ideas.

“Jabu feels that if those are not his ideas, then such ideas are bad,” Brian said.

But Dayaks looked at Jabu’s projects such as the planting of ‘Kepayang’ trees, fish rearing of ‘terubok’ and ‘empurau’, canning of rambutan and planting of wild vegetables “as jokes only”, he added.

Brian advised Jabu not to ‘sell’ his soul in order to gain a good life at the expense of his own people.

“We cannot stay in the job forever. When we step down and without a powerful office behind us the Dayaks will spit into our face for all the injustices that we have inflicted on them,” he added.

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