Gawai Dayak was first officially recognised and celebrated in Sarawak on 1 June 1965 . It has since been the symbol of the much needed unity, hope and aspiration of the ethnic Dayak people, the majority ethnic group in Sarawak today .
Traditionally after a bountiful harvest, Gawai is a thanksgiving day in all the long houses across the length and breath of Sarawak, and for the same reason celebrated by the ethnic Kadazan-Dusun and other related ethnic groups in Sabah .
But things have changed in the last 50 years, a giant step for these loyal and brave people.
Today they are found in many fields of human endeavours. There are successful judges, doctors, nurses, lawyers, journalists, accountants. Senior civil servants, police and armed forces, immigration and fire & rescue officers and diplomats to name a few.
Most businesses and industries in Sarawak are staffed by ethnic Dayak .
Many have gone into politics as well.
I am exceedingly proud of their achievements and contributions to the progress and prosperity of the country.
At this most trying time with the war on the invisible and crafty Covid19 still not really over yet ,but some global community has decided “to live with the virus “after most peoples have been fully vaccinated, for mainly economic reasons , with the exception of a number of tumultuous 3rd world countries with vaccines and financial problems .
Global economy is almost crippled beyond description. It affects almost everything on earth. Employment, family, food on the table, mental health , the ugly white collar crime , rising crime rate .
While we are reopening, all , I am sure , will still continue to be careful and vigilant.
As if this is not enough, there are wars, conflicts and unrest in some parts of the world . The peoples suffer untold miseries and sufferings, especially the poor, the sick and the underprivileged.
All countries should ideally consider devoting their funds , time and energy to make life safer, happier and more bearable for everyone in this rather difficult , troubled and tumultuous world,
instead of on lethal weapons especially nuclear weapons with capacity to destroy the human kind .
There will be universal peace and happiness when all nations commit to total disarmament. The trillions of dollars spent could be used to alleviate global poverty and to raise standards of living across the world. That will be the day to celebrate , THE
UNIVERSAL DAY OF PEACE.
I am cautiously optimistic.
Global inflation and threatening famine caused by geopolitical tensions should be addressed immediately.
The much feared Climate Change and its ill effects on humankind , flora and fauna and the Environment is a monumental issue .
We see such ill-effects already even within our own country as torrential rains and serious floods seem to be occurring with greater frequency. Serious weather disturbances greatly disrupting and endangering lives such as ferocious forest fires because of severe dry conditions are experienced now even by countries such as the United States , Canada and Australia.
In our neighbouring countries such as the Philippines, typhoons seem to be growing in intensity with each passing year.
While all these man-made and natural disasters affect almost all parts of the world, most unfortunately, the less well-to-do are always the most greatly affected. It is expected that the effects of the pandemic and the geopolitical war will push tens of millions of people world-wide back into poverty.
I bring such tidings of human despair up on what is supposed to be a joyous celebration to create awareness of how relatively blessed we are to be shielded from many of these instances of sufferings in other parts of the world. At the same time, we should not take these matters lightly as they will negatively affect us, too.
As food and oil prices go up, inflation will go up and, inevitably, we will all be affected one way or another, even when the governments do their best to cushion the people from more severe effects.
It is also important for us to know that even on matters as grave as climate change and global warming, they are the results of our cumulative individual actions and behaviour. We persist in favouring of energy sources such as coal and fossil fuels even when we know carbon emissions from burning them are the causes for global warming temperatures rising to nearly unsustainable levels .
Only when we as individuals act to be responsible advocates and consumers of clean and renewable energy will the government feel the pressure to act more firmly to promote its use.
We must turn to sustainable renewable energy by setting up off shore wind turbines which will power millions of homes. These wind turbines will protect our much abused environment and its flora and fauna. Solar energy is another Renewable Energy, an option to be seriously considered.
The pandemic which we are still grappling with shows that nature will fight back if we push against it to unsustainable levels. We push back nature in hopes of producing greater wealth for us all but the pandemic has already set back economic growth as the government takes on more debt in order to fight against the ravages brought about by the COVID-19 virus. This is most ironic.
It is often said that health is wealth. The pandemic shows us how true this is. In this regard, I would like once again to congratulate the Federal Minister of Health, for his ministry’s decision to have automated external defibrillators (AED) installed in selected public buildings.
I have advocated this for some years because of my firm belief that AEDs are life-savers in the critical minutes when people experience heart attacks, a disease which is sadly becoming more prevalent due to unhealthy lifestyles. AEDs readily available must go hand-in-hand with the most important cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) , which I have been campaigning for many years to be taught in schools and institutions of higher learning.
As we celebrate another Gawai festival, let us be reminded again to celebrate in moderation. Both humans and Planet Earth must stay healthy for their own sake and that of future generations.
God bless our people
God bless our country
Selamat Ari Gawai, Gayu Guru, Gerai Nyamai! Selamat Harvest Festival (Sabah)
Ang Lai Soon