Who are the natives?

KUCHING: By replacing the word “Dayak” in the Interpretation Ordinance 2004, “Sea Dayak” became Iban and “Land Dayak” became Bidayuh.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) secretary general Julius Enchana said when the amendment was made in 2004, all the elected Dayak representatives then should have realised the implications.

Young Iban girls ready to welcome visitors for Gawai Dayak.

He said Article 161A(6)(a) and 7 of the Federal Constitution, the word “native” means a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the state or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races.

He said in Clause (6) the races defined as “native” to Sarawak are the Bukitan, Bisayah, Dusun, Sea Dayak, Land Dayak, Kadayan, Kelabit, Kayan, Kenyah (including Sabup and Sipeng), Kajang (including Sekapan, Kejaman, Lahanan, Penan, Tanjong and Kanowit), Lugat, Malay, Melanao, Murut, Penan, Sian, Tagal, Tabun and Ukit.

Therefore, it is obvious that the Iban, Lun Bawang and Bidayuh are new terminologies and are not treated as “native”.

Julius said he believed that the Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen is well aware of these legal interpretations.

Orang Ulu lasses in traditional attire as they await visitors at one of the local festivals.

Thus, the Iban, Lun Bawang and Bidayuh will lose their rights specified under Article 153 of the Federal constitution, which underscores the importance of the term Dayak and the force of law, he said.

Pointing out that the ordinance is a written law, he hoped that the state Sports Assistant Minister Datuk Snowdan Lawan could clarify its connection to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) versus the Federal Constitution versus the State Ordinance.

He explained that if the amendment to the Interpretation of Ordinance 2004 were to apply, the Iban, Lun Bawang and Bidayuh would surely lose their rights over their native customary rights land and other privileges meant for the natives.

“The Dayak Dilemma – Who Am I?” he concluded.

Bidayuh maidens at Kampung Benuk, Jalan Puncak Borneo cross a bamboo bridge. Photo: Bernama