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Dayak YBs want to be called Dayak
By Irene C and Margaret Ringgit
KUCHING: Dayak elected representatives met at the Dewan Undangan Negeri yesterday were not supportive of the idea of dropping the term ‘Dayak’.
Ministers, assistant ministers and members of the august house seemed taken aback by the suggestion. Some of them refused to comment, while others replied negatively.
Those who agreed to be interviewed felt that it is alright to keep the term ‘Dayak’ to refer to the ethnic community in the state.
They disagreed with the suggestion that the term could connote that the community was uncivilised, uncouth and “low class”.
“To me, being called Dayak is not an issue, the most important think is that we know our own identity and we want to be united,” said Kemena assemblyman Dr Stephen Rundi, who is also the state BN secretary general.
He said he felt the issue had been blown out of proportion.
“The term ‘Dayak’ has been used by the colonial government to refer to ethnicity. On the other hand, we want to keep our tradition to be called Dayak as a form of unity,” he explained.
Dr Rundi, who is Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) secretary general, said he did not see the point of changing the term if it affected the unity and dignity of the Dayak people as a whole.
Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Peter Nansian said: “As Dayak, I am proud to be a Dayak and I would like to be called a Dayak.”
He said there was nothing to be ashamed of being a Dayak, arguing that it is part of the community’s identity.
“Derogatory is what you make it to be, not what you are,” said the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) senior vice-president.
Assistant Minister of Land Development Francis Harden said the term ‘Dayak’ covers the various ethnic groups in Sarawak and that he was “fine” with it.
“To me, I am alright with the term … I don’t think by using that term, the Dayak community is outdated. We are progressing well,” he said.
Assistant Minister of Water Supply Sylvester Entri said there should be no problem using the term ‘Dayak’ as it referred to all non-Muslim ethnic groups in the state.
“For documentation purposes, should be no problem. Justifying the term … we can put Kayan or Kenyah, be specific,” he explained.
Assistant Minister of Rural Development Datuk Ambrose Blikau said the suggestion to drop the term ‘Dayak’ should be considered seriously as it reflected the community’s identity.
“The word ‘Dayak’ has been used for generations since the Brooke era, using the word does not mean that the community is uncivilised, uncouth and ‘low class’,” he argued.
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I am proud being born as a Dayak in the Borneo Island.