The left over role of the once powerful long house chiefs, village head and community heads is to relay government messages to the community and to relay residents’ grievances to the government, in this order. Their role seems to be the political extension of the ruling parties more than even the party members of the ruling coalition! They are pressured by the Rm800.00/month allowance to take orders and execute plans by the ruling parties. Put it another way they are party workers paid for by the government/public fund!
Are community leaders redundant?
Posted on August 23, 2011, Tuesday
KUCHING: An officer from Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (Mais) believes that the role of community leaders has now become obsolete as most of their tasks have been taken over by elected representatives.
Requesting anonymity, he said they are left with safeguarding their cultures and traditions because almost all administrative and mitigation works had been taken away from them.
He said community leaders now only officiate at cultural events such as traditional weddings, funerals and miring ceremonies.
Regarding their appointment, he said they were now under the purview of the Chief Minister’s Department unlike before when they inherited the post through their family hierarchy.
“All appointments of community leaders are now under the sole power of the department,” he added.
However, he believed that they were still relevant as an extension of the government’s administrative mechanism and the bridge between the government and the people.
Penghulu John Tambi Awat, an Iban community leader from Kampung Tabuan Dayak, when interviewed, pointed out that community leaders were not necessarily elected to their positions and usually had no legal power.
Agreeing that their jurisdiction had been curtailed somewhat, he said they were now seen as a source of reference by the media and police to gauge the general feeling of their community.
“We are also acting as a point of liaison between the community and the authority,” he said.
To him, community leaders should be part of the government’s machinery to listen to the people’s needs and grievances.
“Grievances should be voiced through a proper channel (community leaders) instead of through other avenues that are ineffective,” he pointed out.
For this, he said community leaders should always be well informed and knowledgeable of current developments and issues affecting their community to enable them relay correct information to their people and provide accurate feedback to the government.
Community leaders can be contacted through Kuching District Office or the Chief Minister’s Department from 7.30am to 8.30am.