Unhappy BN sacks longhouse chiefs
The side-effects of the April 16 state polls which saw opposition make historic inroads in Sarawak are being felt in longhouses now.
The state polls saw the opposition win an unprecedented 15 seats lending credence to the widespread belief that the ruling regime is losing its support base.
The state BN government has also been accused of appointing its own longhouse chiefs despite the communities having their own elected tuai rumah.
State PKR vice chairman See Chee How said as a result of “two” chiefs, longhouses were breaking up, creating disunity among the inhabitants.
“BN is disregarding the tuai rumah elected by the people, who are knowledgeable about the adat and customs.
“Often the ones appointed by BN do not know the Iban adat and customs.
“By appointing their own tuai rumah and ignoring the ones elected by the people, the BN government is breaking up the longhouses and causing disunity.
“These BN longhouse chiefs are not only being used to prop up the image of the BN politicians and state assemblymen, but are also used as tools to threaten the longhouse people into supporting the BN candidates during election times,” See said.
He claimed he knew a number of longhouses which were split because they have two headmen.
No reason for termination
See, who is Batu Lintang assemblyman, was commenting on the sacking of six tuai rumah from Machan in Kanowit.
The six headmen have not received their monthly allowance of RM450 since August 2011.
Up till now, no reason has been given for the termination of their appointments.
The six’s uncertain status is believed to be linked to the April state election in which a majority of voters from the six longhouses in Ukong, Jagoi and Lipus voted for the PKR candidate George Chen.
Although the BN candidate Gramong Juna, who comes from Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), defeated Chen with a majority of 1,629 votes, he was said to be furious with the headmen for failing to convince their respective “anembiaks” (followers) to vote for him.
He secured 3,683 votes against 2,054 obtained by Chen.
The constituency has 9,944 voters, of which nearly 8,000 are Iban voters.
Government must explain dismissals
Another longhouse chief, Sandah Anak Tabau, has also received an official letter from the director of human resources unit in the Chief Minister’s Office, informing him that his service as a longhouse headman has been terminated.
No reason was for the dismissal.
See said that he believed that Sandah’s dismissal was connected with a suit involving a native customary rights (NCR) land case in which he was one of the plaintiffs and a witness.
The native landowners won the case against the government.
See, who is a lawyer, said that all the dismissed longhouse chiefs have been advised to write to the state secretary seeking reasons for their sacking.
“We need to know the reasons. If the government fails to give reasons, then we will file a judicial review with the court,” he said.
On Sandah’s dismissal, See said that he is a real “hero” who dares to stand up and speak up against injustice.
“What is the use of a leader if he is only listening to some politicians who are not from the village and a tuai rumah who does not command the respect of his ‘anembiaks’?
“Sandah is the type of leader the ‘anembiaks’ respect and love.
“He is the tuai rumah who was elected by the people of the longhouse and not appointed by the state assemblyman of the constituency.
“What is the point of having an official tuai rumah if he does not represent the people other than to disunite and threaten the people?” See asked.
Meanwhile, in Simunjan, 10 other tuai rumah have been dismissed effective from August, an officer from the district office confirmed.
One tuai rumah claimed that their dismissal was said to have been recommended by the Simunjan state assemblyman, Naroden Majais, who s is an assistant minister in the Chief Minister’ Office.
They claimed they were dismissed as they are reportedly too close to the Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri and have strongly recommended her for a second term as MP for the constituency.
They said that Nancy has been working very hard as an MP and treats everyone equally.
“She has no business interests in Simunjan and does not take away NCR land from the people,” they said.