In Sarawak’s long houses the government had taken over the long house residents to choose the headman-and the `chosen’ one has no more right to choose who they support politically. If they are seen to veer from giving full support to ruling parties, or give equal chance to both sides to campaign, the headman’s days start counting! This tragedy is so blatant: the ruling party use government fund to support the headman who are by all intent and purposes, their political/party appointees. The report below is one of the many cases happening. Many headmen are replaced after the last state elections where they are accused of siding with the other side. Clearly they have no choice on who they want to support!
Keep calm over headman dispute, villagers told
Posted on October 22, 2011, Saturday
UPPER BARAM: Residents of Long Semiyang in Upper Baram should keep calm after their headman Mathew Uchat Kajan was dismissed and replaced by John Jau Wan without their consent.
Kenyah community leader Pemanca Joseph Ngau Lain told the people this at a meet-the-people session cum launch of the Lio Mato-Lg Semiyang Rela Platoon Unit at the verandah of Mathew’s house recently.
The function was declared open by Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, who is also Baram MP, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan and Political Secretary to the Chief Minister Robert Laing Anyie. It was attended by most nearby longhouse chiefs.
Joseph Ngau said Mathew was the lawful headman as he came from a Maren family, according to Orang Ulu custom.
“As the leader of the Kenyah community, I had not been informed via government termination letter that Mathew was no longer headman.
”I will meet Baram District Officer and Miri Division Resident to solve this problem amicably,” Joseph Ngau assured when met at Miri International Airport on his way to Kuala Lumpur recently.
Joseph Ngau claimed that John Jau was appointed headman of Lg Semiyang without their knowledge or consent.
Mathew and his brother Danny Lawai, who were at Miri Airport, challenged John Jau for accusing them of supporting the opposition party in the last state election.
“If we are with the opposition, I don’t think government leaders, government officers and Dato Jacob would visit Long Semiyang. Much earlier Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang had also stayed with and held a function at Ruai Mathew Uchat,
“I was not notifed of my dismissal as headman,” Mathew told The Borneo Post at Miri International Airport.
The two brothers were among a group of community leaders who visited Kuala Lumpur with the Barisan Nasional leaders recently.
Penghulu Jalong Tanyit, who is in charge of the longhouse, advised the people of Long Semiyang to hold their peace and cooperate.
“Pemanca Joseph Ngau and I will meet Baram District Officer soon to clear the misunderstanding,” assured Jalong Tanyit, who believed the Semiyang Longhouse episode was not caused by its residents but masterminded by others outside the longhouse.