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Monday, August 29, 2011

‘Don’t make the same mistake as PKR’

DAP is warned not to use Dayaks for merely 'window-dressing'.

KUCHING: The DAP leadership both at state and federal levels cannot afford to trivialize the Dayak community’s involvement if they are aiming for success in the coming general election.

“They should not make the same mistake that PKR did. Dayaks must be given important roles,” said Simangang DAP branch chairman Leon Jimat Donald.

Warning DAP leadership not to view Dayaks as merely ‘making-up the numbers’ in Sarawak, Donald said the party should not emulate its arch rival Sarawak United People’s Party’s (SUPP) ‘partnership’ model.

He claimed Dayaks members and reps in SUPP were merely seen as ‘window dressings’.

It is a common knowledge here that Dayaks have played second and sometimes third fiddle to the Chinese in the SUPP, which is a Barisan Nasional ally.

In the recent April state election, SUPP lost 13 of 19 seats it contested .

Whilst only two of its 15 Chinese assemblymen managed to retain their seats, all four Dayak representatives got voted-in. Today SUPP is ‘surviving’ entirely on its Dayak representatives.

Donald said DAP must convince Dayaks that they are important to the party.

“In order to remove the perception of Chinese chauvinism, the Dayaks have to play or be perceived to play important roles in the party in order to avoid the accusations of window dressing.

“DAP should provide proper representation for the Dayaks in the national DAP’s central executive committee by appointment.

“As we have seen during the last PKR election, there was nobody elected to the national PKR.

“With next to no Dayak branches around to elect any Dayak representatives to the national DAP CEC, no one can hope to be elected as the majority of party members will continue to be from the peninsula,” he said.

Dayak reps in Pakatan government

Donald suggested that DAP also considered appointing a few Dayak members to be part of the respective Pakatan Rakyat state governments.

He suggested that qualified Dayaks be appointed as political secretaries and be made responsible for the Dayaks working in the peninsula.

It would also show DAP’s sincerity in accommodating the Dayak community as a whole.

“There are Dayaks numbering in the thousands, working in states such as Selangor, Penang, Johor and the Klang Valley.

“Such a gesture will be seen and perceived as a good start in the Dayak political relationship with DAP,” he added.

Donald also addressed the new economic policy and how important it is to educate Dayaks on its shortcomings.

“We should start our political education early, such as educating the Dayaks about the shortcomings of the NEP, and providing a better solution to address their problems.

“New native customary right (NCR) land development concepts should be introduced to inculcate and inform the Dayaks.

“Dayaks must be told that we (opposition) have a better plan for development when we take over the government.

“We must tell them that we will create and support smallholders amongst NCR land owners by providing seeds, fertilizer, logistical aid and funding to help them start up, ” he said.

Aiding rural Dayak

He urged DAP to begin planning ahead on what other better benefits such as education and employment that will be introduced once Pakatan was in power.

“Having said that, logistical support should be provided by the state governments such as Penang and Selangor on what successful plans they have implemented in order to better convince the Dayaks to join the party,” he said.

He also urged the DAP leadership to come up with concise and better rural development programs to aid the rural Dayaks.

“The current programs introduced by BN are suffering from implementation problems and funding.

“The funding provided for rural development currently is still very miniscule taking into consideration the size of Sarawak.

“There must be equal opportunity in business and education,” he said.

Donald added that although DAP practiced meritocracy, there was an urgent need to cater to the needs of the poor Dayaks in the rural areas so that they can enjoy a better standard of living that is comparable to the other urban folk.

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