MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

‘Gotong-royong for the good of the country’

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COMMENT One of the traditions of the natives of Sarawak is the ‘gotong-royong’, which is the customary concept of working together and helping one another to finish their farming activities in the village. The Lun Bawangs call this ‘ngumum’. The ‘ngumum’ concept of working together is practised so that that every family unit/bilek in the village is able to complete their respective farming activities in time and none is burdened to finish the work on their own.
This concept also inculcates the spirit of working together and supporting one another when in need so that everyone is happy, and can expect a good harvest at the end of the farming period. Thanks to ‘ngumum’, no one has to beg for food and no one is in need, and the villagers look forward together to celebrating a good harvest or ‘bergawai’ (celebration).
As we approach this Gawai season, I cannot help but to consider the juxtaposition of the developments in the country with this concept of gotong-royong. Foremost is the scandalous plundering of this country’s wealth by the ruling elite in the 1MDB saga, with no apparent consequence.
Then there is the huge inequality in income and unequal distribution of wealth in the country, an example being the recent ostentatious display of wealth in the form of the gift of the RM1.5 million Bentley from the governor’s wife to him. The recent exposure of the inequality in the civil service in Sarawak that is still being debated in the social media is also the cause of much unhappiness and discontentment among Sarawakians.

All the above are inconsistent with the spirit of ‘ngumum’. Whereas ‘ngumum’ is about looking out for each other and helping each other, what is happening in this country reveals that those in positions of authority practise looking out for themselves first, while the welfare of the rest is secondary.
This Gawai, in the midst of these events, there appears to be no good reason for us to celebrate in Sarawak; yet I want to be hopeful. In the concept of ‘ngumum’ it is the people’s willingness and ability to work together that makes the difference and leads to the success of the villagers. So it is in the country, where the power to bring about a change in the government is in the people’s will and desire.
The result of the recent Sarawak elections gives us much food for thought. Are we going to allow the injustices and selfishness of the present regime to continue? Or are we willing to rise up together in the spirit of ‘ngumum’ in the GE14 to bring about a change? Sarawak is rich and vast, and her wealth should be harvested and enjoyed by all Sarawakians on a more equal footing. It is up to the people to come together to make this happen.
I wish all my Dayak friends a Happy and Joyous Gawai celebration.
“Gayu-guru, Gerai nyamai."

BARU BIAN is the state assemblyperson for Ba'kelalan and Sarawak PKR chief.-Mkini 

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