Dayaks upset over being continuously overlooked

By Pushparani Thilaganathan (Free Malaysia-Today)
SIBU: Cabbie Randi was angry. “RM18 million for Chinese schools? They don’t need it, they are rich and they don’t care,” he spewed, adding that the Iban loyalty had never been valued as much.
“We have 110 longhouses, most don’t have piped water or electricity. Giving them RM18 million would guarantee a lifetime of loyalty,“ said Randi in reference to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s announcement on Wednesday of financial aid for 67 schools in the Sibu parliamentary constituency.
They included RM10 million for 60 national-type Chinese schools, RM5 million for five private Chinese secondary schools, RM2 million for Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sacred Heart and RM1 million for Sekolah Kebangsaan St Mary.
An Iban from Kanowit, Randi is both amazed and angry at Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat’s obsession with gaining Chinese votes.
“I cannot understand this obsession. Even from (late) Robert Lau’s days, he only won because of the Malay and Iban support.
“SUPP (Sarawak United People’s Party) and DAP knows this. They have admitted this,” said Randi, a father of four and a former farmer.
The Chinese make up 66.7 percent of Sibu’s 54,695 voting population. The Malay/Melanaus, Iban, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus make up the rest.
While the Dayaks (collective word for Ibans, Bidayuhs ands Orang Ulus) have been touted as kingmakers, their worth in the eyes of the political leaders pale in comparison to the Chinese here.
“If we are the deciders than all SUPP and DAP need to do is look after us well.. Both they don’t. Elections come and go but we don’t exist,” added Randi.
“Some Ibans are very, very poor compared to the Chinese, yet they don’t see us,“ he said adding that he did not expect Najib’s visit to the RH Sebastian Onggoh’s longhouse in Rejang valley yesterday to bring any immediate change.
“He gave the schools RM18 million… but pledged development under the 10th Malaysia Plan for the longhouses which currently have no proper roads, water or electricity,” he added.
This sentiment is shared by almost most Dayaks whom FMT spoke to yesterday.

A close race predicted

Najib was recently on a two day visit to Sibu with the hope of swinging Chinese votes. The Sibu by-election on May 16 remains unpredictable at this point.
The by-election sees a three-cornered fight between BN’s Robert Lau Hui Yew, DAP’s Wong Ho Leng and independent Narawi Haron, a retired serviceman.
A quick poll of opinions among cabbies and traders along Jalan Lanang here last night showed a 50:50 possibility of a win for either party.
A teacher, who was among about 100 people at a DAP ceramah last night went so far as to say that it could be anything between 1,500-2,000 votes margin going either way.
“It’s not much at a loss. If DAP losses with this kind of a margin, it is something to celebrate,” he said.