The Dayak Bidayuhs – numbering more than 200,000 in Sarawak – once again feel slighted when none of the three members of parliament representing their community was included in the recently formed cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
The three MPs – Richard Riot (Serian MP from the Sarawak United People’s Party), James Dawos Mamit (Mambong, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra) and Dr Tiki Lafe (Mas Gading, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party) – have received various reactions from their constituents as a result of them being overlooked by Najib.
Some called for them to resign their seats in order to show their displeasure against the Najib government, while others have called on them to join PKR.
The three MPs admitted receiving so many SMSes from their supporters and members of the Bidayuh community.
“I know that the prime minister has the prerogative to appoint members of his cabinet, but by not appointing one from the Bidayuh community, he has made his 1Malaysia concept a mere rhetoric,” said Dawos when asked by journalists.
“The prime minister has derailed the concept of promoting one Malaysia where all races will work together. And whether the concept is mere rhetoric or not, I don’t know. But it does look it now,” he added.
Tiki when contacted also expressed disappointment and said he was now on the ground to seek feedback from his constituents on the course of action to be taken.
This is the second time that the Bidayuh community has been sidelined from the cabinet.
After the March 2008 general election, the community was excluded from the cabinet of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Tiki was a member of the Abdullah government before the election and was dropped last year when Abdullah formed his new cabinet.
His place was taken over by another SPDP leader and a member of the Orang Ulu community Jacob Dungau Sagan.
Last year there were rumours that Riot and Tiki were on the verge of joining the opposition.
Riot and his 1,000 supporters burnt their membership cards with Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) but both Riot and Tiki withdrew their threats after BN leaders met them.
‘Bidayuhs are penumpang’
In a related development former Mas Gading member of parliament and Star president Dr Patau Rubis urged the Bidayuh community to stop complaining and give Najib a chance to settle down.
“All the Bidayuhs are penumpang (passengers) of other people’s boats and we should not complain. We do not have a voice,” he said, adding that the Bidayuhs were now further divided after joining PKR.
Another Bidayuh leader Patrick Anek Uren, also a former MP for Mas Gading, called on Tiki to resign immediately as an MP as he had failed to represent the community in the federal government.
“As an MP you are elected by the people and to serve them as well as to deliver all things that benefit the people; it is not a privilege for you to seek employment for yourself.
“I think Tiki has failed us all and I demand his resignation immediately,” said Anek who was noted for his oratory and courage for fighting for the Bidayuhs’ interests.
Echoing Anek’s comments, a PKR Bidayuh chief coordinator Granda Aing said the three MPs should become independents or join PKR.
Otherwise, he said, their worth was only RM4 million, referring to the money given by Najib to the Bidayuh community a couple of months ago.
Former president of the deregistered Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) Daniel Tajem said that the Bidayuhs should not complain as they were always very close to the BN government.
“Accept whatever is given to the community,” he said.