By John Isaac
SEVEN Dayak-based non-governmental organisations (NGO) have called for the federal government to review the Malaysia Agreement 1063 (MA63) and the setting up of special grants for native communities in Sarawak and Sabah, without leaving behind other races.
A joint press statement issued yesterday pointed out that the federal government has disbursed special grants to the Orang Asli as well as the Indian and Chinese communities, but not to the Dayaks in Sarawak or Kadazan-Dusun-Murut-Rungus (KDMR) in Sabah.
“From the total population in the country, about two million are made up of the Dayak community in Sarawak and KDMR in Sabah. We understand there is no special grant from the federal government to the Dayak in Sarawak. Therefore we want to get the attention of the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to set up funding especially for the Dayak in Sarawak,” the statement read as reported by Borneo Post.
The statement was jointly issued by Dayak Think Tank Association Sarawak, Persatuan Balang Balai Nyabong, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association Miri branch, Persatuan Terabai Menua Sarawak, Persatuan Jaringan Tanah Hak Adat Bangsa Asal Sarawak, Dayak National Congress, and Sarawak Iban Association.
“We hope that in Budget 2022 to be tabled this year, the federal government will make early preparation by taking into consideration a special grant for the Dayaks in Sarawak,” the statement added.
The NGOs pointed out that the Dayak community – though the majority race in Sarawak – remains far behind in terms of development compared to other races, and expressed concern that the community would be further left behind if nothing is done to address this.
“The gap is obvious. We also see that development of public facilities such as roads, schools, clinics, communications, clean water, electricity and others in Dayak-majority areas is still far behind. Therefore, we want to get the attention of the Prime Minister to review the promises made during the formation of Malaysia, as stated in MA63, by taking into consideration the balance of development between Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak and Sabah.”
The NGOs stressed the importance of restoring the two Borneo states as equal partners in the federation, as was agreed upon during the country’s formation in 1963, saying this would help strengthen ties between the three regions.