Justice system for Borneo’s Dayak community mooted

Gawai Dayak parade. Image via Flickr

A DAYAK International Justice System will help those often confronted with community and traditional issues.

The Dayak International Organisation (DIO) president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who proposed the system, said it could also organise and unite the Dayak community, which number over 10 million across Borneo.

He said the idea was based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that such peoples have the right to culture, identity, language, protection of traditional land and many other rights, including to self-determination.

Issues they are being confronted with include land grabbing, cultural infiltration, demographic engineering and the criminalisation of tradition, among others.

“On top of that, the Dayak people are also falling behind in terms of education since many of them, such as in Kalimantan, prefer to live on their ancestral lands, which are often deep in the jungle.

“However, lately, there is a growing awareness within our Dayak community on the need to unify and work together for the sake of future generations,” he said in a statement.

Kitingan, who is also Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, added that the Dayak community must band together and form their own institution, with representatives from all four regions of Borneo, namely Sabah, Brunei, Sarawak and Kalimantan.

By coming together under one banner, he said they would have a stronger voice in local politics and may be able to influence policy making in respective governments.

“We are one race, and governments must acknowledge this. We need to have a voice at the global level in the United Nations.

“By establishing the Dayak International Justice System, we will be able to codify our traditional Adat and one day use this system to administer the whole Dayak community throughout Borneo. It would be a borderless Borneo,” he said.

The Dayak people, he said, must be bold in demanding and capitalising on these rights to better their communities while preserving their traditions and way of life.

“These include the right to receive education while also having the opportunity to promote our traditional knowledge and Adat based on our three principles of respecting our ancestors, honouring our parents and venerating the environment,” he said.

To date, the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku president said they had organised several events, including sporting ones and a Borneo cultural festival that celebrates the customs and arts of the Dayak people.

“However, these activities are not nearly enough to bring us all closer together. The Covid-19 pandemic also slowed our progress. However, we will engage in more activities like this in the future. We must keep this momentum going,” he concluded. – NST

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