By John Isaac
SARAWAK PAS has defended its use of the term Darul Hana to describe Sarawak and denied claims by Sarawakian activists that the Islamic party was attempting to change Sarawak’s identity from a secular state to focus on a single religion.
The state government and tourist literature commonly refer to Sarawak by the descriptive term Bumi Kenyalang (Land of the Hornbills).
PAS state commissioner Jofri Jaraiee said Darul Hana was used during the rule of Sultan Tengah from 1627 to 1657 and the term also meant a harmonious and safe place for everyone, he said.
However five local NGOs said continued use of the descriptive term could disrupt racial and religious harmony in the state. They accused PAS of distorting history, saying that Sultan Tengah ruled only a small area around present-day Kuching, and was only a minor portion of the modern state of Sarawak.
Jofri said the term “Sarawak Darul Hana” may be foreign to Malaysians because of a lack of historical studies prior to British rule.
“PAS will continue to use the word Darul Hana as long as it is not against the country’s rules because ‘Darul Hana’ means a peaceful place,” he said as reported by Free Malaysia Today.
Jofri denied any attempt to change the name of the state and accused critics of “trying to create a wrong impression as if PAS in Sarawak is forcing non-Muslims to embrace Islam”.
On Sunday, a protest against the term was issued by the Dayak Think Thank Association, Dayak National Congress, Sarawak Iban Association, Persatuan Balang Balai Nyabong, and Sarawak Dayak Iban Association Miri.
They said modern-day Sarawak was not a continuation of the Tengah sultanate, which lasted only 30 years, and the term Darul Hana “has never been used since the setting-up of the modern government of Sarawak in 1841”.