‘Dub Borneo Land of the Dayaks, not Land of the Headhunters’

Extract from Borneo Post 09.08.2010

BENEFITING DAYAK: Dr John Bryan Anthony and Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan (right).

BENEFITING DAYAK: Dr John Bryan Anthony and Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan (right).

KUCHING:  Borneo should not be dubbed as the ‘land of the headhunters’ anymore but instead, rebranded as ‘Land of the Dayak’.

The term ‘Land of the Headhunters’ which was heavily associated with the savage historical culture of the natives (Dayak) in Borneo was no longer relevant in today’s society and this infamous tag should be terminated once and for all.

Speaking to The Borneo Post after the Borneo Dayak Forum (BDF) held at Penview Hotel here yesterday, organising chairman Dr John Brian Anthony claimed tourists are still wary of the threat of having their heads cut off when they come to Borneo.

“And this is not friendly at all. It’s bad publicity.

“This is no longer synonym to the Dayak culture today. As the government has been promoting heavily on local Sarawak cultures as its tourism product, why not we (the Dayak) promote Borneo as ‘Land of the Dayak’ instead?,” he said.

John Brian who is also Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) deputy president added that Dayak (natives) people are famous for its rich cultures, customs and hospitality, and no longer associated with the tradition of headhunting.

“What more suitable way than to promote the Dayaks than their cultures and products,” he said.

John Brian stated that re-branding the third largest island in the world, as ‘Land of the Dayak’ would bring lots of benefit to the natives. For a start, it would create more awareness of the uniqueness and traditions of the Dayak. In addition, it would be in

line with the vision of getting all natives to group together under the Dayak banner.

“As we move forward into the 21st Century, it is very important to globalise the Dayak economy. It would certainly aid the development of the Dayak. Among other steps that could be taken was the patterning of Dayak cultural patterns, which was heavily marketed, in almost every local product today.

“We see many natives pattern commercialised in almost anything marketable today, but how many Dayaks are benefiting from this? We do not own any commercial right while our assets and heritage are excessively promoted to others’ advantages,” stated John.

He mentioned that the Dayak could take advantage of their rich cultures by doing their own heritage marketing or at least join in the bandwagon on promoting themselves and this would be amongst the plan to be highlighted by the BDF.

“For instant, the native American-Indian have their ‘Dreamcatcher’ while the native aborigine in Australia profited from their boomerang. All this tribes are paid royalty by their government.

“It’s high time we could do the same for our native products. BDF will look into this matter,” he explained.

BDF pro-tem president Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan who was also present, told The Borneo Post that all natives should be aware of the part that they could play to benefit the people.

He added that other ways to promote unity among all Dayak was by organising more Borneo festivals as these would give practical benefit for the natives.

“We can have our very own Borneo tourism. We can promote our products, folk games and even traditional sports. We can even have an inter-Borneo blow dart competition for instant,” he added.

Kitingan also mentioned that fashion was also another trade that all locals could promote. He stated that all local designers should work together to promote and raised the economics of the natives through the fashion industry.

“We can call it Borneo Fashion,” he suggested.

In addition, Kitingan also stressed that there were many potentials that the Dayak could tap in from their own cultural and heritage resources, which could be marketed to the world.

“All the natives could work together in combining their resources and expertise to promote Borneo and its people. We must compliment each other. One could produce, one could manufacture while one could market. In the end, all would prosper,” he highlighted.

SM: Welcome to Land of the Dayaks