All natives in Borneo should unite under one banner — Kitingan

Extract from Borneo Post 09.08.2010

ONE DAYAK: Jeffery (back row, eight left) poses in a photo-call with panels and guests of the inaugural Borneo Dayak Forum. Also seen is Dusit (back row, sixth right) and John Brian, (second right).

ONE DAYAK: Jeffery (back row, eight left) poses in a photo-call with panels and guests of the inaugural Borneo Dayak Forum. Also seen is Dusit (back row, sixth right) and John Brian, (second right).

KUCHING: Solidarity has always been the main essence to achieve unity among the people and it is high time that all natives in Borneo unite under one banner – the Dayak.

In his closing remark of the Borneo Dayak Forum (BDF) held at Penview Hotel here yesterday, BDF pro-tem president Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan said that all natives in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan should unite as one entity if they were to fulfill their potentials as a strong race globally.

“We must understand that we are all Dayak. All who recognise themselves as natives in Borneo should realise that the word ‘Dayak’ itself is gold. When it comes to culture, way of living, economics activity and even community upbringing, we are all the same. In terms of development, we all have the same wish and now is the time for us to work together and unite to build solidarity.

“The strength of all races when combined together would ensure that we could enjoy the richness of Borneo and bring each other forward together,” added Kitingan stating that now was the time for all ‘Dayak’ (natives in Borneo) to rise and build a positive outlook on solidarity’s strength.

“Where do the Dayak go from here? Who we are as Dayak and what can we achieved? Only each and single individual knows the answer. We must all picture the good things to come when we are solid,” he stated.

Kitingan also mentioned that it was important to raise the level of consciousness in all fields for the development of Borneo and its people. Stating BDF as a vehicle that could promote such awareness, he stressed that all Dayak could discuss and solve relevant issues by sharing their strength.

By working together, a lot of energy could be generated and such forum would be a good tool to harness it, he explained.

Speaking to The Borneo Post after the forum, he highlighted among the steps needed to be taken by the BDF was on education. The Dayak needed to set a target on where they would be in years to come and that a formula is needed for all to work together for the benefit of all.

Among the plan in consideration was to set up a Credit Union (which was equivalent to co-operatives) especially for the Dayak. Kitingan stated that the union was a practical way to harness people’s potential and that it was one system that would bring the people together to fight poverty and enhance the economy.

“The main problem we are facing is that we are fighting our problems separately. There should be a body to centralise our issues especially when it comes to land. Land is very sensitive topic among the people. It is managed in a localised manner depending on customs. It is now up to the Dayak on how to come up with a system to manage and protect their land and resources,” he pointed out.

He also mentioned that BDF would study on indigenous people from all over the world such as the natives Indian-American on how they organised themselves, defended and fought for their rights. The study would also include the implementation and how to get the Dayak to be aware of their native rights.

He also mentioned that BDF would be registered as an international non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The inaugural BDF yesterday saw four papers presented by invited panels from the State and neighbouring Sabah as well as Kalimantan.

Organising chairman Dr John Bryan Anthony who is also Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) deputy president opened the forum with his topic ‘Genesis Borneo’. Chairman of ‘Dewan Adat Dayak Kalimantan Barat’ Bapak Thadeus Yus delivered a topic on Customs and Tradition – ‘Adat Dayak Kalbar’ (Kalimantan Barat).

Sabah’s representative came in the form of Benedict Topin who represented Borneo Heritage Foundation. His topic was ‘Culture and Customs of Dayak-Kadazandusun’. The last speaker of the day was a representative from one of the Credit Union in Kalbar Thomas Ydh who spoke about the credit union and its benefits.

The BDF was organised here by SDNU. Also present was SDNU president Mengga Mikui, the forum’s panels chairman Dr Dusit Jaul who is also SDNU publicity officer.