‘Dayak’ Is Negative?


Well, I don’t want to jump into conclusions and simply support anyone on the use of the term ‘Dayak’ to refer to the general majority minorities in Sarawak, but here is what I have to say on the issue.  Before you guys proceed on reading on, please be reminded that this is my personal view, and I do not support any political party view, nor any minister or elected representative.  This is my own say, from one whom has been carrying the term ‘Dayak’ all my life, and one whom has been filling up forms by ticking the box ‘Lain-lain’ when I have to mention my ethnic group.

First things first… Am I annoyed or disgraced being called a Dayak? Surely NO.  It’s a huge NO in fact.  For me, Dayak is a term, and a name which defines origin of everyone in general.  I read in the paper that Dayak means people, so there you go… why should I feel insulted?  Even I myself prefer to call those which are within the same origins, such as the Ibans, the Bidayuhs and the Orang Ulu’s as Dayaks. Its easier and simpler to do so.

On the stance that some people think that Dayak is de-grading, insulting and colonial era, well…. maybe for them, but we don’t call the Malays, Malays until today because of nothing, do we?  And how about the Chinese?  We still keep generalizing them as Chinese until today, do we?  Even though we know of different tribes and languages witin the Chinese cmmunity.  It has nothing to do with colonial propaganda, and for me, it has nothing to do with trying to downgrade those under the umbrella of ‘Dayak’.  In fact, the term ‘Dayak’ is clearly stated in the dictionary which says that Dayak is a term used to define a native ethnic group in Borneo Island, and that is nothing short of accurate.  There is no synonyms to the word ‘Dayak’, so it does not in anyway point to uncivilized people, or anything of sorts.  Anyway, of course, if people would come up and refer to me as a Bidayuh, I’d prefer that because that’s my ethnic group.  I stand as the other Dayak MPs in Sarawak.

So, clearly.. I am not against the use of the term ‘Dayak’ to refer to the indigenous non-Muslim society in Borneo.  If there is any feeling from the term ‘Dayak’, it is pride… because it defines that I am from the beautiful island of Borneo, which is not only peaceful and rich, but because I reside at my own homeland, and live harmoniously among everyone regardless of religion, race and background.  It’s a place like no other, it’s special, and it is in fact a place everyone I know (even from the peninsular) would like to reside.

The real annoyance for me,  is ticking those ‘badly designed’ forms found practically anyway in Malaysia.  I find it disturbing to be known as ‘lain-lain’ while the other’s like the Chinese, Indians, Malays and sometime the Orang Asli and even Kadazans and Ibans get to tick up their very own box.  Altough some forms do use the term “Bumiputera Sabah & Sarawak” (which is way better that the ‘lain-lain’), but I feel it is better to put in the use of ‘Dayak’ if it is too much to ask for the listing of every single etchic group in Sarawak.  And while I am at it, I was told that when a miniters say ‘Melayu’, it refers to all the bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak…. and to this, I’d say.. BULLSHITT!!  Melayu=Malays, and is not in any way generalising it to other ethnic group.  You can change a religion of somebody, but you can’t change their ethnic group.


  1. Hi Folks, it is time to have a Dayak/ Dusun category for Malaysians to serve as the common identity of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. The natives in Kalimantan at one time rejected the term Dayak until they realized they have no common identity to serve as a unifying factor. The common bond is their home land in Borneo. Dayak is not a racial term, it simply denotes someone who are indigenous to Borneo. Dayak is a term for those who are natives to Borneo as opposed to the migrant population (newcomers) of coastal Borneo. For that matter, the Dayaks in Sabah (indigenous people) are the Dusuns, Muruts, Sungais, Bisaya, etc, though some of whom have since converted to Islam. I like the term Dayak Iban, Dayak Bidayuh, Dayak Dusun, Dayak Murut, Dayak Kadazan, etc, all are united by their common Dayak identity.

    I agree with you bro!

  2. Hey man,
    Gotta agree with you all the way. It is just plain inconsiderate and unbelievably intolerable being categorized as “lain lain”. This is just unacceptable, but I guess the big people arent paying attention to these details.
    I do think Dayak is special. It symbolizes many separate ethnic groups, but somehow, all those groups live together and come in unison as one large community.. Dayak. You do not get this much at any other places in the world. I guess they are not seeing this from our point of perspective.

    Yeah… true enough Robin. I guess some people would do anything to get political mileage.

  3. Even though I’m not pure Bidayuh, it really irks me in the form with the “lain-lain”. I don’t think Dayak is a bad term, it’s something unique to refer to all the non-Malays bumi here rather than Melayu which also refers to the bumi in Sarawak and Sabah, it’s so disgressing.

    Agree with you Irene, its just digressing!!

  4. In Bidayuh, Dayak means people, anyone, anybody, any stranger, any friend, any family. So for this to Dayak term to be synonym with ‘uncivilised, uncouth and low class’, like somebody said out there, regardless if he himself is a Dayak, is ridiculously foolish. Maybe it’s only in his mind huh? I believe the rest of the DAYAKS out there dont share his sentiments, in fact r furious. proud to be who u r for the past million years, why shd we change our identity? Or is it because there arent any other issues they can come up with to bring forward? i can help list down some… poverty, bengoh dam, meager compensation, equal rights in jobs and pangkat, more Dayak MPs, and etc.

    Yalah.. I agree with you. This issue is a non issue, and there are so many other important issues which should be highlighted.

  5. Hmmm…I do not know why the term ‘Dayak’ is a big issue. I never thought of this before until, the newspaper / minister trigger it. Newspaper or ministers have nothing better to do?

    Well well well, like Cyril Said…what’s wrong with Dayak? I’m not ashamed of it. I’m a Dayak too..a proud Dayak in fact. Too bad if what the reporter / minister or some people said about the term dayak as a low class group. For me, those people who think like that, are narrow minded people.

    Anyway, enough said about this. Cheerio!

    Yes.. you got that right. Maybe they are trying to gain political mileage?? huh.. politics…

  6. Sadly, most Malaysians tend to forget we have so many friends from the dayak community that they only know SARAWAK = IBAN. Aduh….this is what most West Malaysians like me think of Sarawak. I’m pleased to be here and I love Sarawak as well as their vibrant and unique community.

  7. Cyril 🙂 Maybe it’s like… say the Chinese has all sorts of Chinese right? As in hokkien, teo chew…” So the ethnic tribes in general are called Dayaks yes?

    Yes.. that’s right.. Simple kan??

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