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.