KUCHING: A prominent Bidayuh leader has warned that the community’s identities are slowly declining with regards to the use of historical terms and names of places and dialectical language.
Former Kuching Division Bidayuh Temenggong Datu Stephen Jussem Dundon said historical terms or names such as the word ‘Bung’ meaning ‘top’ of mountains, hills — like Bung Derod, Bung Bratak, Bung Singai, Bung Siburan, Bung Sadong and so on — had been replaced with puncak by the present generation, such as in Puncak Borneo instead of Bung Borneo.
He pointed out that this erosion of linguistic usage can weaken the local community’s historical connections and significance to certain places.
“Kota Padawan — rightly it should be Kota Penrissen, which was and still is known as 10th Mile Bazaar because 10th Mile Bazaar appropriately and historically commands the Penrissen Main Trunk Road, which leads to Bung Penrissen, so this 10th Mile Bazaar should be known as Kota Penrissen instead of Kota Padawan.
“Kota Padawan should be at Tapah Bazaar because the bazaar is just opposite Simpang Padawan main trunk road leading to Padawan/Annah Rais linking other areas via Sibanjai Bridge,” he said.
According to him, it is more appropriate for the present Siburan town in Siburan sub-district to be known as Kota Sentah as it is the pride of the Biatah Bidayuh.
This is because Bung Sentah/Derod Sentah is a good and majestic historical background of Siburan sub-district serving Batu Gong, Putan, Bedah, Emparak and other areas.
He also lamented that most Bidayuh were losing touch with their native dialects.
“Old Bidayuh dialects or terms such as ‘Tiboduk’ or ‘Korak’ tubi and superlative terms such as ‘Songut Petu’ or ‘Buda Posia’ or ‘Buda Kosad’ are neglected or unknown by most of the Bidayuh, what more to say about the future generations. Just imagine what would happen to the future! Our future!” he exclaimed.
He called on Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) leaders to take prompt action as well as do more this year to strengthen the Bidayuh language and identity.
“I would suggest that DBNA should organise (Bidayuh language) classes for the Bidayuh living in urban as well as in the rural, if they have not done so. Community leaders must think seriously about these situations. They must travel and visit, organising dialogues regularly with their people. They should be highly concerned,” he said.
He estimates that if DBNA were to collect membership fees of RM1 to RM2 per person per year from a Bidayuh population of about 200,000, at least RM150,000 per year can be collected for the association to carry out these community building activities.
“We should not depend on renting alone of the magnificent DBNA building for which the untiring efforts of (DBNA chief advisor and Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister) Dato Sri Michael Manyin and (DBNA president and Tourism Ministry permanent secretary) Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and SCM (supreme council members) are highly appreciated by most Bidayuhs,” he said.
He also reminded the community to put aside selfish interests and personal egos for the sake of the community’s future.
“Individualisation and egoism are things of the past. These had made the community to be dragged behind and miss out on so much development. It is not easy to try to avoid the temptation of self-satisfaction, being self-centred and to leave one’s comfort-zone, but I am sure many of us will try to change for the better during 2015.
“My humble advice especially to Bidayuh students, businessmen, farmers et cetera — don’t be easily satisfied, but think that nothing is impossible with God in mind to guide and therefore work and study hard. The sky is the only limit.”