Thursday, July 18

Do away with old negative practices, Bidayuhs told

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KUCHING: Some Bidayuh traditional practices are no longer relevant in this modern era and ought to be discontinued; lest they become a stumbling block to the community.

Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin noted that one of these ‘old cultures’ was the strong spirit of communalism.

“The Bidayuhs would share everything they have with the rest of community. To them, every member must have equal standing – none should be more or less than the next person.

“They want everybody to be at the same level with them – to the extent that if someone began to climb higher, the others would do their best to pull him down.

“This is what I call the ‘crab culture’ but gladly, this one (culture) has been discarded,” he said here yesterday after launching the book ‘Etnik Bidayuh: Budaya dan Warisan’ (The Bidayuh Ethnicity: Culture and Heritage) authored by social science lecturer Charlie Ungang from the Teachers’ Training Institute (IPG) Batu Lintang Campus.

Another ‘progress-hindering culture’, Manyin said, was the belief in many taboos.

“For example, it is a taboo (for the Bidayuhs) to go to the farm or do any work when a fellow villager dies; or when they had bad dreams. These are examples of cultures that are obstacles to progress; ones that we must dispose of if we want to be on par with other communities.”

Having said this, Manyin also acknowledged that not all Bidayuh cultures were bad and as such, he praised Charlie for his efforts and research in writing the book.

“By reading the book, the Bidayuhs will know more about their own cultures, enabling them to make their own assessment on which ones should be promoted further, or which should be discarded.”

On another subject, Manyin proposed for the phrase ‘terima kasih’ – which is ‘thank you’ in Malay – to be officially accepted as a Bidayuh term.

“It seems that we don’t have any Bidayuh word to express our gratitude whenever people give us something – as if our community does not feel grateful when receiving things from others.

“Probably, we Bidayuhs have different ways of expressing our thanks such as through our cheerful gestures. Still, I would like to suggest and endorse that ‘terima kasih’ be accepted as the Bidayuh term to say ‘thank you’ – same as the Malays,” he said.