Wednesday, March 20

Kayan chieftain requests for govt funding to maintain ancestral burial ground


Lato with an authentic Belaga durian.

BELAGA: A Kayan chieftain here hopes that the government would provide funding for the maintenance of a scared burial ground, sited on the land belonging to his ancestor Abun Matu.

According to Lato Juman of Long Amo, the two-acre site just opposite this town across the Rajang River is the final resting place of members of the aristocratic Maren caste – it is not for any common Kayan.

“We would like some allocations (from the government) to help us maintain the cemetery. With some funds, we could beautify the final resting place of our ancestors,” he told BAT7 yesterday.

Lato further pointed out that the Maren cemetery was officially recognised as an ancestral burial ground in 1982. Additionally, there are also two other burial sites for Kayan aristocracy along the Rajang River – one is at Nanga Pila and the other at Nanga Bah.

“Thus, this site has a historical significance and this justifies our request for government funding. However, I don’t know if the other two (burial sites) face the same problem,” said the 85-year-old Kayan of the Maren caste, who has been the chieftain of his area since 1982.

He said due to lack of maintenance, the Maren cemetery nowadays look very grim, with the zinc roofs over some graves either collapsed or gone missing.

He said his son and many of his close relatives including his grandparents and cousin were laid to rest there.

“The most distinguished Maren buried there was paramount Kayan chief Temenggong Matu Buso,” he said, adding that it is an obligation of every living Maren to ‘look after the dead’ – this includes taking good care of their final resting place.

Lato also told BAT7 that he did seek help from Assistant Minister of Water Supply Liwan Lagang, who is Belaga assemblyman, concerning the matter.