KUCHING: Ali Biju (PH-Krian) has urged Sarawak elected representatives to stop using the word ‘ulun’ during State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sittings.
He said the word directly translated to ‘slave’ in Iban, and it was extremely derogatory, repulsive and had a repugnant connotation in the community.
Ali said according to the Saratok Iban history, the ‘ulun’ groups were people who were captured as prisoners and were either enslaved or beheaded and their heads used as trophies.
“Therefore I urge everybody to stop using the term ‘ulun’ when accusing each other in the august House.
“I am offended by the accusation by one of the honourable members here accusing PH (Pakatan Harapan) leaders as ‘ulun’ to others,” said Ali when debating the 2020 State Budget today.
He also explained that although the ‘ulun’ practice had been abandoned a long time ago, to release the ‘ulun’ from their ‘contract’ they have to undergo the ‘Adat Tembang’ or ‘Gawai Betembang’.
He said ‘Tembang’, as defined by Anthony Richard’s Iban-English Dictionary, means token or pledge given at formal manumission of slaves.
During the ceremony, Ali said the master would declare the release of the ‘ulun’ to his family and relatives, witnessed by the family and relatives of the ‘ulun’.
“At times, marriage between a former ‘ulun’ and a member of the master family do happen after the practice was abandoned,” said Ali.