Covid-19 control the longhouse way


Bajing (centre) and his JKKK members putting up a signboard prohibiting outsiders to enter the longhouse.

BINTULU: The Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) of Rh Bajing, in Batu Niah near Miri have taken upon themselves to impose a fine of RM2,000 for any outsiders entering their longhouse as a measure to stop the spread of Covid-19 among the residents.

Longhouse chief Bajing Lingga when contacted said it was part of their own initiative to support the movement control order (MCO).

“We are not allowing any entry of outsiders especially from other towns including salesmen into our longhouse except for any urgent matters or emergency situation,” he said.

Bajing, 64 said he even instructed his people in the 51-door longhouse to stay safe at home and not go anywhere if there is no urgency for them to do so.

“We are very serious with this action because we don’t want this virus to spread and affect our people in the longhouse, we have over 300 people staying here,” he said.

He added prior to the MCO, the residents have kept enough stock of food supplies in preparation for any eventuality.

Asked if the residents are complying with the MCO, Bajing said they have to comply for their own good as well because they also need to protect their families from being infected with the virus.

“So far our people have complied with the order and we also urge other longhouses to do the same to avoid the spread of the virus,” he said.

He said there are over 60 longhouses in the Niah area and complying with the MCO is crucial to stop Covid-19 from spreading among their communities.

Bintulu Resident Jack Aman Luat when asked if what the residents of Rh Bajing had done is legal and could also be implemented by other longhouses said the imposition of the fine could be according to the Iban custom.

“Ibans do have what they call ‘adat geliga’ when they organise functions such as gawai, wedding, funeral etc whereby they imposed fine or ‘tunggu’ for breach of the adat/custom.

“In this case, I don’t want to say it’s allowed or not but at the end of the day it was their decision. You can say it is ‘movement control order’ kampung style,” he said.

Asked on the level of compliance among members of the public here on the MCO yesterday, he said so far the feedback was positive as people started to comply with the order, though the first day was a bit messy.

Jack assured that the police, Bintulu Development Authority enforcement units and other relevant authorities are moving actively on the ground to monitor the situation.

“Information Department is doing a good job going around the town of Bintulu, Tatau and Sebauh on vehicles announcing the dos and the don’ts of restrictions,” he added.