Mawan: Debate on whether ‘Dayak’ a must in Gawai greetings pointless

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Mawan (centre) leads others during the cake-cutting ceremony to mark the fifth anniversary of SDNU Bandar Riyal branch.

KUCHING (July 3): The debate on whether the word ‘Dayak’ must be added into ‘Slamat Ari Gawai’ greetings should not have been raised at all, said Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU).

Describing the debate as ‘undesirable’ and ‘avoidable’, its president Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom said SDNU should lead by example to stop it.

“If you see a fire, please stop it. Do not create a mountain out of a molehill, otherwise people would continue to be suspicious of one another,” he said when officiating at the SDNU Bandar Riyal Ngiling Bidai celebration to mark the closing of the Gawai Dayak, at a restaurant here Saturday night.

Mawan pointed out that the festival on June 1 annually has always been known as Gawai Dayak since the festival was recognised by the state government in 1965.

“The reality is that Gawai Dayak has given us Dayaks an identity and it functions to unite all races under the Dayak group,” said the Pakan assemblyman, who is also advisor in the Office of the Sarawak Premier in charge of Food Security, Commodity and Regional Development.

The debate recently sparked in social and electronic media after an observation that the word ‘Dayak’ had gone missing from advertisements and official backdrops in conjunction with the recent state Gawai Dayak celebration programmes.

The Borneo Post columnist Sidi Munan in his June 25 column in thesundaypost had questioned why it was so difficult for advertisers to add the word ‘Dayak’ to ‘Selamat Gawai’.

In responding to the matter, Minister in the Premier’s Department Datuk John Sikie on June 28 opined that it was not necessary to add the word ‘Dayak’ as the greeting ‘Selamat Hari Gawai’ was good enough to signify that the celebration belonged to the Dayaks.

Meanwhile, Mawan said SDNU should focus on transforming the mindset of the people – be they from the urban or rural areas – towards capitalising on available schemes and assistance for agriculture-based enterprises.

“Think of agro (agriculture) commercial not only for consumption but focus on export, now that we already have rural infrastructures in place,” he said.

The Dayak community, he stressed, must take full advantage of digital economy for trading and information gathering.

The local agriculture industry must transform and be modernised to grow globally involving investors with capital to move forward, he added.

“The government is serious in growing the agriculture industry globally by formulating strategies and frameworks along with intensified efforts.

“Therefore, SDNU should unite as a group to capitalise on the current development and grab the opportunity to grow.

“Discard squabbling mentality, be good example to others. Interact with those in the business world. Go for joint ventures anywhere with any suitable company and take some percentage,” he said.

Meanwhile, SDNU Bandar Riyal branch chairman Stanley Belayong Pok said the event on Saturday night also marks the fifth anniversary of the branch.

The union’s secretary-general Gerard Joseph, treasurer-general Jepthre Empali and executive secretary Spencer Birai were among those present.