Sebangan is located in the State of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Numpang Suntai and 14 others, representing 276 Iban families from the 15 longhouse communities of Kampung Entanggor, Ensika, Lumut, Arus Dayak, Tongkah Dayak, Tongkah Dayak Lubuk Manta, Tongkah Dayak Atas, Tongkah Dayak Rumah Panjai, Lunying, Belimbing Besi, Ketimbong and Bajong Ili, Bajong Ili Atas, Bajong Ili Tengah, Bajong Ili Baruh, all situated at Sebangan, Simunjan, Sarawak, filed their civil suit at the Kuching High Court on November 1st, 2010.

This case was heard at Kuching High Court on August 8th though August 19th 2011. This civil court proceeding is far from over. It is to continue on November 8th through 11th, 2011 and will reconvene again on December 19 through December 23rd, 2011.

Named as defendants in the civil suit are Quality Concrete Sdn Bhd the timber concession holder, Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd the logging contractor, 2 government appointed community leaders Penghulu Merum anak Babu and Ketua Kampung Agu anak Kaleng, together with the Director of Foresty and the Sarawak State Government.

The Sebuyau and Sebangan Ibans still need your moral and financial support to fight against illegal loggers. Your contributions will pay for the legal expenses and the cost of transportation, lodging, and food for Sebangan villagers who will be attending the proceedings in Kuching.

We desperately need your support to save our NCR heritages and our prestine environment from further destruction. If we lost this case, we will lost our land and forest to timber tycoons and oil palm plantation owners. Losing this case is losing our life line, our means of survival. Without our land and forests, we the Dayaks, the natives of Borneo, we have nothing.

In the USA please e-mail for postal address and other information. Or you can use Pay Pal by clicking Donate and you can use any credit cards to donate on-line. Thank you for you donations and support.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Iban Kepapas or Binking towards each other - Envy, Selfish and Jealousy

I am the baby sitting on my mother's lap.  My brother Numpang was not born.
In his blog Dr. John Brian Anthony wrote “By our environment I see that we are exchanging our community strength into individual living. People are still living in the longhouse but instead of being competitive in our approach to earning our living we prefer do display or make known to others that we are better than them. That attracts jealousy and that make people more selfish.”

Sorry, I tend to disagree with that statement. I am not responsible for their way of thinking and why should I feel guilty because my life is better than theirs? I know what it was like to be poor and living in a hut made of tree barks and “atap apong.” My parents worked hard to educate us. We worked hard to be where we are today. “Kepapas” have been in existence since the beginning of time. I am not going to tolerate any form of gossips about my brother after what he had gone through! Nothing come easy or free and we have to work for everything we got in life. Why do Ibans get away with blaming others for their own bad behaviors and way of life?

I did not grow up in a longhouse. Our longhouse was dismantled when folks decided to live on their own plot of lands for easy commute to their farms.

I remember my mother told me the story of living in the longhouse that if you went out hunting and bagged a wild boar, the meat was shared equally among the folks in the longhouse. My father loved to hunt and one of the few men who managed to bring meat to the longhouse. My mother told me after a while she felt resentful because they started to depend on my father for their supply of wild boar meat. My mother said that some men were lazy and did nothing all day but took for granted the steady supply of meat. Once my parents moved out of the longhouse, they no longer shared the meat with all the longhouse folks and they started to badmouth my father for being selfish and not sharing the meat with them.

During the colonial days, my father used to go to the district office to pay his “chukai tanah.” He remembered how the office workers talked down to him. He told himself that one day when he has children, he would make sure his children would go to school and get a good education and be sitting in an office like these folks. Instead of raving and ranting how shabbily he was treated and threatening to shoot someone, my father used the episode as an inspiration to do better with his life.

When I was young, I heard one of my uncles telling everyone that he was going to make 5 ribu ringgit from the sale of his pepper and he turned around to my father and said, “Suntai, nuan nadai kala meda duit nyampau nya.” That is to say that my father never seen that much money. Instead of raving and ranting and calling him “kurang ajar” we kept quiet and felt inspired. I swore that I too would be able to make 5 ribu ringgit one day.

In the good old days, my folks raised hogs. It was one of my chores to chop “keladi” and bath the hogs by carrying buckets of water from the river! I remember how itchy it was when the keladi saps trickled on my back as I was carrying it home in the rain. Every 6 months or so, my father would load the hogs on a boat and “bedayong” to Sarikei to sell the pigs. After a trip to Sarikei, he would come home with a wad of money. Just before harvest, many folks would borrow money from my father and after the harvest they paid him back with rice. After a while we had nice pile of rice.

I also remembered the grief stricken look on my mother’s face when she found out 4 of our hogs were dead, rat poisoned by our own relatives!

There are good people and there are bad people. People who bad mouthing others and kepapas, do not take responsibility for their own actions and always come up with all kind of creative reasons for behaving the way they do. They love to do the finger pointing not realizing that their other three fingers are pointing at themselves. I remember how SNAP officers blaming PKR and BN for their loss in the last election but did not take responsibility of their own words and press releases.

As the case in with my relatives in Sebangan, many of them sided with the logging company and secretly went to Sibu to be wined and dined and later signed the “Surat Penjanjian” to sell off their rights to the lands but felt insulted when someone told them that they had sold off their NCR lands and forests in Ulu Sebangan. This fight against logging company has gone on for over a year and none of these who bad mouthed my brother ever interested in taking part in the community meetings or with the blockades, except to grab the 250 ringgit as fast as they could. About 90 of them regretted it and complained to the Police. Others did not until they heard about the civil suit asking compensation for damages and loss of timber. The ones who complained the loudest are the ones who did the least! They blamed my brother to justify for their own bad behaviors.

My brother is not a saint but he does not deserve the meanest being directed at him and his wife for things that were fabricated in their own heads. What kind of Iban would dare someone to rape my sister-in-law? My brother did not volunteer to be the leader but members from 11 villages voted for him to lead them in their fight against the logging company. Yes, my brother was asked to contest in the last election but we fully understood how easy it is for fellow Ibans to turn on each other like a pack of hungry wolves!

Personally, I feel the Ibans who are “kepapas” and bad mouthed others, are usually not too well informed, not too successful in life and internally a very angry person. As a result they have very low self esteem and because they think so low of themselves, they also perceive others as “thinking low” of them. Unfortunately they gossip a lot and find fault with others who have a much better life than them. This way they feel empowered for being able to take down a person’s good name and reputation, a notch or two. Remember what they said about gossip? Gossips are malicious and gather strength with age and the more it is quoted, the more it is believed.

Kepapas and selfishness is a universal disease that afflicts every level of society and not just us Ibans. It so much more obvious in such a closed knit society like us Ibans in Sarawak.  It hurts and saddens me more than I can say.

NOTE:  When I was a broadcaster for Radio and Televison Malaysia, I used to know just about every civil service folks from Lundu to Lawas.
   As a reporter, I used to cover many of the ministers' trips to the rural areas.

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