Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More than 240 pro-SPDP longhouse chiefs sacked?


 
A number of tuai rumah (longhouse chiefs) and ketua kampung (village head) in the parliamentary constituency of Baram have complained that more than 240 of them have issued with letters that their appointments have expired.

The letters to these community leaders, many of whom were not only traditionally elected as chiefs but had also served their respective longhouses and villages for up to 20 years, were issued by the Marudi District Office.

They said the letters were signed by Joseph Belayong, the former Marudi district officer who has since been moved to the Sarawak Ministry of Land Development.

The letters, which were issued soon after the May 5 parliamentary election, sparked widespread belief that the longhouse chiefs and village heads were being "punished".

NONEThis was for being supporters of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), for having voted for the opposition candidate Roland Engan, or for opposing the construction of the proposed Baram dam.

More than 40 of them are from the state constituency of Marudi, while about 200 others are from the state constituency of Telang Usan.

Several longhouse chiefs contacted by Malaysiakini said the termination of all of their appointments at almost the same time would disrupt the administration of longhouses and villages and affect the interest and welfare of the longhouse folk, who need the services of their tuai rumah.

Conspiracy theory

Efforts to contact the district officer of Marudi to confirm the number of those who received the termination of appointment letters were fruitless.

A longhouse chief from Sungai Bakas Bakong in Marudi, Man Jadot, said he was sacked from his post because he supported SPDP, which is a member of the Sarawak BN.

Man said his sacking seemed to confirm the conspiracy theory that it was an effort by the former leaders and members of SPDP to weaken support for the party in Marudi for the coming Sarawak state election.

Other than his support for SPDP, Man could not see any other reason for his sacking, since he remained a strong supporter of the BN, was healthy and had the confidence and trust of the longhouse residents.

He used to receive RM800 a month as his tuai rumah allowance, but has not received it since September.

"I received a letter signed by the former Marudi district officer Joseph Belayong informing me of the expiry date of my appointment as tuai rumah.

"The letter did not say that my service was terminated nor did it say whether the longhouse should hold an election for a new tuai rumah," he said, pointing out that he was first elected as the longhouse chief more than 20 years ago, replacing his father.

NONEMan said that many longhouse chiefs in Marudi who were linked to SPDP might have been sacked in order to weaken the party headed by William Mawan Ikom (left), who is also Sarawak social development minister.

He said the sacking could have been recommended by the Marudi assemblyperson Sylvester Entri, who was expelled from SPDP in November 2011 following a major disagreement with Mawan over the appointment of the SPDP secretary-general.

"It could be his revenge in an effort to weaken SPDP," he added.

Entri has vehemently denied being involved in the issuance of the termination letters.

Meanwhile, SPDP deputy secretary-general Paul Igai said the party had contacted the district officer who said the tuai rumah were not sacked, but that their appointments had expired under the new terms of contract implemented when they were paid an allowance of RM800 a month.

"I was told this is a normal process," said Igai, who is a political secretary to the Sarawak chief minister.

"I think William Mawan will raise this matter with the state cabinet, and will make recommendations for some of them to be reappointed, depending on their health, efficiency and allegiance," Igai said.

~ Malaysiakini

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