Monday, April 21, 2014


16 APRIL 2014

Once again William Mawan is abusing his authority by threatening community headmen with the sack if they dare to be ‘very naughty’ by going against the government (Borneo Post 5 April 2014). It is unbelievable that a minister such as William Mawan does not understand the concept of democracy and the freedoms of speech, assembly and association guaranteed to all citizens by our constitution.

This is not the first time he has threatened community leaders. Last year before the general elections, he said ‘any civil servant, including the appointed community leaders, found to be going against Barisan during this campaign, will be removed after the election.’ [The Star 3 May 2013]

The Laws of Sarawak Chapter 60, “Community Chiefs and Headmen Ordinance, 2004” Section 8(1) clearly states that community leaders, namely Tuai Rumah, Pengulu and Pemanca, are prohibited from holding any post in a political party. This does give BN leaders the liberty to force them to dance to the BN government’s tune. Their foremost responsibilities are to the communities that they head, and they must be allowed the freedom to speak up for the rights of those communities, especially if these rights have been violated by the authorities and those affiliated with the rich and powerful.

Community leaders are supposed to be respected members of the community and it is appalling that BN politicians continue to treat them like schoolchildren, controlling them with threats. This extremely demeaning treatment is aimed at reducing headmen into mere stooges of the BN instead of being the fearless leaders who would speak up for the community and act in their best interests.

BN politicians need to realise that real loyalty cannot be obtained by threats and intimidation, and that the people will eventually reject the BN’s patronizing and arrogant methods of holding on to power.

Baru Bian
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan

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