Friday, November 28, 2008

188] Dances with Dayaks, Tribute to Sarawak

Dances with Dayaks
Azly Rahman

"We did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this country as a home. You had yours. We did not interfere with you. The Great Spirit gave us plenty of land to live on, and buffalo, deer, antelope and other game. But you have come here, you are taking my land from me, you are killing off our game, so it is hard for us to live. Now, you tell us to work for a living, but the Great Spirit did not make us to work, but to live by hunting. You white men can work if you want to. We do not interfere with you, and again you say why do you not become civilized? We do not want your civilization! We would live as our fathers did, and their fathers before them." - Crazy Horse of the Sioux tribe

I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life there is one that matters most. It is the trail of a true human being - Kickin Bird, (quote from the movie Dances With Wolves)

The recent happenings in Sarawak interest me; something West Malaysians must learn from. A new era is dawning – of culture and consciousness in the face of state-sponsored corporate crony capitalism. The Sarawakians are dancing to reclaim ownership of their sacred land.

Eco-feminism and ecosophical thinking of Rachel Carson, Anais Nin, and even of the "Lakei Penan" or "Penan Man" Bruno Manser is resurfacing amongst the indigenous peoples of Sarawak and hopefully Sabah too. For too long, Mother Earth has been subjugated by those who do not understand what "development" means. For too long the Sarawakians and the Sabahans have been colonised by emperors in newer clothes who go into the land of the Orang Asal and install individuals, ideologies, and institutions alien to the natives and call it "progress". In the classic play "Kisah Perjuangan Suku Naga" (The Struggle of the Naga Tribe". The Javanese poet WS Rendra called these outsiders "ogres" from Tanah Seberang.

This brings us to the bigger and global question: are we environmentally doomed? Are we at the eleventh hour of total environmental destruction? How devastating has the impact of carbon dioxide emissions been? How serious is the depletion of the ozone layer? How much of the rainforests of the world have been destroyed? How fast are the polar ice caps melting, speeding up the looming disaster of Armageddon/ Qiamat of humankind? How many more frequent, major flash floods must we endure?

The Chinese philosopher and mystic Lao Tzu once said, 'Man should not have carved the stone' meaning man should not have invented things for, '... as Man began carving the stone, the process of destruction begins'. Light bulbs, automobiles, power-plants, factories, telephone lines, bombs and computers are inventions that have historically transformed nature. Human beings 'carve the stone' and build structures of power and wealth which transform or even rape Nature in the process.

Ancient philosophies and the teachings of 'revealed religion' (of the Judeo-Christian tradition) warned against the exploitation of the physical environment so that humanity would continue to be close to Nature and closer to the realisation of the Natural Self. Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and probably the most extreme of all Hindu sects, Jainism, teach human beings to respect living things as part of the great chain of beings.

But Western scientific ideology has taught Man to be free from not only thinking about spirits and spirituality, nature and the natural self, religion and deep reflection, but has also 'enlightened' human beings into mastering Nature and using its resources for the 'progress' of mankind. Progress, measured linearly and scientifically, is then equated with 'civilisation'.

What price progress?

Civilisation carries with it the necessity for technological progress and more inventions. But if Nature is destroyed in the process of creating 'civilisations', what does being 'civilised' mean? Would 'going back to Nature' and 'destroying civilisations' be a better way to conceive the meaning of human progress? Must human beings de-evolve, de-urbanise, de-technologise and de-construct themselves in order to save Humanity from its environmental doom?

Industrialisation is a process of transforming nature to culture by the state's appropriation of natural resources. The resources are transformed into technology and techniques and applications derived from the use of science help fuel inventions. Inventions are products/artifacts of the activities of the human mind, activities that are fueled by the need to master man's destiny and the environment. But these inventions contain 'inert capital’ in them, transforming human labour into technologies.

Technologies are then used to further transform nature into culture. Culture in this sense means the culture that comes into being as a result of human beings' economic activities. Modern governments, such as those installed in Sabah and Sarawak, are the necessary evil – they use the state apparatuses and transform the environment by collaborating with powerful multinational corporations in speeding up the use of natural resources, leaving the land barren and human beings in famine and poverty-stricken. Enlightened citizens must collectively revolt against governments that systematically destroy the environment in the name of 'civilisation' and 'progress'.

Citizens must raise the consciousness on the power of these post-modern multinational corporation in that the power these primarily Western-industrialised corporations have are used to bring destruction to the peoples of this Earth as evident in the refusal of powerful nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and other global treaties that are enforced to save planet Earth.

Eco-philosophical thinking

Thinking of the Penans and of the blockades against logging, I think of a world inspired by ecological security as a paradigm of a post-global Depression Obamanomics era.

"Ecosophy" or the paradigm of thinking that synthesizes "ecological security" and "natural philosophy" ought to be explored if we are to honor Mother Earth and tame Father Hell. We need to engage in a form of thinking that takes preservation of the environment as a philosophy of development.

Amongst this is to "reuse" and not "recycle". Recycling takes a lot more energy. We need to explore what paradigm of thinking to "reuse" and what to avoid "recycling".

We should not even "recycle" politicians who are corrupted or has a record of destroying the environment. We should not even reuse them.

To engage in an "ecosophical" thinking means to go back to the drawing board of everything and rethink even the way we think. It is going even beyond metacognition; beyond even understanding the way we think about how we think about the world around us.

This might be a mentally paralysing notion even for the thinkers in our government ministries but it is worth exploring. "Ecosophy" takes into consideration not only the environment but the radical ideas about the self itself.

sarawak natives dayakI believe the Orang Asli of Malaysia - the "un-modernized" Temuans, Senoi, Semang, Jakun, Sakai, etc. - can explain this idea of human development better than any expert in any international development bank or in the Ministry of the Environment. I believe too that the Orang Asal of Sabah and Sarawak, the different tribes of the Dayaks, can teach the modern "civilized" man how not to plunder and rape ancestral lands. I believe these natives can teach us in Putrajaya what "ecosophical" thinking means.

"Ecosopohy", independence, and freedom are not a slogans but an existential state of mind and a condition of 'lived democracy', one in which citizens are aware of how oppressive systems that destroys the environment are cultivated. From ecosophy we might learn how to "revilligize" and relearn what "kampong-ism" means, a form of economic thinking that values pastoralism.

Philosophy of "kampong-ism"

We must embrace pastoralism or what we may call "kampongism". For too long the word "kampong" has taken a wrong semiotic turn to connote "backwardness". For too long the word "progress" has been equated with development projects coming from the top and dictated by people who make decisions in four or five star hotels far away from the lives of the natives.

For too long "development" and "national progress" has become meaningless mantra shoved into the minds of the natives, be they of the Orang Asal or the Orang Asli. What interests these "ogres from tanah seberang" is logging and plundering at the expense of the lives of the natives. The history of the Penan for example is a classic example of an ongoing saga of the displacement of the natives under the shibboleth of developmentalism.

Kampong-ism brings the human mind away from complex theories, complex systems, competitive and cutthroat economic philosophies, and combative male-female relationships. Kampong-ism is driven by the philosophy of Eastern existentialism, sound metaphysical construct, harmonious conception of kinship, a good balance of patriarchy and matriarchy, and an economic production system based on the good old farming system that is not "bio- technologically" driven. It is not a philosophy that kow-tows to the dictates of Wall Street, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

Kampong-ism is not race-based, ethnicity-based, gender-based, greed-based, sexual-preference- based or ideology-based philosophy of human liberation and organisation. It has the potential of reorganising societies based on the themes Rousseau, Reason, and Revolution in Human Consciousness. More than that it can be inspired by the philosophy of ecological sustainability and closeness to Nature as embodied by the Orang Asli and Orang Asal.

If there is a revolution of spiritual consciousness emerging out of the awakening of the Dayak Spirit, we in the "modern world plagued by the disease of corporate crony capitalism" ought to rejoice. We ought to learn what the new dance of the Dayaks mean. No longer will this dance be one exploited for Malaysia's tourist and hospitality industry to showcase "shallow and meaningless Malaysian multiculturalism", but a new dance for a new era grounded in Mother Earth, inspired by the Great Spirit of Dayak Awakening.

Will this dance with the Dayaks displace despotic regimes and dying demagogues? The answer lies in the way the dancers becoming the dance.


Dyaksblog said...

The Dayaks embracing civilisation by luck or fate?

Greetings to you Dr.Azly,

Right, here we go again. Debating a native tribe that slowly dying, defenceless, marginalised, force-fed with sudden modernity, and finally become endangered species fit for a zoo or museum antiquity either for fun anthrolopolgy or subject of ridicule. The American natives like the Red Indians, as your preface, much luckier than most natives here in Malaysia be it the Orang Asli, Dayaks, Kadazans and the whole bunch of non-muslim newly-civilised animists alike. Yes, Red Indians did reduced themselves until they have to live in Reserved Lands in America with hunting bisons and robbing trains in their good cowboy 'ol days but at least now U.S. govt grant them casino cartels to operate on their reserves area while at night they turned into werewolves to bent their revenge on the whiteys. Despite modernity they get lucrative casino business and continue their werewolf lifestyle. Sort of. From my thoughts as Dayak Sarawakian, and straight from my testicles I do feel that the Dayak natives here, despite all their animist and backward mentality shall not end up as Red Indians. Do you think Dayaks are prone to settle for less and at the same time preserved our laid-back mentality? While Red Indians got casino business so we Dayak deservedly get what, some bumi-status PKK Class A, CIDB G7 license for AliBaba quickie cash business? Since Red Indian fancy themselves as werewolves, Dayaks therefore fancy as donkeys, the world's most obedient creature, resembling Dayaks in general that ever-obediently bow to BN in full glory of ignorance and sakai mentality?

You see DrAzly, we Dayaks are either lucky or fated to be force-fed into many influences of civilisation. No shit-stirring but I already blog it all about Dayaks political struggles, ideology, and even idiocracy in full technicolor in The Dyaks Blog. We view modernity as stepping stone to play catch-up with other superior races, not Malay but the migrant Chinese Foochows to Sarawak, at the nearest as standard bearer (explained later). Dayaks are lucky for receiving early English education and a bit of modern belief system of Christianity by those missionary minions brought by the dubiously-called White Rajah Brookes. That were the basic ideas of modern civilisation ever to grace the lives of many Dayaks, of whom were shifting cultivators and hunters. But History book conveniently pointed the Brookes as the invading crooks that siphoned out whatever resources inside Borneo soils but Education ministry failed to point out the actual goons that served the Brookes administration were the very same Malays that promised James Brooke to defeat their enemies on behalf of Brunei Sultanate only to make James Brooke pissed off that certain parts of Sarawak be handed over as reward was never materialised. A big battle ship with guns aiming at Sultan Brunei crib did concede a vast state of Sarawak to James Brooke and the rest of the history later is up for the likes of historian to distort at whims and fancy to what we read at schools as History subject. History are custom made to confirm semi-hallucinated patriotism, rather than truth no matter what the sentiments and facts they may be. Mind you, Hang Tuah must be some muslim chinese army general from China Xian province hence his name actually Chang Chuah as special China envoy-protectorate of Malacca. So much for a customisable History book, eh?

When I say lucky for Dayaks to receive some early civilisation ideas, now turn to what fate brought to all Dayaks today. Many things actually but firstly, the very tactics of divide-and-rule employed by the Brookes to control and subdue any resistance be it from the early Dayak Ibans, the Hakka Chinese that revolted against unfair Brookes's state ruling particulary the lopsided tax system and charges. Divide-and-rule tactics basically the same thing that being perfected now by Sarawak Chief Minister 'Yang Dikasihi' Taib Mahmud, same shit different Rajah. Using the rich Chinese timber barons as prime cash movers in Sarawak politics, Yang Dikasihi able to split the Dayaks into various political parties with each elected Dayak leaders are either being held ransom or simply goes to bed with it, accept defeat without a fight. Secondly, fate also bring along the Chinese migrants brought by the Brookes be it as workers or merchants to toil the land of Sarawak and slowly now made themselves now, particularly the Foochows, as the proxies puppet masters for Yang Dikasihi to run the vast cartel of timbers and plantation schemes. We Dayaks don't blame them as they are born intelligent beings, a product of thousand of years of China civilisation, people that posses superiority second to none to Jews and Indians civilisation.

That is why the next final fate, as I can forsee, rest on intelligence advantage. We Dayaks lack in civilisation history to truly claim and govern this land of Sarawak despite being the majority of all Sarawakians. Intelligence roots with civilisation and Chinese here are bred with it to survive despite arriving here pennyless but now they can take it so much that even timbers in Papua or Solomon Islands they can loot since Sarawak was their main training base for timber lootings. That is sheer intelligence. Doesn't matter if they don't own legitemately vast area of lands but they own the greatest resources of all: human capital. Dayaks can moan and groan of native land issues till the last dying moments of Yang Dikasihi riddled with colon cancer but the vast land are all worthless if Dayaks failed to forge alliance with the Chinese. Alliance itself is very wide spectrum and only by smart synergy, moves, tactics can Dayaks with the Chinese (together constitute 70 percent of all Sarawakians against 30 percent Malays/ Melanaus) can finally end the last Rajah Yang Dikasihi of our modern age. Whether the oil royalty to Sarawak is 5 percent or 95 percent (with 5 percent token to Putrajaya instead) as reward for joining Malaya and in return waiting, being delayed for 50 years for a decent road (in Sarawak, dual-lane roads gladly, thankfully regarded as highway), it's was all the previous decision that equates intelligence. Dayaks therefore were not in the dark of these boondoggles, it doesn't matter. Intelligence generally not a great Dayak asset therefore any stupidity is a great commodity for BN. Holding power will never been this easier: manipulating the obediently ignorant, mostly poor Dayaks by using vote buyings, fear-mongering tactics and limiting news other than Bernama-led false propaganda.

Be it luck or fate, all of these dopes (divide-and-rule, delay tactics, shortchanged confused education system) being compounded for the last 50 years and here we are the Dayaks being reduced even have to live on a borrowed lands and being deliberately kept poor for ease of control. Many of the Yang Dikasihi goons will dispute it as Dayaks has progressed so much but there's nothing to proud of when a Dayak minister that rest on nepotism/ cronism rather than actual competency/ qualification and self-proclaimed as saviour of all Dayaks will forever become nothing less than Nick Nolte as Dayak leader in movie 'Farewell To The King': it's all fictitous and superficial in every sense. Ironically it was fictitous and superficial for Yang Dikasihi to blame Dayaks having trouble for settling the issue of scattered, vast area of 2 million hectreas of NCR lands yet to be issued with proper land titles due to result for being a shifting cultivators given that actually the real motive behind it is to ensure RM billions of timbers in those unsettled lands must be looted and any potential land converted into commercial lands only by his ever-shameless crooks and cronies. Hypocrisy excuses are not our way in claiming our NCR lands as it's all rightly our land but Yang Dikasihi is full of hypocrisy in ensuring we will not getting it while his goons can get state lands alienated or by contra/ in-kind deal for cheap in much more dubious manner.

So DrAzly, we Dayaks will always embrace modernity as much as we wish all the Sarawak resources not in the hands of crooks no matter what Rajah they are. It got nothing to do with our ancestral culture no matter how ridiculous it may be, as Red Indians insists they will defend it but failed so much that they have to be kept inside reserves land to survive. Somehow being force-fed with new civilisation ideas able to rid some of the bad practices but come along with it equally replaced by another form of evil. The idea of democracy afterall full of fallacy as the system is based on the highest bidder where you can buy your respect rather than earn it. A Dayak YB can win with a big vote, majority doesn't necessarily translate the respect he may got. We may accept the fantasy palm oil plantation scheme but how dubious it is for some Dayak participants with almost or zero English blindly sign the all-English agreement, without legal advise and cannot be constituted as contract made under duress or undue influence as govt deemed blink one-eye on it as long as they can get and screw-up the NCR lands for the next 30-60 years agreement period with some reportedly getting as ridiculously low as RM1 returns per acre. For now, Sarawak land resources are the immediate target for Dayaks to rightly claim and conserve while the ultimate treasure for Yang Dikasihi to loot, swindle, cash it out all for safety in his Australia custodians. It'll be a long, treacherous battle even to the extent that some of our Dayaks' best lawyers/ freedom fighters are either intimidated or bribed to align for yang Dikasihi but consider it as luck, rather than fate considering that for all these lunatics of civilisations that ever graced our land it was the headhunting practice that was able to kept away from our Dayak culture for good. Count your luck indeed.


Anonymous said...

“How fast are the polar ice caps melting, speeding up the looming disaster of Armageddon/ Qiamat of humankind?”


You touched my raw nerve with this one.

Yes, I have been to South Dakota and seen how pathetic the 4 presidential headstones were carved onto their rocky hill just when nearly noone ever really cared for Chief Crazy Horse.

You wanna know what I think?


We are just heading towards the DAY OF GOG AND MAGOG – who shall appear 40 years after A1 Dajjal and Jesus Second Coming that is – infesting this World as we know it.

Then there will be NO KETUANAN!

With 9 of them and only 1 of us Humans – HOW could that be? Heh!

Where will these Gog & Magog come from?

Nothing complicated. Not from Flying Saucers.. No Sir, they will creep from beneath the surface of our Earth.

This planet of ours is no Golf Ball.. IT’S A COCONUT with Empty space inside – you no believe me, yeah, try spin a heavenly body and see if it goes hollow formed since the beginning of time with centrifugal force. A bit like the tumble drier where you see knickers flying as the heavy stuff gravitates to the drum. You know what I mean..

Mark my word. That’s how these Earthlings been living and that’s where they will creep out from.

The Wall that Iskandar build cant hold them back from humanity for very long. Insha Allah. Read the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Hadith to know how the story end - expounding their last dying moment. Maybe then, more conscious enlightened rational sensible sane human freedom fighters will believe whats been foretold and fated!

Oh when the polar ice caps melt, you wont see me around coz that’s when they’ll come out.

Till then, Foo Chow or no Foo Chow, and Dayaks notwithstanding, Cheers. Its always fun to read you:)

~ Daeng Sulu

Lecture: Edward Said


Lecture: Noam Chomsky


Lecture: Jacques Derrida


Lecture: Jean Paul Sartre


Movie: 1984


Movie: Animal Farm


Movie: Chicken Run


Poems: Rumi


Dialogue on Religion: Karen Armstrong


Dailogue on Religion: Huston Smith


















The Bhagavad Gita


Jesus of Nazareth


Siddharta Gautama


Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)