‘Choosing community leaders a strict process’

Dennis (fourth right) receives a memento from Anthony, witnessed by Anyie (third right) and others.

MIRI: The state government is very precise in its process of screening candidates up for community leader posts, including those for Baram.

According to Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, this is to ensure that only the right candidates would be appointed as leaders of their respective communities.

“All community leaders’ appointments are done by the government as the government wants to ensure that only suitable candidates with leadership quality and credibility are chosen to lead their people, especially in most Orang Ulu communities such as the Kayans and the Kenyahs.

“This process, at times, would delay some appointments or reappointments of community leaders in Baram. But this careful process has resulted in all government-appointed community leaders being suited to the job,” he said in officiating at the thanksgiving ceremony yesterday for the appointment of Anthony Kule Lalo as the Penghulu for San area at Long Selatong Tanjong Tepalit in Ulu Baram.

Baram MP Anyie Ngau was also present at the event, where the ceremony was steeped in tradition.

In this regard, Dennis urged the Orang Ulu folk to uphold such practices – known to locals as ‘Adet’ – which had been in the community even before the formation of Malaysia.

He added that their ‘Adet’ had proven to be an effective way to manage longhouses and their people.

“The involvement of Orang Ulu paramount leaders such as Temenggong Datuk Oyong Lawai Jau in our state’s affairs is proof that the appointment of community leaders through ‘Adet’ is highly respected.

“Thus, the current and future generations should not ignore their roots and the ‘Adet’.”

Dennis commended the big crowd comprising those from various Kenyah, Kayan and Penan longhouses for attending the ceremony, saying that it showed their support for Anthony as Penghulu for the San area, which houses about 15 longhouses.

“Your presence at this event indirectly tells the government how we want our ‘Adet’ and culture to play an important role in the affairs of the state,” he pointed out.

In addition, the assemblyman shared his concern about the trend of leaving longhouses for jobs in the urban areas – one that he feared would make the young people forget their roots and ‘Adet’.

Thus, he advised community leaders to find ways on how to make them understand and appreciate their roots.

Dennis also lauded the Orang Ulu community leaders on their initiative of organising talks and seminars with the Majlis Adat Istiadat (Council for Native Customs and Tradition) to expose the young generation to the various aspects of the ‘Adet’.

Meanwhile in his remarks, Anyie reminded all appointed community leaders to deliver their best in discharging their duty.

“Be fair but firm; work with all your charges. The appointment carries a heavy responsibility even though you are not paid to carry such responsibility,” he said.

Kenyah Baram paramount leader Temenggong Joseph Ngau Lian, who also spoke, urged the community to respect their ‘Adet’ and ensure its survival, saying that it played a significant role in their lives.

The event was also attended by Telang Usan District Officer Baru Tai.