News from Batang Ai (Part 6)

1. 'Satu lawan satu'

Jawah Gerang (pic, right) of PKR is facing Malcolm Mussen of Barisan Nasional in the Batang Ai by-election announced on Thursday.

Sone 10,000 people were present to send their respective candidates to the nomination centre. While the Parti Keadilan Sarawak’s supporters were from local people, the BN’s supporters came from civil servants, council staff and etc.

Johnny Chuat, an Iban blogger and producer of Iban magazine, failed to submit his papers even though he went inside the nomination centre. However, when he came out, he wore PKR shirt and called his supporters to support Jawah Gerang.

2. An encounter with James Masing

One day before nomination day, the small town of Lubok Antu was full of people literally to its brims. Wherever you went, you were bound to meet the same people.

While looking for food, three of us – myself, my colleague and our driver – we met Masing, the BN director of operations and his supporters. After finishing our food, we thought it be discourteous if we did not say hello to the minister.

So we shook hands with him. I was the last to do so. “Hello, YB Dr.” I said. Replying, he said: “Why is your Broken Shield always broken?”

“Well, because its parts and pieces are still with PBB, SUPP, SPDP, PRS, and other parties. Unless all Dayaks are united under one political party, the Shield will always remain broken”, I said. Masing looked rather uncomfortable.

3. The pig that did not die

Whatever Ibans do such as farming, constructing a house, working in distant land, “miring” (rites) is part of the custom.

When Malcolm Mussen procceded to the nomination centre yesterday, a “miring” ceremony was performed.

Part of the ceremony was for him to spear a pig. Usually after the pig has died, its livers were scrutinized carefully looking for any strange or unusual formation.

However, in Mussen’s case, they did not look at the livers as they had to hurry to the nomination centre. After they had left, someone found out that the pig was still alive. It had to be speared for the second time. What does this signify? Bad omen?

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