A Representative Sarawak - Still a Pipe Dream

Saturday 26 March, 2016

Picture credit: sarawakonline.wordpress.com

On today’s show, the question of migrant workers reappears. Putrajaya were forced into an embarrassing u-turn on their policy of 1.5 million Bangladeshis after public outcry, but James Masing still wants to press ahead. We speak to Unggal Siew, an oil palm smallholder himself. He confirms that workers are indeed in short supply, but that these are better sourced from Indonesia where the skill set is a better match. Of course, he says, if the government is really out to help the smallholder, they should reduce the levy for them. And if they really care about the welfare of the workers, they need to step up enforcement on the ground to avoid exploitation by unscrupulous parties. A win win situation must be found for all.

Then blogger Bongkerz Bong gives us his feedback on two of our major stories of the week. When it comes to low cost housing, he declares that this should be allocated on the basis of need and not on the basis of race. Far from promoting racial harmony, this kind of segregation, especially in urban areas, can only serve to increase the gulf between communities. He draws comparisons with Kalimantan where their trans-migration program was open to all equally, regardless of ethnicity. Isn’t it time for modern Sarawak to set aside racial difference and recognize that we are all sons of the same state? As for foreign workers, he wishes that Sarawak would focus more on reversing the brain drain. Why not encourage our own skilled workers back instead of simply kissing them goodbye and replacing them?

Four years ago, the Public Service Commission set a target – 100,000 Dayaks entering the civil service – and tasked various NGOs, including SDGA (Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association) with achieving it. With some uncertainty as to whether it could be achieved, the NGOs took it on. Now, it seems clear that this has been a total failure. Mr Iswandi of the state-level Public Services Commission denies all knowledge. Sarawak apparently only has responsibility for hiring medical workers; everyone else, from Immigration to JPN is hired at Federal level. But for medical, the adverts go out in the paper and on the radio. President of Cuepacs (the Civil Service Union) Azih Young is clear that there is no racial bias in recruitment criteria, however the result is not representative of the racial make up of the state. After all, people won’t apply if they don’t know about the job or if they believe they are not going to get it. If the government is serious about redressing the racial balance in the civil service, he says, then they must change their recruitment process, using media and means that are appropriately targeted to the desired audience. Advertising online is not going to encourage rural Dayak to apply. Then Philip Tero of SDGA comes in hard. He says the Government are paying mere lip service to recruiting more Dayak. Far from being brought centre stage, he says, they are being increasingly sidelined. They must change their policy, he adds, before there is a major conflagration.

Tune in for all this and more, plus our Borneo Bulletin.

Semoa kita tau bejako!

Picture credit: Freemalaysiatoday

Stay in touch with
Radio Free Sarawak