By Luke Rintod
KOTA KINABALU: A new pan-Borneo grouping called Borneo Dayak Forum or BDF is set to take centrestage on all issues involving the unified native Dayak community in Borneo, the third largest island in the world.
Its inaugural president Jeffrey Kittingan from Sabah said BDF was born out of a realization of the necessity for all the indigenous people of Borneo to reach and relate, share and work together for their common interest.
“This realization started in Sabah a year ago, moved down to Sarawak then finally to Kalimantan Barat.
"It is only the beginning of this formality. Much work has already been done to bring us together as one people…. Next year we have plans to visit the United States and the United Nation to study indigenous communities’ progress,” said Kitingan a Kadazandusun, who is also a PKR vice president.
Launched last Sunday, BDF is believed to be the first pan-Borneo socio-cultural body. It identifies with most of the natives in Borneo, including the Kadazans, Dusuns, and Muruts in Sabah as within the Dayak grouping.
Efforts are being made to register BDF abroad, possibly in Geneva, Switzerland, to secure its role on the global stage and manage it carefully into the future.
“Weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting our Dayak brothers in Pontianak and Sanggau together with Daniel Tajem and others from Sabah and Sarawak to celebrate the Gawai Festival.
“We were received with honour and friendship. We enjoyed their hospitality and discovered that we share many things in common, the friendliness, the ‘tuak’, the singing and dancing…” said Kitingan.
Among those present at the soft-launching on Sunday were senior leaders of Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), led by its president Mengga Mikui and deputy president John Bryan Anthony; chairman of Dewan Adat Dayak Kalimantan Barat, Bapak Thadeus Yus; and president of Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA), Dusit Jaul.
At the function, Kitingan, who is also vice-president of KDCA and heads several civil society bodies like CigMa and Borneo Heritage Foundation (BHF) here, also unveiled for the first time the BDF logo that is a “Bunga Terung Dayak.
BDF senior leaders and delegates also had adopted a Dayak greeting or salaam 'Adil katalino, basermin ka suruga, basengat kajubata' which loosely translates as "be fair to all humankind, believe in heavens, God gave us lifeline”. The refrain to the greeting is: “harus, harus, harus,” which means “must, must, it is a must”.
About two-thirds of the roughly 17 million people living in Borneo, are Dayaks of various groups.