Ethnologue (Gordon 2005) estimates that there are about 6,900 languages spoken around the worldtoday. It is also estimated that only 4% of the globe’s 6 billion people speak 96% of the world’slanguages (Crystal 2000).

Nettle and Romaine (2000) estimate that about half the known languages in the world have disappeared over thepast 500 years and Crystal (2000) suggests that an average of one language may vanish every two weeksover the next 100 years. This would lead to around half of the languages currently spoken around theworld to disappear by the turn of the next century.

In the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, other languages are also taught. The Iban language catering to the largest group in Sarawak is also a POL in both primary and secondary schools.
However, the reality is rather different as there is a lack of trained teachers. Consequently, few if any secondaryschools offer Iban as a subject (Sercombe, personal communication). In the state of Sabah, also in East Malaysia, Kadazandusun has been taught as a POL in government schools since 1997 (Smith 2003), and the use of Murut has just started according to Kimmo Kosonen (2005).
In West Malaysia an Orang Asli (the indigenous people of West Malaysia) language called Semai, is being used as a POL at lower primary school level in some schools where the community dominates. The use of these minority languages does not mean that minority languages are alive and many languages survive only if they are maintained in the home domain.
Unfortunately, the emphasis on Malay, the National language, and also English, the most widespread international language, are seen as more important than time spent on learning the mother tongue and a number of speech communities who do not see any economic value in their respective heritage languages are shifting away from the habitua luse of their ethnic languages.
In Sarawak, in order to be identified as Malays, the Orang Miriek who also are Muslims have shifted to Bahasa Melayu Sarawak. The issue of being teased by members of the dominant group and the backwardness associated with the minority group not only makes the younger generation of Orang Miriek take on a Malay identity but this is also the case with other ethnic groups who have converted to Islam
As the constitutional definition of a Malay is one who practices the Islamic religion, has a Malay way of life and uses the Malay language, non- Malay Bumiputeras who are Muslims often adopt Malay culture and identity. When this happens, their children will shift language use to Malay because they have taken Malay names and joined Islamic activities where their peers are mostly Malay.
The Bidayuh for instance, who are generally described as “a Christian race” (Minos 2000), have a number who have converted to Islam or “masuk Melayu” (become Malay). According to Chang (2002) there are about 300 families out of 10,750 Bidayuh families in the Kuching Division who have converted to Islam and hence this figure shows that about 3% of the Bidayuh population has embraced the Islamic faith in the Kuching Divison already. Therefore, Bidayuhs who have converted to Islam, mostly through intermarriage with Muslims, adopt Malay culture and identity markers such as wearing ‘baju kurung’, speaking Malay and eating Malay food (see David andDealwis 2008).
Sourced from The Linguistics Journal- September 2009
What have we become? Bowing to the majority because we are embarassed? Let us all think for a moment of the future of our culture, and be proud of our heritage.

The Jati Miriek

Taken from Learn Miriek.

Miriek are very different from Daleik and most people nowadays confuse between the two.

The Miriek were originally interior people of the Miri River ( Likoh Miraik), Padang Liku and Sg. Taniku area. They were forced into a coastal habitat as a result of the downriver expansion of the Kayan around 180 years ago. The original Miriek culture and language is almost extinct to the point that most Miriek prefer to be known as Malay and discard their ethnicity. In 1977 the Miriek speakers population are estimated around 2500 persons and sadly this number is decreasing quickly.

The Miriek originally were divided into two main group. This division is of no significance today. The first group were called Miriek Bahut ( Original Miriek) and the other were known as Miriek Permaisuri. The Miriek Permaisuri were the followers of a Celebes-born queen ( Malay: Permaisuri) and her son Tahir, who married a local woman named Timah.

There is also an oral tradition surrounding two heroic leaders of both Miriek Bahut and Permaisuri called Deng and Sureng. They plotted to make their son the leaders of all Miri.The descendants of Miriek Permaisuri mostly live in Kpg. Wireless while the Miriek Bahut still until today live around these area:

Current Name/ Original name:
Pujut= Unan
Kpg. Pujut Seberang = Kappong Unan Pait Dipar
Pujut Pdg. Kerbau= Kappong Unan Hadeng Kerbew
Kpg. Pangkalan Lutong = Kappong Song Lutong
Kpg. Bekam = Kappong Bekam Laut
Pujut Adong = Kappong Adu
Lopeng= Luheing
Sg. Miri = Likoh Miraik

Tarian Hudoq Bahau


From The Star 27 June 2011: Author extreme right

Anak Borneo made an appearance at the annual Miri Red Crescent Dance for Humanity 2011. They brought a Bahau (of Kalimantan) dance, the Tarian Hudoq.

The Hudoq dance is also practiced in Sarawak by the Dayaks, but not as widely or as intricate as the Kalimantanese. Hudoq means ‘mask’. It represents the spirits or gods of old that came down to the world in the form of animals like birds, pigs, crocodiles or wolves. The dance is for the paddy planting ritual or for scaring and entertaining kids. The dancer’s body is covered with banana leaves, or sometimes coconut husk or mats.



I am HARAM, is it?

Living in Sarawak  is unlike any other experience. Without sounding too cliched, the numerous ethnic groups (about 60 plus on last count) that populate the state makes for a very diverse and colorful environment. We probably have more cultural festivals (Borneo) combined than any other place in the world.

Living with neighbours that differ so much from us means that you get used to and accept the adat or traditions of the different ethnic groups. The ethnic composition of Sarawak is such that there is an almost equal balance of the major ethnic groups with the Ibans making up 30%, Malays 28% at 2nd place (rough estimates).

Which brings us to Sarawakian Malays. I have always prided in Sarawakian Malays. They are (mostly) open, tolerant and moderate people who has lived beside the Dayak with not much problems. Most of them have no qualms about eating in a Chinese cafe, or using crockeries/cutleries in a non-Muslims house. They understand their faith and what it stands for. They know what Islam means. Like the Mufti of Perlis Dr. Mohd. Asri Zainul Abididin said,

Soalan: Sebagai seorang bukan Islam, saya dimaklumkan terdapat juga orang Islam yang berasa tidak selesa berkongsi peralatan dapur seperti pinggan dan cawan di rumah saya. Bagaimanakah Islam memandang persoalan ini

Jawapan Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin: Mengarut! Apa perlu berkunjung rumah seseorang kenalan bukan Islam kalau kita menganggap tidak boleh makan atau minum di situ? Saya kecewa dengan pentafsiran Islam begini. Agama itu sebenarnya membuatkan kita menjadi lebih bijak. Pandangan ini menjadikan seseorang lebih bodoh.

Selagi sesuatu yang dijamu kepada kita itu halal, maka ia boleh dimakan, sama ada buah, ikan atau sebagainya. Kemungkinan-kemungkinan yang kita tidak nampak itu tidak wajib diambil kira. Kerahmatan ini tidak terhad kepada orang Islam sahaja.

Kalau kita buat baik kepada orang bukan Islam, kita juga mendapat pahala, macam kita memberi sedekah kepada orang bukan Islam. Perkara ini soal keinsanan dan nilai agama yang tamadun.

And there’s this.

Persatuan Peguam-peguam Muslim Malaysia (PPMM) meminta Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) dan majlis agama islam negeri turut menyiasat dakwaan bahawa menjadi kebiasaan bagi kedai kopi di Sarawak menjual makanan halal dan haram di tempat yang sama.

Presiden PPMM Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar berkata, ini kerana makanan yang bercampur boleh menukarkan yang halal kepada haram.

“Apatah lagi cara penyucian peralatan yang digunakan seperti pinggan mangkuk, sudu garpu dan sebagainya perlu juga diteliti.”

Many Muslims work at Chinese cafes. Unknown to many, the Chinese owners always makes sure that the Muslim staff do not touch the plates/fork/spoons but only to collect the glasses and wash them. I work in the industry, I know. Most stalls collect their own plates too.

So what if a Muslim food stall stands next to a Kolo Mi stall? Is the Kolo Mi owner going to throw pieces of pork into the kuah Mi Jawa? If even plates/spoons contaminated by “najis” unusable, then what about made in China products? My hands touch pork all the times, does it mean you must samak if I shake your hand?

Sad to say most Muslims never actually fully understand the Quran. They wave it at protests, hang it in their cars, but do they truly know what they are mindlessly reciting? Most Muslim practices today aren’t found in the Quran. Instead they’re traditions, or based on the Hadith. Even the hijab doesn’t exist in the Quran. It’s meant to keep sand out, unles you’re pro-Taliban.

This type of extremism didn’t exist a decades ago. Now the more extreme brand of Islam is contaminating the Sarawakian Malays who have never had any problems eating with their non-Muslim friends or at their homes. I worry. The source of Malayan(PPMM is one such entity) fear over the sovereignity of Islam (which I MUST stress is never Sarawak’s official religion) is deeply rooted in the fact they don’t know much about their own. They undermine the religion of others to pamper their own insecurities.

I dread the day when the Muslims here turn into zealots like their Malayan counterparts. (Like my brother studying in Terengganu said, “The Kelatanese are quick to explain (about Islam), the Kedahans are quick to convert (you).”)

You get thrown to hell for touching pork? Or breathing in air that has pork particles (whatever the hell that is)?

If your faith is strong, you wouldn’t have any problems with others. Must I even tell you what your own Prophet said? Sheesh.


A thought

There are many subgroups of the “Bidayuh” spread across Kuching, Padawan, Bau, Penrissen, Samarahan and Serian. Each subgroups are named after specific geographical references, namely rivers, hills, plants or mountains. The question that’s always been nagging me is how distinct are difference between each subgroup? Is it mere geography or is the language/culture also vastly different?

For the sake of convenience, most have been grouped together without regard for difference in culture or language. I’m hoping to travel to each of these places and find out the difference in terms of language and culture, in relative to their closest neighbour.

Then, instead of just “Bidayuh”, we can truly see how diverse the ethnic groups are just within the “Bidayuh”.

Now if only I’m an employer instead of an employee, and the price of petrol falls.