File doc KNIGHTulu4
First draft Feb 03, 2009;
Photo grabbed from Desmond Jerukan
Orang Ulu County
By Christhoper K. Knight
I remember how much I like the sound of the phrase when our Feature Editor Heidi Munan inserted “Orang Ulu County” in a line in my feature article. That phrase played well to my feeling we are some people, free and capable, going about living in big valleys, a cool prairie where the folks looked country in appearance but only in their appearance.
That was four years ago. Today’s issue, a name change for Orang Ulu, have laterally brought the Orang Ulu world to a standstill, at least until April where a symposium supposedly preceded by sensational YB Lihan Jok is going to make or break the Orang Ulu.
This is a matter of life and death for Orang Ulu. I seriously hope the people behind the plot to assassinate Orang Ulu have given much thought about the plan. Have they?
Orang Ulu is a collective term to group together over 30 indigenous tribes in Sarawak (Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Berawan, and Penan among them). It was coined in 1969 by the now defunct Orang Ulu National Association which preceded FORUM (Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia).
How the name Orang Ulu came about in the first place is another story. 40 years later today, they want to replace Orang Ulu with Lun Daya. It begs the question: Is this the best we can do?
My hope is the people behind this Operation: Lun Daya have studied all aspects in naming a society, have searched high and low, far and wide for a new name for us before they would drop the bomb on everyone in the Orang Ulu County. Have they?
Depending on the outcome of the symposium, the name Orang Ulu can see to its end. But already the Orang Ulu in this country have mixed reaction toward the motion. While a Kayan Dennis Ngau can tell me in email the choice in Lun Daya is unanimous, Lun Bawang William Ghani Bina opposed to the name change. A Kelabit Richard Lah wondered how the new name would fit in the Orang Ulu association, FORUM.
I am of the opinion that the name Orang Ulu must be dropped, as already explained in two previous articles here (“Malaysia loves Orang Ulu” and “Orang Ulu must die”).
But wait a minute! What are we trying to do really? Are we asked to agree with the new name or are we deciding on whether or not we should change the name Orang Ulu? Are we intending to do both? I have you know, doing both at the same time can be as difficult as trying to photograph a fish in the water and a bird in the cloud in the same frame.
Perhaps this is where the complication set in. These two matters should be dealt with in correct sequence. You cannot get to the next block unless you clear the first block and in this case between Yes, No Orang Ulu and Okay, not Lun Daya it is obvious the Orang Ulu is the first hurdle to clear.
But I guess I have been away too long from home I probably did not see they have cleared the first hurdle in my absence. Yet judging from the talk in email and Malaysiakini, I can only suspect they haven’t cleared anything thus far. So which of the two questions the April symposium wishes to address?
Dennis Ngau has the answer:
Your comment on the proposed change of name for Orang Ulu to LUNDAYA was forrwarded to me by Gracie.
Maybe due to lack of explaination or breifing, not many Orang Ulu see the positive aspects in REBRANDING Orang Ulu, by changing the name Orang Ulu to a more progressive name, like you are. Please note the word, REBRANDING. Because this is the basis of which the idea mooted out of looking for a new name to replace " Orang Ulu ". I recalled the Muruts did that years ago and change to Lun Bawang.
Being the Publicity Chief of Frederation Of Orang Ulu Association, Malaysia ( FORUM ), I moved around in Miri to hear comment and went to places where I could meet with our Orang Ulu brethrens and mind you, I received both good and negative / nasty comments on the proposed change of name. The nasty comments came from our people who have very little knowledge about how the name Orang Ulu came about.
Some thought that Orang Ulu is a bangsa!!. (They said) Apa mau tukar nama, Takut hilang bangsa, Ini CM memang pintar, dia sengaja nak HAPUSKAN bangsa orang ulu dari bumi Sarawak are some comments i received. I dont blame them. After listening to explaination, they understand more with the propose change of name and LUNDAYA..
The name LUNDAYA, as the new collective name refering to up river people ( Note; It is One Word ) is yet to be confirm. But among the many names suggested and put forward for discussion during a meetings of ketua masyarat on the 9th December 2008, all the Temenggongs, Pemancas, Penghulu, Ketua Kaum, Ketua Masyarakat from Kayans, Lun Bawangs, Kelabit, Bisaya, Saban, La Kiput, Berawen, kenyah, Penan who attended like the name LUNDAYA. For infor, it was not the idea of YB Lihan who came up with the name, he merely announced it as the the President of FORUM after our ketua masyarakats said their mind. And the annoucement was also to get feedback form we people.
With experience travelling to many countries and places, trust you have some good idea, so please do give suggestion on what name is most appropriate.
Again, the rebranding will not happen if members of Frederation Of Orang Ulu Association, Malaysia ( FORUM ) do agreed 100% to it.
( By the way, are you the same Chris i know during your time with one local newspaper in Miri years ago?. I cant recognise you with the name Chris only. Sorry if I sound rude )
Here's what others have said about the Orang Ulu affair.
YB Lihan Jok: Most of the community’s professionals, intellectuals and leaders have agreed in principle to the name change. ‘Lun Daya’ would reflect the resourcefulness and strength of the Orang Ulu in bringing changes and development to their families and communities.
William Ghani Bina: FORUM should not think of just a name change for the Orang Ulu but play an important role in the socio-economic development of the community. The name should be retained as it signifies the identity, culture and way of life of the community. (He advised) Forum leaders to concentrate on organising courses in entrepreneurship and agriculture for the community, instead of wasting time on cosmetic changes. (But why Murut can change to Lun Bawang, William?)
Henry Opang Luhat: Orang Ulu sounds too much like Orang Utan. I think that it’s about time that we have a name change. Orang Ulu are Malay words. It is only fair that any new term is chosen by the community itself and not by others, as in the past.
Jane Liang Labang: I am not sure what Lun Daya means. Any proposal for a name change must be from the community and must be accepted by all.
Lawyer Richard Lah: I feel offended whenever people call me Orang Ulu. The word orang is degrading. We were always referred to as natives (He means primitive). The term 'Orang Ulu' does not exist in the constitutions of Sarawak and Malaysia . FORUM itself should not have been formed until after the name change.
amdeesidik: I don’t see anything wrong being called Orang Ulu. The Kadayan people used to be called Orang Darat, what better name was it compare to Orang Ulu, no different! When I was the President of Sabah Kadayan Association, I was just as important as chief minister, why do I have to feel inferior because of name.
Grace Dawn: I am sad about this rebranding proposal because I have been so very proud for being orang ulu. Like you said, we orang ulu had proved ourselves great.
Wilson Malang Anyie: I don't agree to change to any name unless it is "Maori" Australian, did they change their name? I don't think so.
Christhoper K. Knight (I said): 1. If you want something classic and all encompassing for the 30 Orang Ulu tribes in today’s Malaysia, the history probably can nominate one or two names. Lun Daya is a classic but it belongs to Orang Kalimantan, at least from my perspective. Orang Ulu is nearly all encompassing but it is ‘too hot’ for the rest of the Malaysians. They cannot display a correct attitude before the name. The rest of the country wants us to change the name.
2. Now that they want to change the name Orang Ulu, of course my personal experience with the name make me want to agree with the motion. And I agree with it, not because I don’t like name Orang Ulu but because other Malaysians don’t like the name Orang Ulu.
3. Three reasons why name Orang Ulu must be dropped: Firstly, because we created it in 1969 out of nowhere. Secondly, because we CAN change the name without it diminishing our value. Lastly, because we are not orang ulu.
4. It’s not as if we are not proud of our origin. That’s not the question here. It’s not as if we want to discard our race out of embarrassment. That’s not the case here. We are Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit or Lun Bawang. Yesterday, today and tomorrow that is our tribes, banded together under label Orang Ulu. If we could change the label Orang Ulu to make the label a better representation of the type of people we are, would you not want to be modify the label. Just the label.
To Dennis Ngau, YB Lihan Jok and the FORUM, I say this: I cannot attend the symposium in April. But if my view and opinion matter to the board, and if I can accomplish something in my absence, please take my say here as a vote in favour to the name change. I cannot agree with LunDaya but if the symposium agree to it unanimously I will go with it, will rest my case and will embrace the new name.