The list of promotions, purportedly in the Sarawak Road Transport Department, which was posted on a blog on Dayak interests. – November 30, 2014.
The Malaysian Insider: Passed over for promotions, Sarawak Dayaks seethe at civil service discrimination
By Desmond Davidson

Published 30 November 2014

A list of promotions, purportedly in the Sarawak Road Transport Department, has sparked outrage among Dayak professionals and civil servants in the state over what they see as proof of discrimination against non-Malay Bumiputeras in the federal civil service.

The list, which has been posted on a blog and on Facebook, names eight Malay enforcement officers as “berjaya” (successful) in securing promotions from the N27 scale to N32, while three Dayak officers were listed as “simpanan”, or reserve.

To Dayaks – as Sarawak's indigenous people are called – the list confirms what they have felt all along and what has also been noted in the just-released Malaysia Human Development Report 2013 – that discrimination exists within the Bumiputeras working in the civil service, with Malays given preference over natives.

The list was posted on November 25 on www.pengerindu.com, a blog on Dayak interests which has a wide following among Ibans, a branch of the Dayak people.

“Dayaks are only qualified to become 'reserves' until when? I fear the 'tsunami of young Dayaks' could undermine the Sarawak government if nothing is done to help the Dayaks," wrote the author of the post, Mr J.

The post, which has been shared on Facebook, drew sarcastic and angry comments, such as Mijin Asong's, whose original posting in the Iban language translates to "Pity us Ibans to be listed like that... this is clearly religious nepotism".

Another Facebook user, Cobbold John, said Dayaks were "pemain simpanan (reserve players)”, while one called Ribi Rayang said: “That is the reality".

She also joked that the abbreviation "AK" for "anak", (or son or daughter of in traditional Dayak names) actually stood for "Awak Kemudian (you later)".

Civil service recruitment

The Ibans, the largest Dayak ethnic group, make up about 60% of Sarawak's population. Chinese are 25.4% and Malays 22.2%.

The Malaysia Human Development Report, however, showed that federal civil service departments had hired Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputeras at "lower than their population share".

In 2009, 6.5% of Bumiputeras from Sabah, or 2,170, and 4.9% from Sarawak, or 1,631, were hired in federal departments, the report said, citing statistics from the Implementation and Coordination Unit in the Prime Minister's Department.

This was lower than their population share at 11% for Sabah and 8.7% for Sarawak.

In the earlier years of the New Economic Policy (NEP) from 1970 and 1985, three quarters of new public service jobs went to Malays, with top positions going to Malays, the report added.

“Among bureaucrats holding the most senior government posts, 80% were Malays and 6.3% were Chinese.

“While there is no data available for Sarawak and Sabah (for that period), an examination of the list of senior government officers in the state and statutory bodies reveals a similar trend.

“It is only in the police, armed forces and resident/district offices do we see a better representation of other ethnic groups.

“It is safe to say that very little has changed since the NEP period,” stated the report, which was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme.

By 2005, data as of June that year showed that "Other Bumiputeras" – the term used by the government to denote non-Malay, non-Muslim Bumiputeras – only made up 7.8% of the civil service.

Malays, meanwhile, had the highest portion at 77.04%.

But the report also acknowledged that steps had been taken to increase the non-Malay Bumiputeras representation in the civil service, and that there had been an increase in recent years.

"Emphasis in the future, now should now aim to strengthen representation at the management and professional levels," it said, warning that if not addressed, such imbalances could lead to "increased racial polarisation and perceived discrimination in our civil service".

In 2012, figures from the Public Service Department showed that there were 1.36 million civil servants, of whom 88.9% or 1.2 million were Bumiputeras, but this was not broken down into Malay and non-Malay Bumiputeras.

Keeping to the Malaysia Agreement

Despite the acknowledged increase, the effect on the ground has not been fully felt.

Sarawak's outspoken minister, Tan Sri Dr James Masing said the NEP, which was meant to give priority to Bumiputeras in the civil service, had failed to include non-Malay Bumiputeras.

“When the NEP was created, it was done with the correct and noble intention. It was to give Bumiputeras, the most disadvantaged group in Malaysia at that time, a launch pad to move forward.”

The federal government has also neglected its promise under the Malaysia Agreement to ensure that Sabah and Sarawak natives take charge of the federal civil service in their states, he added.

"If we consider the promised Borneonisation of the Sarawak civil service, then Dayak communities get a raw deal.

"Dayaks deserve more. We have the numbers. We have the necessary qualifications. The federal civil service mustn't marginalise us in civil service recruitment," Masing told The Malaysian Insider.

"Borneonisation" of the public service refers to the point in Sabah and Sarawak's agreement at the formation of Malaysia that indigenous people from these states would be appropriately represented in the civil service.

PKR's Ali Biju, the assemblyman for Saratok, agreed that Putrajaya ought to uphold this point in the Malaysia Agreement.

“It seems to have ended as the Malay-nisation of the civil service," Ali said.

Ali, an Iban, said young Dayak professionals and graduates “felt marginalised”, and the posting of the promotions list, as well as the Malaysia Human Development Report, have only served to confirm the Dayaks' suspicions that such discrimination had been happening.

“We have long suspected it and we believe it is happening at all levels of the civil service, from the top to the lowly jobs.

“We are the largest ethnic group in the state and the number of Dayaks in the federal civil service does not reflect that," he said.

Masing, meanwhile, urged Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun to ensure that more Sabah and Sarawak natives were not only recruited into the public service but given higher posts according to their capabilities. Entulu is the MP for Selangau, in Sarawak.

"The Public Service Department is under his ministerial purview... it is my hope that he will look at recruitment along these lines to remedy the imbalance," Masing said. – November 30, 2014.

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