KUCHING — Batang Sadong Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri today denied that she gave a directive to a village headman not to invite Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo to a Gawai Dayak celebration planned for May 31.
She said the village headman Sili Bunsi had consulted her on the invitation to Gobind to attend the celebration at Kampung Sungai Buluh in Batang Sadong parliamentary constituency.
“The headman voiced his concerns to me and solicited for my opinion on the matter. I shared with him my opinion that if he was uncomfortable hosting the Gawai Dayak celebration with the minister, he can always proceed with the usual ways of celebrating the annual Gawai Dayak,” she told a press conference.
“Ultimately I have re-emphasised to the headman that the final decision on who to invite rests with him and he should make a decision that he himself is most comfortable with.
“I have never imposed anything to the headman as alleged,” she said when dismissing allegations by a former journalist Joseph Sipi on his Facebook on May 10.
Nancy said Sipi’s allegation could damage her reputation as a member of parliament and as a politician.
“In that post, it was alleged that I have, in my capacity as Batang Sadong MP, issued a directive to one Tuai Rumah (headman) of Kampung Sungai Buluh, Sili Bunsi, to force cancel the Gawai ceremony to welcome Gobind,” she said.
Nancy said Sipi had also accused her, being a non-Dayak, with suggestive questions implying that she was interfering with the decisions of the headman on who should be invited to the Gawai celebration.
She also denied that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is politicising Gawai Dayak celebration.
“Gawai Dayak is a celebration of harvest by the Dayak community. I strongly believe that it should be free of political issues and I am deeply saddened by Sipi’s act which has the effect of turning what otherwise a jovial celebration into a political conflict.
“It seems to me that reckless politicking has arrived on our shores and in my constituency Batang Sadong,” Nancy said, adding that she was obligated to address this issue as it could breed unwanted hatred.
“I call for all parties to foremost respect the rule of law and to cherish the harmonious relationship among various ethnic groups by being responsible with their words and statements,” she said.
Sili, who was also present at the press conference, said he decided to cancel the celebration at his longhouse because he did not want the celebration to be politicised.
“It is not the decision of our MP. We certainly don’t accept those from Pakatan Harapan to celebrate Gawai in my longhouse because we are scared that they will politicise the celebration,” he said.
Sili recalled that some time ago Gobind’s special administrative officer Dr Dusit Jaul came to see him proposing to have a pre-Gawai celebration at his longhouse on May 31.
“But when I heard from them that those who would be invited were from Peninsular Malaysia, including Gobind, and not the state leaders, I did not immediately agree with the proposal,” he said.
Sili said he brought the proposal to a meeting with the people of his longhouse and they all objected to having the celebration at the longhouse with Gobind and other peninsula Malaysian leaders present.
“We do not want to make enemies of the people from Peninsular Malaysia, but the state leaders should also be invited,” Sili said, pointing out that Batang Sadong is a GPS stronghold.
“That is why I have decided to cancel the celebration,” he said.