Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Batang Ai By-election Part 3---An Evening With YB Tian Chua

Tian Chua taking pictures before leaving on a long boat to an Iban longhouse in the interior of Batang Ai.

Changing to wear rubber slippers before boarding the long boat.

Finally seated, he was looking around to take more pictures of the colourful long boats.

A local PKR member with the party flag spearheading our party of 3 long boats cruising to an Iban longhouse at Engkari,about an hour journey crossing the huge Batang Ai lake.

Engkari is a traditional stronghold of the opposition, with Mr. Nicholas Bawin as the leader. Nicholas was leading our entourage which also included several Journalists and leaders of PKR Sarawak.

Upon arrival at the jetty, we saw this pig which had been sacrified to provide a wonderful dinner for the visiting guests.

Some PKR members welcoming the guests.

The longhouse folks were already busy preparing food when we arrived. This lady was cooking rice over a fire. Although electricity is available by way of generator, most households still use wood to cook because diesel to run the generator is not cheap and is sometime scarce.

The men were busy slaughtering the pig and removing the animal's hair after burning it over a fire in an open space behind the longhouse.

Cutting the meat into smaller pieces for easy cooking.

Dinner was ready. Just harvested hill rice to go with 2 different dishes of pork and egg soup. Tian Chua and the rest of the guests were given the honour to dine inside the Tuai Rumah's (headman) house. Every one of us was hungry and in just a short time,we emptied every single dish.

Soon after the dinner, it was time for political ceramah ( gathering for political forum/discussion) The above lady is Ibi Anak Uding, Ketua Wanita (Women Chief) of PKR Sarawak.

Other speakers included the Tuai Rumah (above) and an ex-councillor (below).

Baginda Minda, former PRS (Parti Raykat Sarawak) Publicity Chief for Balleh Branch is a hilarious speaker. He caused a furore last year with a statement accusing Sarawak's dominant party, PBB, as a bully and subsequently resigned from PRS. He has since joined PKR. A search for Baginda's personal information reveal a very interesting fact. He was a witness in Anuar Ibrahim's 1988 corruption trail and he testified under oath that he had sexual intercourse with Uxx while both were guests of Dato Sgn Chee Hua in London.

Nicholas Bawin was made Director Of Operations for the Batang Ai by-election after PKR decided on their candidacy of 5-time former Lubok Antu MP, Jawah Gerang.Nicholas was narrowly defeated by former Batang Ai assemblyman, Datuk Dublin Unting of PRS with a slim majority of 806 votes in the 2006 Sarawak state election. Batang Ai is an Iban-majority seat with 8006 registered voters.

The final speaker for the night was Tian Chua, MP for Batu and PKR National Publicity Chief. It was his first visit to an Iban longhouse in this area and most ordinary people do not know him.

I woke up early the next morning to take these pictues from the varendah of the longhouse.The tranquility of the morning was broken by the engine sound of this long boat (below) passing through the Batang Ai lake.

This is a new 10-door longhouse, separated from the original 23-door longhouse where we were staying for the night.According to the Tuai Rumah, about 20 people died one after another in mysterious circumstances several years ago. These 10 families decided to leave their mother longhouse and build new homes across the lake. It was a correct decision as their move miraculously ended further unexplained death in the longhouse.

The 23-door mother longhouse now has only 13 families. The 10 empty rooms remain, one of them apparently taken up temporarily by several police personnel stationed there to monitor the election.

4 stretcher beds belonging to the police were also found in the common varendah.One of them was still soundly asleep after I had been taking pictures for an hour in the morning.
Bags of newly harvested padi in the ruai (common varendah).

A small group of villagers gathered for discussion before the breakfast.

Tian Chua managed a smile just after waking up. He looked tired, probably without sufficient and proper sleep.But he had slept noisily throughout the night which made me almost wanting to take pictures of him snoring.During breakfast we got to know each other better with very frank and direct exchange of ideas and information. I was particularly interested to know about his active involvement in refomasi, his association with Anuar Ibrahim in the failed attempt to grab power on 916 (September 16, 2008) through defections of elected BN members (especially his mission to Taiwan to meet BN members whom were arranged to leave the country to avoid 916) and the current political and constitutional crisis in Perak.He claimed to speak the truth but unfortunately I am not able to share with you here due to the sensitiveness of the issues.

After a simple breakfast of coffee and milo with biscuits, we left the longhouse to Lubok Antu Town.

The morning was still cool as the sun just started rising up slowly from behind the mountains. Exciting long shadows of the rubber trees on the concrete foot path leading to the jetty invited us to take more pictures of the place before departure.

The controversial 46-year old politician is in the news again this morning. He was late yesterday afternoon to attend a court case against him for biting a policeman on December 11, 2007 while trying to deliver a memorandum to parliament. Tian Chua apologised to Magistrate Faize Che Abu that he was late due to being held up in heavy traffic.Charged under section 332 of the Penal Code,it provides up to 3 years jail or fine or both if convicted.Wish him good luck and he can win the case because the prosecution had forgotten to conduct any test on the saliva left behind on the bite marks found on the shirt of the victim!.If you wish to know more about this man, read it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tian_Chua


DeePo said...


i dun think bcoz of diesel's price the longhouse folks still using wood to cook...but merely bcoz using wood is one of the ADAT....

literally meaning....culture and part of to preserve the TABOO....some longhouses have these types of cooking place bcoz it's part of the ADAT....if u want to stop using wood...you have to undergo several ''upacara''....

and some more...the dish cook suing wood is more healthy and delicious than using petronas gas which cause some uncomfortable smell....

-eiling- said...

i would have probably rolled off the bed! It's so small. And pity the pig.

sarawakiana said...

The Batang Ai area is still so pristinely clean and undisturbed by economic progress!! The Ibans there are still living the same lifestyle as most of them did in 1970's. so many of the photos remind me of the Ibans' way of life in 1970's kanowit. It is indeed a far cry from IT connectivity and microwave ovens.

thanks again for the "shuttering and shuddering" exposure.

Bengbeng said...

Thanks so much for yrs and Steve's coverage of the issue

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Anwar and Tian Chua conveyed the message to the Ibans, as language is a problem here. Even many of us in Sarawak could not understand Iban. Iban should become popular as it must be the second most commonly used language in Sarawak (the first is Chinese??).

Philip said...

Deepo: Thanks for your interesting info.And I totally agree with you anything cooked by firewood or charcoal is healthier and more delicious.

eiling: Roll off the bed or the boat? It's torturing to ride in the small boat and also sleep on the hard wooden floor.Hey, without that pig, we would only have egg soup for dinner!

Sarawakiana: Many longhouses in Batang Ai, especially those near to the road side are already very modern.

Bengbeng: Welcome. Steve will be stationed in Batang Ai until 8/4.

Anon:I think there is no language gap...the majority of the Iban in Batang Ai can speak and understand Bahasa Malaysia.

catherine said...

I think your blog is very very cool.
You are showing the realities of the longhouse lifestyle.
I really like the honesty of your photos.

t qs.