PONTIANAK: The Dayak communities of Sabah and Sarawak will collaborate with their peers in West Kalimantan to set up the inaugural Borneo Forum, which aims to consolidate socio-economic ties within this extensive community.
Kadazandusun leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, said the move will see the beginning of many things.
“There will not only be greater cultural and social interactions but also economic and other interactions which will be helpful for the future,” he said.
Kitingan was speaking at a dinner hosted by Dewan Adat Dayak of West Kalimantan in Pontianak in conjunction with the Gawai Dayak festival and its 25th anniversary.
Kitingan led a 25-member delegation from Sabah and Sarawak to the celebrations. Among those in the delegation were Daniel Tajem and officials of the Sarawak Dayak National Union.
Apart from attending the opening of Gawai Dayak by the Governor of West Kalimantan Drs Cornelis on May 20, Kitingan and Tajem also attended discussions on the set-up of Borneo Forum with their counterparts.
The forum, scheduled to be launched in Kuching later this year, is seen as a vital link uniting the Dayaks of Borneo.
In an exclusive interview with the FMT, Kitingan, who is also the forum chairman, said their visit to Pontianak was significant.
“Now we are connected and we feel we belong to one people. We need to agree to work together,” he said.
“Our visit here, I think, is an important motivation. It will be the beginning of many things to come,” he added.
On calls by the leaders of Dewan Adat Dayak for one Borneo, one Dayak, one culture, Kitingan said: “I think we all agree on that. The meaning is more than that.
“The immediate focus is on unity through culture, because it cuts across boundaries. Our networking, friendship and the rest will develop from here,” he said.
Kitingan described the forum as important to create a Borneo-wide vehicle to map out what can be done immediately, in the long- or medium-term.
“I think a lot more interactions and communication can be developed, and for sure we can link up economically through business and many potential opportunities of cooperation.
“We have culture, environment, the economy and the indigenous rights.
“All these will automatically develop from here,” he said, adding that that the Dayaks of Borneo have a rich culture that can be marketed to the world.
“It is important that we market our culture together,” he said.