Ng Beguang New Chapter

The winds of change were blowing in my longhouse, Rumah Masam Nanga Beguang Song. At the start of new year the elders of the longhouse came to meet ('beraum')at the KEMAS building to close the year 2005. Perhaps I would highlight this so that those who are not very familiar with what makes a longhouse tick can appreciate how longhouse folks manage themselves. Since we all live in the urban areas now, we are rarely aware of the longhouse setting. Until our longhouses are connected, the Digital Gap that continues to widen our people's access to knowledge resources also widens. It creates a new knid of poverty - Knowledge Poverty. I was lucky to be able to join the meeting to learn a thing or two.

The Chairman of the JKKK (Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan) or the Development and Security Committee is usually the Headman (tuairumah) of the longhouse. There he is assisted by a deputy ('Mandar'), a Secretary and Treasurer, along with the head of Committees (also known as 'Biro' - similiar to bureau). There are several Committees (Education, Security, Economy, Health & Cleanliness, Political Advisor etc). This is usually the format prepared by the District Office which has to be followed.

The meeting was conducted in a very formal manner with a structured agenda and the attendance was good. Almost all of the 49 families (pintu) were there - most them whom I grew up with - now heading their own family. The existing JKKK sat on a long table facing the longhouse folks. It was heartening to note that the JKKK members were qualified people - one was the head of KEMAS Kapit, Education Office, former teachers and former councillors.

Today's meeting was a bit different as the present Tuairumah Masam (who has been the headman for more than ten years) wishes to relinquish his Chairmanship due to health reasons. Thus the meeting included the change of guards including the present JKK members. It was a very democratic process and the voting involved a show of hands from the longhouse folks. A few of the tuairumah candidates proposed by the outgoing Tuairumah Masam backed down citing the job is a heavy burden. It has to be noted that to be a tuairumah, one has to be a resident of the longhouse - meaning, if you work outside the longhouse area, you cannot be tuairumah. In the end it came down to a former teacher, Encik Richard Nujong Abit who accepted the position and the challenge as he has already quit his teaching post a few years ago and is now looking after the fish ponds and rubber estate at Ng Beguang. In his speech along with his new JKKK members (most of whom were retained from the old JKKK), he gave an inspiring speech about forgiveness, forgetting the past, need for a change in attitude and the outlook for 2006.

The meeting lasted for almost four hours - all areas were touched including the aspirations of our present leaders, our present government and local representatives. The JKKK got a representative from the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). Encik George Gawing Abit to head the Biro Politik which would enhance more two way communications with the Iban leaders in Kuching. The JKKK sees this as a positive step for Ng. Beguang's Future Development.

JKK members

Longhouse folks attending the meeting - they use laptop and LCD projector to show the pictures of other modern longhouses and their achievements. The briefing on setting up a 'Healthy Village' or 'Kampung Sihat' was given by Mr. Ambrose, KEMAS Head from Kapit who is also a resident of the longhouse.

The new Tuai Rumah giving his maiden speech

Thus it will also mean a change in the name of the longhouse from Rumah Masam to Rumah Richard. More updates will be given on the development of how this longhouse manages itself to face the challenges that lies ahead, so stay tuned.


Uchu Keling said…
Congrats to Richard Nujong Abit!