Quieter Telang Usan due to migration: Chief

http://www.theborneopost.com/?p=56533

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Quieter Telang Usan due to migration: Chief
By Mary Francis

MIRI: The scenario absent from home for years has been a major problem in many longhouses in the Telang Usan constituency with about 40 to 50 per cent of the more than 20,000 inhabitants abandoning their homes.

One example, said Laing Jok, was the Long Bedian village in the far reaches of upper Baram which has 15 blocks of longhouses.

The longhouses were once quite merry with every bilik (household room) occupied.

However, as years went by, the number of residents began to dwindle as they started to move out and find their way to the towns.

The longhouses left behind suddenly become a quiet and sorry place to see. The once happy atmosphere has now changed to a solemn state, he said.

Laing, the Orang Ulu community chief of Telang Usan, was met by The Borneo Post recently for comments on the problems of longhouses in his area being deserted by residents who have migrated to the urban areas.

Telang Usan used to have more than 20,000 people from about 40 villages belonging to the Kayans, Kenyahs, Kelabits, Berawans, Penans and other minority groups.

Now the figure is much lower and mostly elderly folk, according to Laing.

He said the only consolation is that most of these people who have moved to the towns said they would still return one day. However, he said what saddens him most is that some of the empty bilik have not been visited by their owners for some years already.

I would like to call upon some of these villagers to come home at least once a year to look up your bilik, he said.

He said these people should at least come home during festive seasons to help plan the future development of their villages.

He said he cannot say for sure if longhouse life will be able to withstand the changing times.

In fact, he said, he is worried that in the years to come if there are no jobs appealing enough in the villages all the young people will be looking for jobs in towns and not come home when they have found good life in their new-found homes.

He said it would seem to him that the Ibans are more loyal to their longhouses, hardly ever failing to come home at least during Gawai.

Jok said: I wonder why we cannot do like the Iban do. Why cant our people come home every Christmas?.

Telang Usan consists of 17 Kayan villages and about 20 Kenyah villages spread from Long San to Lio Mato, the last village.

The villages are situated along Sungai Apoh, Sungai Tinjar and Sungai Baram.

Sungai Apoh covers four villages Long Bemang, Long Wat, Long Atip and Long Bedian; Sungai Tinjar Long Spiling, Long Maro, Lubuk Kulat and Long Tran; Sungai Baram Long Lama, Long Laput, Sungai Dua, Seri Kenawan, Uma Bawang, Long Miri, Long Pilah, Long Kesih, Long Naaha, Long Liam and Long Tebungan the most remote village in Sungai Akal, upper Baram.

According to Laing, the majority of those who have migrated chose Miri as their new home, while the rest go to Marudi and Bintulu.