The mediated production of ethnicity and nationalism among the Iban of Sarawak (II), 1977-1997.In the first installment of this two-part research note (Postill 2001), I retraced the early history of modern Iban media production in Sarawak from 1954 to 1976. I stressed the centrality of the Iban language The Iban language is spoken in Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo) and the Sarawak state region of Malaysia by the Iban, a branch of the Dayak ethnic group (formerly known as "Sea Dayak"). to Radio Sarawak broadcasters and Borneo Literature Bureau (BLB BLB Blue Letter Bible
BLB Bayerische Landesbank (German)
BLB Black Light Blue (lamp)
BLB Bacterial Leaf Blight
BLB Black Light Bulb (UV lamp) ) authors in their struggle to preserve and modernize the Iban heritage. This ethnonationalist project was to be crippled in 1977 when the Malaysian government closed down the BLB and brought in Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Malay for The Institute of Language and Literature) (abbreviated DBP) is the government body responsible for coordinating the use of the Malay language in Malaysia and Brunei. , a federal agency in charge of promoting the national language. In what follows I cover a second phase of Iban media production, from 1977 to 1997--the year of a region-wide financial crisis whose consequences for Sarawak media are still to be evaluated. This second phase would witness a growing Malaysianization of the media in Sarawak, with television replacing radio as the staple of evening entertainment in both urban and rural areas. At the same time, the town of Sibu replaced the Saribas basin as the twin heartland, with Kuching, of an expanding Iban culture industry. I discuss the consequences of this shift below (see also Postill 2002b). Meanwhile, Kuching remained the capitol of official, elite-driven Iban culture.
With the demise of the BLB and the rapid spread of Malay-language rural schools and television, the Iban Section of Radio Television Malaysia (RTM (1) (RealTime Model) Refers to a system or architecture that performs operations in real time. See real time.
(2) (Release/Released To M ) was the sole Iban-language medium of any import remaining in the 1980s. In 1980, after the communist threat had been finally quelled, the Psychological Warfare psychological warfare
Use of propaganda against an enemy, supported by whatever military, economic, or political measures are required, and usually intended to demoralize an enemy or to win it over to a different point of view. It has been carried on since ancient times. Unit at RTM was dissolved. The main focus at the Iban Section was then the phasing out of slash-and-burn hill rice farming to give way to "modern" agricultural practices. Interviews with successful cash crop farmers were a preferred method of persuasion. Other important areas were health, education, poverty and job vacancies. The purported aim was to change the rural population's conservative "mind-set." Meanwhile, the Iban component of school broadcasting was undergoing fundamental changes. In the place of Michael Buma's spelling, dictation and traditional tales (ensera), more elaborate grammar-based Iban language lessons were now being broadcast to primary and lower secondary pupils. (1) This improvement must be set, however, against a far more transcendent 1980s shift: the establishment of Malay as the sole medium of instruction across the state school system in the place of English. Both these changes were the consequence of the extension of the Education Act of 1976 to Sarawak, which required the creation of new school syllabi syl·la·bi
A plural of syllabus. set according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Ministry of Education guidelines. A further expansion in airtime at RTM occurred in the early 1980s with the launching of Sunday programs in Iban and two more hours in the evening from Monday to Saturday. The next increase was to arrive a decade later, with two more hours in the morning. Henceforth the total airtime would be set at 66 hours a week, with 9 hours a day from Monday to Saturday and 12 hours on Sundays. In 1993 new studios were built and modern equipment acquired. Two years later, some important changes in programming took place. First, the soap operas This is a list of Soap operas by country of origin. Argentina
In 1997 Sarawak's first privately-owned commercial radio station, CATS (3) Radio, was launched. Its mission was to capture a wide audience across the state through "light entertainment," especially music. It had an Iban Section run by an RTM veteran and former intelligence officer, Roland Duncan Klabu, transmitting two hours a day: from 1 to 2 pm Monday to Friday, from 3 to 4 on Sunday and from midnight to 1 am seven days a week. To maximize his one-hour afternoon slot, Klabu opted for the "hot-clock system," consisting of a five-minute news bulletin and a motley of capsules, Iban pop songs, local reports, farming tips and suchlike such·like
Of the same kind; similar.
Persons or things of such a kind.
such or similar things: shampoos, talcs, and suchlike . He made no bones about the true purpose of these broadcasts. The program, he explained, was "literally bought by a number of record companies seeking to promote Iban pop songs throughout Sarawak" (Klabu 1998:2). The most prominent figure to emerge was undoubtedly Peter John anak Apai, (4) an Iban DJ who became hugely popular overnight with his personal brand of daft humor and ability to communicate on air with callers from all walks of life. Peter John was an inveterate inveterate /in·vet·er·ate/ (-vet´er-at) confirmed and chronic; long-established and difficult to cure.
1. Firmly and long established; deep-rooted.
2. connector of two disparate yet overlapping worlds: rural and urban Iban life. CATS offered an amusing, hybrid alternative to a more sober RTM Iban service. Also, its crystal clear FM sound made listening a more pleasurable experience than RTM's crackling short wave transmission.
Peter John notwithstanding, Iban-language broadcasting was caught up in a wider social and political malaise. Educated Iban felt that the crisis of the Iban Section reflected both the erosion and eventual demise of the Iban language and culture. With this bleak prognosis in mind and a sense of urgency, in April 1998 the Council for Customary Law (Majlis Majlis (مجلس) is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting" used to describe various types of formal legislative assemblies in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries. Adat Istiadat) in Kuching ran a one-day workshop on the current situation and future prospects of Iban-language broadcasting. The workshop, which I was fortunate to co-organize, was held almost entirely in the Iban language, a rare event in Kuching (5). The morning session was led by Empeni Lang, Chief Registrar of the Native Court. It was devoted to identifying the key problems besetting be·set·ting
Constantly troubling or attacking.
adjective chronic Iban-language broadcasting. Perhaps inevitably, most of the subsequent discussions centered on the Iban Section at RTM to the detriment of CATS and BTP (Business Transaction Protocol) An XML-based protocol from OASIS that adds the type of validation to transactions in a Web services environment that are normally performed by the two-phase commit within an enterprise. (School Broadcasting). The following 15 key RTM problems were identified and summarized by the workshop facilitator:
1. No clear aims or objectives. (6)
2. Insufficient audience research. (7)
3. Not enough manpower. (8)
4. Not enough money. (9)
5. No code of ethics Code of Ethics can refer to:
6. Poor infrastructure and facilities. (11)
7. No supporting prim media. (12)
8. No full-time women employees. (13)
9. Poor quality of transmission. (14)
10. Low command of Iban among broadcasters. (15)
11. Unpleasant voices. (16)
12. Programs not properly edited.
13. Less traditional programs than before.
14. Low levels of professionalism.
15. Flawed recruitment process. (17)
In addition, the following concerns about the Iban Section were voiced during the workshop or in private conversations elsewhere:
1. External interferences, both from Iban and Peninsular political quarters. (18)
2. Poor leadership within the Iban Section.
3. Too many phone-in programs replacing the forums, dramas, magazines and features of previous decades.
4. Growing competition from CATS, other commercial radio stations from West Malaysia West Malaysia: see Malaysia. , television, etc.
5. Some programs broadcast too late for rural audiences.
6. No programs for women (cf. no. 8 above).
7. No programs for children and teenagers.
8. As a result of all the above: a highly demoralized de·mor·al·ize
tr.v. de·mor·al·ized, de·mor·al·iz·ing, de·mor·al·iz·es
1. To undermine the confidence or morale of; dishearten: an inconsistent policy that demoralized the staff. staff.
Although pushed to the margins of the workshop discussions, we should also mention the other two branches of Iban-language broadcasting: School Broadcasting and CATS Radio. School Broadcasting (renamed Bahagian Teknologi Pendidikan [BTP]) is also facing an uphill struggle. The excitement of the early years surrounding the educational possibilities of radio has turned into bitter disappointment. For one thing, few schools in the urban areas teach Iban. In Kuching there is but one school, St. Mary's Secondary School St. Mary's Secondary School can refer to:
1. Programs hard to fit into the exam-oriented, textbook-based school syllabus.
2. Poor reception in many "shadow areas."
3. No Iban language teacher in the school.
4. Radio set out of order (Untie 1998: 4).
Finally, CATS has also come under attack since its launching for some of its presenters' low level of competence in the Iban language. One rumor had it that one of them, who had never experienced longhouse longhouse
Traditional communal dwelling of the Iroquois Indians until the 19th century. The longhouse was a rectangular box built out of poles, with doors at each end and saplings stretched over the top to form the roof, the whole structure being covered with bark. life, (20) was relieved from her newsreading duties following complaints from listeners. To compound matters, this station's Iban programs were often seen as a mere channel for the Chinese-dominated Iban music industry of Sibu, as Klabu himself recognized.
In the afternoon, the workshop participants sought practical solutions to the problems identified. In the end, they adopted 12 resolutions that generally followed from the enunciation enunciation
n an auxiliary function of teeth, particularly those in the anterior sector of the dental arch; the formation of sounds of the problems, e.g. the need for clear objectives, a more balanced programming, better training, etc. One interesting suggestion that went beyond the purview The part of a statute or a law that delineates its purpose and scope.
Purview refers to the enacting part of a statute. It generally begins with the words be it enacted and continues as far as the repealing clause. of the workshop was the need to create an official body to strengthen the Iban language through standardization, research and other means.
The history of Iban-language broadcasting is therefore long and eventful. For decades it has not only served the government of the day with unflagging loyalty but has also contributed, in some measure, to the standardization and preservation of the Iban language and culture across Sarawak. The Iban Section of Radio Sarawak (now RTM) has served the state well: it fought Indonesia in the 1960s, the communists in the 1970s and what the state defined as the (backward) "rural mind-set" from the 1980s onwards. At present, however, the state has other priorities. Among the most pressing of these is to build a strong, unified national culture based on the Malay language Malay language: see Malayo-Polynesian languages.
Austronesian language with some 33 million first-language speakers in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and other parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. and traditions. The host of problems affecting all three Iban-language radio organizations (RTM, CATS and BTP) can all be linked to a chronic weakness: the lack of adequate political representation of the Iban and other non-Muslim indigenous groups (Jawan Noun 1. jawan - (India) a private soldier or male constable
Bharat, India, Republic of India - a republic in the Asian subcontinent in southern Asia; second most populous country in the world; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1947 1994:226-235).
There is, however, a more elusive problem facing producers: how to step out of their ideological certainties and recultivate the field of Iban media production. Melanesia provides us with a useful comparative vantage point. On the basis of her work in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (păp`ə, –y , Sullivan (1993: 551) has argued that the ideas and practices of media professionalism spread in parallel to the transfer of technology from the West to other regions. Quoting Keesing (1989:23), she adds that, across the Pacific islands, the ideologues who idealize i·de·al·ize
v. i·de·al·ized, i·de·al·iz·ing, i·de·al·iz·es
1. To regard as ideal.
2. To make or envision as ideal.
1. the past are usually "hell-bent on technology, progress, materialism and 'development.'" This observation applies equally well to Sarawak. The producers' faith in the potential of radio to transform their audiences given the right political, financial and professional resources has remained undiminished despite years of institutional stagnation Stagnation
A period of little or no growth in the economy. Economic growth of less than 2-3% is considered stagnation. Sometimes used to describe low trading volume or inactive trading in securities.
A good example of stagnation was the U.S. economy in the 1970s. . A case in point is the aforesaid Before, already said, referred to, or recited.
This term is used frequently in deeds, leases, and contracts of sale of real property to refer to the property without describing it in detail each time it is mentioned; for example,"the aforesaid premises. belief that positive messages can be directly "injected" into young listeners--what media scholars call the "hypodermic needle model The hypodermic needle model is a model of communications also referred to as the magic bullet perspective. Essentially, this model holds that an intended message is directly received and wholly accepted by the receiver. of communication" (see Morley 1992: 45, Watson and Hill 1993: 87). This confidence can be explained by the fact that most of them were trained in the 1960s and 1970s--a period of rapid economic growth, multi-ethnic nationalism, anti-communism and deep faith in the infinite possibilities of modern technology. Their urban careers developed amidst the growing disparities in wealth and status between urban educated Iban and their rural illiterate brethren. Yet this chasm was blamed on the latter's traditional "mind-set." Unlike indigenous media producers in Australia (see Ginsburg 1993), Iban producers are too embedded in the state's material and ideological apparatus to provide alternative visions. As trained government servants, they reproduce the views of what Debray (1996:176) calls the "mediocracy mediocracy
government or dominance of society by the médiocre.
See also: Society
government or dominance of society by the mediocre.
See also: Government ," i.e. the "elite holding the means of production Means Of Production is a compilation of Aim's early 12" and EP releases, recorded between 1995 and 1998. Track listing
1. Reaching out in several directions: a multidirectional campaign.
2. flows" of cultural influences holds little analytical promise. While it may apply to Chicago's intellectual diaspora, in the case of Iban radio the flow is unidirectional The transfer or transmission of data in a channel in one direction only. , from one or two urban corridors of media power to countless longhouse galleries and rooms.
Since the closure of the Borneo Literature Bureau a number of Iban books have been printed, most of them by a Kuching publisher named Klasik Publishing House, including two traditional ensera (Donald 1989, Tawai 1989) and five cherita kelulu or morality novellas This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by [ expanding it].
This is a selected list of novellas that have gained fame and/or critical and public acclaim. (Jantan 1987, Ensiring 1991, Ensiring 1992, Garai 1993, Bangit 1995). We met Janang Ensiring (1968) in the previous research note (Postill 2001) as a 19-year old poet infatuated in·fat·u·at·ed
Possessed by an unreasoning passion or attraction.
in·fatu·at with Malaysia. His 1992 novella novella: see novel.
Story with a compact and pointed plot, often realistic and satiric in tone. Originating in Italy during the Middle Ages, it was often based on local events; individual tales often were gathered into collections. Dr Ida deserves our attention for its innovative use of urban settings and problems--a clean departure from the BLB's bucolic preferences.
The second non-governmental print outlet for the Iban language today is provided by the first institutions ever to create texts in Borneo vernaculars: the Christian churches. The most successful religious texts appear to be those which have adopted a manner of "BLB strategy," that is, prayer books that seek to adapt the best of the Iban adat (in this case religious adat) to the essentially developmentalist Christian project. This dual strategy echoes those adopted in other Asia-Pacific societies. In Papua New Guinea, a European lay missionary in 1990 directed a television drama to teach villagers in a remote area new farming techniques. To Sullivan (1993: 537), this was part of a long missionary tradition of "co-opting indigenous values (of community, mutual obligation, kinship and sharing) as the teachings of Christ and in so doing distinguishing church from private interests while easing a transition from barbarism bar·ba·rism
1. An act, trait, or custom characterized by ignorance or crudity.
a. The use of words, forms, or expressions considered incorrect or unacceptable.
b. to a market economy." In Sarawak, as in other territories, the Catholic Church is ahead of rival denominations in its nativist-cure-modernist print media but has yet to use audiovisual media extensively, for reasons considered below. As Giddens (1984) has reminded us, social actions often have unintended effects. With the demise of the BLB, the Iban-language Christian texts have acquired greater significance as cultural repositories among the more literate Iban. This was surely not the intention of the authorities who are said to have ordered the destruction of the indigenous print media.
Two state-sponsored outlets for Iban authorship survived into the 1990s. One was Berita Rayat (21), a monthly magazine founded in 1974 by the Rajang Security Command (RASCOM RASCOM Regional African Satellite Communication Organisation ) in Sibu. This magazine was part of the government's efforts to defeat the Chinese-led communist insurgency in Sarawak's Third Division through military action and propaganda. The cover showed an Iban warrior in full ceremonial dress Ceremonial dress is the clothing worn for very special occasions, such as coronations, graduations, parades, religious rites, and trials. In the hierarchy of dress codes (e.g. performing a sword dance sword dance
Folk dance by men, with swords or two-handled blades, expressing themes such as human and animal sacrifice for fertility, battle mime, and defense against evil spirits. It originated in Greek and Roman times. (ajat). The contents were in the dual modernity-cum-tradition Nendak mould (Postill 2001), but with an added emphasis on "security." Like in Nendak, a wide spectrum of Iban genres was represented. There were morality tales (cherita kelulu), sagas (ensera), riddles (entelah), ethnohistorical accounts (jerita tuai), hagiographies of Iban leaders and even a cartoon strip featuring Roky, a young law-enforcing hero. Unfortunately for Roky's author, the negotiated end of the armed struggle would also mean the eventual phasing-out of Berita Rayat. Production ceased in the early 1990s.
The one extant Iban print medium in 1997 was Pembrita, a state government mouthpiece published monthly by the Information Department. (22) Pembrita is yet another Iban medium with an original Paku-Saribas connection, for it was the result of the pioneering Adult Literacy Scheme launched in 1950 in that river area (Jawan 1994: 183). Aimed at rural Iban, it is a profusely pro·fuse
1. Plentiful; copious.
2. Giving or given freely and abundantly; extravagant: were profuse in their compliments. illustrated newsletter containing two kinds of items: good developmental news (on exemplary longhouses, lucrative cash crops, animal husbandry animal husbandry, aspect of agriculture concerned with the care and breeding of domestic animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, hogs, and horses. Domestication of wild animal species was a crucial achievement in the prehistoric transition of human civilization from , etc.) and exhortations to the rural populace to modernize their ways, with a typical headline reading (in Iban): "FARMERS MUST CHANGE THEIR WORK HABITS." (23) Unlike Nendak and Berita Rayat, however, Pembrita contains no traditional genres, despite repeated appeals to the readers for such materials, in an apparent attempt to broaden the readership base of what the editors call "our Iban newspaper" (Surat Kabar kitai Iban). (24)
There is no such thing, however, as an Iban newspaper in the strict sense of the term. In 1996, eleven newspapers in other languages were published in Sarawak: seven in Chinese, three in English and one in Malay (see Table 2.6). A key constraint affecting all papers in Malaysia, and even more so in thinly populated states such as Sarawak, is the high cost of paper. In 1993 a ton of imported paper cost US $1,000 in Malaysia but only US $780 in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . A further problem for Malay-language papers both in East and West Malaysia is that advertisers tend to regard Malay readers as belonging to the low-income group, so advertising revenue is much lower than that for the English and Chinese dailies (Amir and Awang Jaya 1996: 13). Any fledgling Iban newspaper would have to overcome even more imposing barriers. One viable solution suggested to me by an urban Iban might be for one of the state's newspapers to carry a weekly Iban supplement, a practice already well-established in Sabah with the Kadazan language.
The state government controls virtually all papers in Sarawak. With the exception of one or two Chinese papers, writing favorably about any aspect of the much-diminished opposition is unheard of Not heard of; of which there are no tidings.
Unknown to fame; obscure.
See also: Unheard Unheard . On one noted occasion, a Sarawak Tribune The Sarawak Tribune is a Malaysian newspaper that was published in Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu, in Sarawak, Malaysia. It was established in 1945. It was last owned by Sarawak Press Sdn. Bhd. Its sister paper was the state Malay-language daily, Utusan Sarawak. editor was allegedly dismissed for publishing "the wrong picture" of a powerful politician. According to press insiders, it is always safe to write pro-development articles. Another safe area is "culture," that is, the colorful side of Dayak cultures: music, dance, garments, etc. The Sarawak daily press represents Dayaks in two radically different ways: (a) as camera-friendly "ethnics" with picturesque cultures in need of protection (and more tourism) or (b) as ignorant, backward peasants in need of enlightenment (and more development). (25) In both portrayals, which never appear together, scant allowance is made for the various ways in which actual Dayak agents may be making and remaking their social worlds.
The key to development, as seen by the mediocracy, is to get the rural Dayaks to change their collective "mind-set" (a favorite term) so that development can proceed swiftly. There are similarities here with the ideology of Andria Ejau and other Iban media producers from the earlier period (Postill 2001). The key difference is that Ejau's generation drew largely from first-hand experience in upriver areas and an intimate knowledge of the Iban language and culture. Today's journalists, by contrast, write from urban areas for an urban readership. Whilst Ejau and his contemporaries sought to blend culture and development in their texts (in pursuit of what today is known as "sustainable development Sustainable development is a socio-ecological process characterized by the fulfilment of human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural environment indefinitely. The linkage between environment and development was globally recognized in 1980, when the International Union "), journalists constantly drive a harsh wedge between the two domains. A recent example of the powerful interests behind this discursive wedge arose in 1987-1991, when a total of 30 Penan and other Dayak communities, including Iban longhouses, carried out anti-logging blockades in the Baram and Limbang districts. They were protesting against the destruction of the environment upon which their livelihood depended. The following extract sums up the role of the Sarawak press:
The stories by the Borneo Post were orchestrated based on government press releases ...; self-censorship by reporters was exercised to adjust to the media's organizational and official requirements. The only on-the-scene report the Borneo Post filed was on 21 July 1987, when the media escorted the State Minister for Tourism and Environment (who owns one of the largest timber concessions in Sarawak) to one of his timber camps in Limbang (Ngidang 1993:94).
In its 11 July 1987 editorial, the Borneo Post The Borneo Post, established in 1978, is the largest English-language daily newspaper on the island of Borneo. It is widely circulated in the Sultanate of Brunei and the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, all on the northern coast of the island. lamented the fact that development had been hindered "by two groups of people, namely the Penans and their allies and those who instigate To incite, stimulate, or induce into action; goad into an unlawful or bad action, such as a crime.
The term instigate is used synonymously with abet, which is the intentional encouragement or aid of another individual in committing a crime. people in rural areas to reject government efforts" (Ngidang 1993: 94). Sarawak newspapers are, in sum, at the service of the state government and their wealthy allies. Their modus operandi [Latin, Method of working.] A term used by law enforcement authorities to describe the particular manner in which a crime is committed.
The term modus operandi is most commonly used in criminal cases. It is sometimes referred to by its initials, M.O. reveals the extent to which Sarawak is a rich "resource frontier" (King 1988) in the hands of a small elite rather than a democracy. The chances of an Iban newspaper ever being produced, therefore, are severely limited by both the economies of scale required for it to be profitable, and by the same political imperatives that have led to the mass logging of Dayak forests and to the burning of Dayak books.
Sibu is the third largest town in Sarawak, but the second most important in terms of commerce, after Kuching. From 1974 on, the timber industry grew rapidly in the state, with Sibu as its hub (Leigh 1983: 164). This attracted large numbers of Iban to an urban setting where they were already well represented. (26) Many of the poorly educated Iban entered into patron-client relations with Chinese merchants (towkay) (Sutlive 1972:119). The same pattern was to prevail in the budding music industry of the late 1970s.
By far the most successful Sibu record company during the 1977-1997 period was Tiew Brothers Company, better known as TBC tbc abbr (= to be confirmed) → por confirmar
tbc abbr (= to be confirmed) → noch zu bestätigen
tbc abbr . Mathew Tiew Sii Hock hock: see wine. , a former salesman, and two of his brothers founded TBC in 1977. Initially they sought to market Malay albums but found the competition from Peninsular record companies to be too stiff, so they chose instead to market Iban pop. Following the initial success of Iban tapes, they began to release songs in Melanau, Kayan, Kenyah, Malay, and recently, Chinese. Iban has nevertheless remained TBC's mainstay. According to company sources, the uniqueness of Iban pop lies in its rojak ('mixed salad') melodies: a melange mé·lange also me·lange
A mixture: "[a] building crowned with a mélange of antennae and satellite dishes" Howard Kaplan. of Indonesian dangdut, global pop rock, heavy metal, Latin baladas and other styles, all performed to a peculiar Sibu-Chinese beat (27). On another level, however, Iban pop is far from unique. If in the 1950s it followed Indonesian and Indian patterns, and in the 1960s-1970s Western ones, since the 1980s it has increasingly aligned itself with musical trends arriving from West Malaysia and absorbed concepts and words from the national language. Middle-aged Iban critics say today's lyrics lack the subtlety and vigor of both 1960s Iban pop and the best contemporary Malay and Indonesian music. They see the lyrics as often being too "raunchy raun·chy
adj. raun·chi·er, raun·chi·est Slang
a. Obscene, lewd, or vulgar: "[He] ," and say that several have been banned from the radio. At any rate, these songs are politically safe: unlike some Indonesian popular culture, (28) Iban pop is about entertainment, not social critique. Most songs in my sample (94%) deal with the vagaries of the human heart, as Table 2.7. demonstrates.
William Awing sings: (31) Sepuloh taun dah lalu It's been ten years Tua nadai betemu Since we last met Tekenyit aku nerima surat nuan dara Couldn't believe your letter, girl Nuan mai aku nampong When you told me that you wanted Pengerindu tua To start once again Nama kebuah nuan How can you say Agi ka beguna aku That you still need me? Aku tu aku suba I'm still the one I used to be Ukai orang baru I'm not a new person
Very occasionally singers will follow the lead of their Radio Sarawak forebears and step out of their love grooves to reproduce the views of the Establishment. In the following verse, the immensely popular Andrewson Ngalai praises Sarawak while promoting a commercial alternative to slash-and-bum farming:
Rakyat diau sama senang ati The people all live merrily together Musuh nadai agi dikenangi Enemies are no longer remembered (32) Tanah besai alai endur betupi Plenty of land to rear livestock Lantang senang dudi ari So that one day we'll be happy
On other occasions, while still on the painful subject of love, they touch on current social problems, notably the inequalities wrought by education and migration (bejalai). Johnny Aman sings about the barriers of class and wealth now dividing the once egalitarian Iban society:
Malu amai asai ku dara I feel really ashamed, girl Kajadi enggau nuan I who wanted to marry you Enda diterima But was rejected Laban aku orang merinsa For being poor Nadai pemandai bekuli ngapa For being an ignorant coolie
And on the temptations of bejalai:
Baka aku ti bejalai I have to go away Ngiga belanja sulu To look for money, my darling nuan ti diau rumah panjai you're staying in the longhouse Bejaga diri selalu So look after yourself Bakajako orang bukai Don't listen to those nusi berita enda tentu who tell stories about me Anang nuan arap ambai Don't listen to them, my love Nya mina berita pelesu They're just lies Nadai aku kala asai Not once have I felt Ngayah ka nuan sulu Like betraying you, my darling
TBC has sponsored numerous song contests and "discovered" rising starlets, many of them young Iban from the Rejang basin. They publish an Iban-language magazine named Merindang ('Entertainment'), purchase ample airtime on CATS Radio and have launched a website to promote both their starlets and established singers. In the late 1990s the company boasted two recording studios--one fitted with analog equipment, the other with more advanced digital technology. (33) Their 1997 production was two albums a month. Besides cassette tapes, they produced karaoke videotapes and compact discs. Karaoke videos were significant as they provided the only regular audiovisual outlet for Iban artistes who seldom, if ever, appeared on television. Patterned on West Malaysian video clips, they were extremely popular at social gatherings in the longhouse and at public functions involving Iban leaders. The cassette and video cover illustrations project a dynamic urban persona devoid of any ethnic markers: the singers wear Western-style clothing and accessories (headband, sunglasses sunglasses A tinted pair of glasses used to ↓ light arriving at the eye, which are labeled according to the amount of UV light blocked; nonprescription glasses are classified according to use and amount of UV radiation blocked
Sunglasses , mobile phone) reminiscent of those worn by Sarawak's visiting Filipino artistes and other Southeast Asian entertainers.
Irama, another Sibu company, often uses exactly the opposite imagery, Irama produces both Iban pop songs (lagu Iban) and folk music folk music: see folk song.
Music held to be typical of a nation or ethnic group, known to all segments of its society, and preserved usually by oral tradition. Knowledge of the history and development of folk music is largely conjectural. (main asal), including taboh (gong and drum ritual music) and ramban (love songs). The performers are clad in traditional Iban costume and surrounded by Iban motifs. Modernity is nowhere to be seen. These tapes appear, however, to be less popular than TBC's. (34) In this connection, some Iban leaders and cultural organizations have decried the loss of the vast Iban musical heritage. (35) Suggestions have been made to introduce Bornean folk music in the Malaysian school curriculum (36) and the Dayak Cultural Foundation has announced the creation of a Dayak classical music orchestra. (37) At the same time, some leaders have called for tighter regulations in the pop music industry in order to protect the Iban singers from exploitation by (ethnic Chinese) middlemen, as well as official support to market their own tapes. (38) The Housing Minister, Datuk Celestine cel·es·tine
[German Zölestin, from Latin caelestis, celestial; see celestial.] Ujang, believes some Iban artists would be millionaires if they were given a fair share of the industry's profits. (39)
The thriving Sino-Iban music industry in Sibu is the outcome of a number of favorable circumstances: the expansion of the music industry in other parts of the Archipelago, the economic growth and diversification of the Sibu area in particular and Sarawak in general, an urbanizing Iban population with a growing demand for "modern" forms of entertainment that RTM was failing to provide, the old symbiotic symbiotic /sym·bi·ot·ic/ (sim?bi-ot´ik) associated in symbiosis; living together.
Of, resembling, or relating to symbiosis. relations of patronage/exploitation binding Sibu Chinese and Iban, and the entrepreneurial acumen of one particular Sibu family.
The invention of television (1931) preceded by several decades the invention of Malaysia, a political entity described by Anderson (1998) as a "hasty amalgam of Malaya, Singapore and the Bornean regions of Sarawak and Sabah" arranged by Whitehall. (40) Both Malaysia and Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) were born in 1963. Unlike the BBC BBC
in full British Broadcasting Corp.
Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927. , RTM was never intended to be a public service. Rather, it was to be a government service with a crucial mission, as it was regarded as "an important tool for facilitating or encouraging socio-economic development and for fostering national integration amongst the country's multi-ethnic peoples" (Anuar and Kim 1996: 262). Six years later, a second channel was launched. Its directives followed those for the first channel and remained unchanged into the 1990s:
1. to explain in-depth and with the widest possible coverage the policies and programs of the government in order to ensure maximum understanding by the public;
2. to stimulate public interest and opinion in order to achieve changes in line with the requirements of the government;
3. to assist in promoting civic consciousness and fostering the development of Malaysian arts and culture; and
4. to provide suitable elements of popular education, general information and entertainment (Nain 1996: 162).
Over the years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time realities of Malaysia's political life have tarnished these lofty ideals. Khoo (1995) gives three representative examples. In 1983, the populism populism
Political program or movement that champions the common person, usually by favourable contrast with an elite. Populism usually combines elements of the left and right, opposing large business and financial interests but also frequently being hostile to established of Dr. Mahathir, Malaysia's Prime Minister, was at its peak. As leader of the ruling coalition's dominant party, the United Malays National Organisation The United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO, (Malay: Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu), is the right-Wing and the largest political party in Malaysia and a founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country uninterruptedly since (UMNO UMNO United Malays National Organization (Malaysia) ), and undisputed national leader, he was able to mobilize the UMNO-owned newspapers, especially the New Straits Times Not to be confused with The Straits Times, the Singaporean newspaper.
The New Straits Times is a Malaysian English-language newspaper. It is Malaysia's oldest newspaper, having been founded as The Straits Times in 1845, and was reestablished as the " and Berita Harian Berita Harian (English: Daily News) is a major Malay language newspaper in Malaysia. Its Sunday Edition is called Berita Minggu. It was launched on 1 July 1957, the same year Malaysia received its independence. , to carry "reports, features, analyses and letters [...] slanted against the Malay royalty." In addition, the state-owned TV stations ran a series of Malay films on the rampant tyranny suffered by the people "under the Malay equivalents of the ancien regime an·cien ré·gime
1. The political and social system that existed in France before the Revolution of 1789.
2. pl. an·ciens ré·gimes A sociopolitical or other system that no longer exists. " (1995: 206-7). Second, in 1986 RTM screened an edited police videotape to discredit the opposition party, PAS (1995: 228). Finally, in 1988-89 the Lagu Setia (a song of loyalty to king and country, leaders and people, religion and race) was repeatedly broadcast over radio and television and sung at political, government and civic functions (1995: 321).
The late 1980s were marked by the increased authoritarianism of a vulnerable Mahathir. His ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional Barisan Nasional (National Front or BN) is a major political coalition in Malaysia. Formed in 1973 as the successor of the Alliance (Parti Perikatan), it has ruled Malaysia uninterrupted (its term as the Alliance included) since independence. , used docile media organizations, notably television and the press, owned by politicians and businessmen "to promote and legitimise Verb 1. legitimise - make legal; "Marijuana should be legalized"
decriminalise, decriminalize, legalise, legalize, legitimate, legitimatise, legitimatize, legitimize itself" and to "discredit political opposition and dissent more generally" (Gomez and Jomo 1997:3). Critics say that television's potential role as a tool of "popular education" and national integration has lost out to the dictates of advertisers who favor entertaining foreign productions. In the 1980s, Mahathir's government began issuing licenses for the creation of private TV companies. His intention was to raise funds while retaining control over party political content by selling to carefully chosen bidders. All along, television has remained a key electoral tool for Barisan National, the Malay-controlled ruling coalition (Anuar and Kim 1996).
In 1984, the private channel TV3 was created. The official justification was that private television would foster competition, help reduce the size of the government debt, and counter the VCR VCR: see videocassette recorder.
in full videocassette recorder
Electromechanical device that records, stores on a videotape cassette, and plays back on a TV set recorded images and sound. threat to national unity after an increasing number of ethnic Indians and Chinese had turned to imported videos in their own tongues, shunning the Malay-language domination of RTM's programming (Hashim 1995). TV3 was a huge commercial success. Despite a strong economic recession, it recorded a pre-tax profit of RM 2.16 million in 1985. Five years later, this figure had multiplied fifteen-fold to reach RM 31.59 million. This led to rapid changes in the shareholding structure. By 1994 the majority shareholder was the group MRCB MRCB Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad
MRCB Musée Royal du Congo Belge (French)
MRCB Maple Ridge Concert Band (Maple Ridge, BC, Canada) , controlled by close associates of Anwar Ibrahim Dato' Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim (born August 10, 1947) is a former deputy prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia. Early in his career, he became a protege of the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, but subsequently emerged as the most prominent critic of (Gomez 1997:91-92). TV3's positive coverage of Anwar is said to have played a key role in his wresting the UMNO deputy presidency from Ghafar Baba Tun Ghafar Baba (February 18 1925–April 23 2006) was a Malaysian politician from Melaka and a former Deputy Prime Minister. He was born on February 18 1925 in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, the son of an impoverished villager. as part of his bid to ultimately become Prime Minister (Gomez 1997: 126-127). In 1997, Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir Abdul Kadir is the name of:
Some vocal sectors within urban West Malaysian society have expressed dismay at what they see as a constant meddling med·dle
intr.v. med·dled, med·dling, med·dles
1. To intrude into other people's affairs or business; interfere. See Synonyms at interfere.
2. To handle something idly or ignorantly; tamper. of politicians in the programming, a widespread lack of professionalism and the unrelenting search for lucrative revenues from transnational advertising agencies. Both RTM and TV3 have been attacked for allowing un-Asian levels of sex and violence into their programming. RTM's hard-earned 1980s ratio of 60 domestic productions to every 40 imported ones had by 1993 been reversed. TV3 was even more westernized west·ern·ize
tr.v. west·ern·ized, west·ern·iz·ing, west·ern·iz·es
To convert to the customs of Western civilization.
west : 80% of its programs came from the West, mostly from the USA (Hashim Rahman 1995). These figures, say the critics, indicate that the policies to foster a national culture are under severe threat (Nain 1996). Pressure from non-Malay quarters led to a compromise: RTM would devote its first channel to the promotion of the Malay(sian) language and culture, while TV2 would target the needs of the non-Malay groups by broadcasting in Chinese, Tamil and English (Hashim 1995). Despite this adjustment, a number of pressure groups still feel that their constituents are underrepresented un·der·rep·re·sent·ed
Insufficiently or inadequately represented: the underrepresented minority groups, ignored by the government. , including women's groups, small ethnic minorities and non-Muslim religious groups (Anuar and Kim 1996).
A persistent bone of contention is religion. Islam is a main ingredient in the synthetic Malaysian culture dreamed up by the UMNO leaders after the serious 1969 racial riots in West Malaysia. It is the only religion with TV coverage, a perennial source of resentment from other religious quarters. So far, moderate Muslim values have dominated local productions. Most RTM dramas revolve around Verb 1. revolve around - center upon; "Her entire attention centered on her children"; "Our day revolved around our work"
center, center on, concentrate on, focus on, revolve about the concerns of the Malay community, notably, how to reconcile the demands of modernization with the Islamic faith. (41) Two Malaysian researchers describe how "Islamic values are injected [in many dramas], partly as an indirect response to the government's desire to instil Islamic values into the administration and wider society" (Anuar and Kim 1996: 270).
In their television history, the Bornean states are again a special case. Transmission commenced in Sabah in 1974, eleven years after it had done so in West Malaysia. From 1975 Sarawak was allowed to use the Sabahan facilities. Various cultural, musical and religious programs were produced and broadcast by the two states over a joint channel known as Channel 3. However, in 1985 Channel 3 was closed down following directives from Kuala Lumpur--predictably, it was seen as a threat to national unity. Programming was taken over by the center, with which airtime was now "shared." Non-Muslim religious programs were never again broadcast. (42) Today, in spite of Sarawak's impressive economic growth of the past two decades, local production is lower than it was in the 1970s. Three kinds of programs are produced in Sarawak:
1. Rampai Kenyalang. (43) The state's oldest program, launched in 1976, this 30-minute newsreel is broadcast every Wednesday from 12:15 to 12:45. It covers political events, sports and cultural celebrations such as Gawai Dayak Gawai Day or Gawai Dayak, a festival celebrated in Sarawak on 1 June every year is both a religious and social occasion. The word Gawai means a ritual or festival whereas Dayak .
2. Documentaries on development and culture. Irregularly broadcast, on average twice a month.
3. Music, the arts, entertainment. Also irregular broadcasts.
Television in Sarawak is a West Malaysian import that arrived more than a decade later. Together with the Malay-medium school system, television is an integral part of the wide-ranging process of "double westernization west·ern·ize
tr.v. west·ern·ized, west·ern·iz·ing, west·ern·iz·es
To convert to the customs of Western civilization.
west " affecting Sarawak and Sabah since the Federation was created in 1963, and accelerated since the mid-1970s. By "double westernization" I mean the two-step flow of ideas, images, and practices from the Western world (especially the USA) selected and recycled in West Malaysia and then re-exported to East Malaysia East Malaysia: see Malaysia. . Television is also a reliable propaganda tool for the ruling government coalition, and in particular for the country's authoritarian Prime Minister. It is a fundamental conveyor of nation-building and modernity visions, notably Mahathir's Vision 2020--his dream of a developed Malaysia by the year 2020 (Postill 2002a). Finally, it is the site of many a struggle for political and economic clout. Attempts by the Bornean states to develop an autonomous channel in the 1970s were soon thwarted by Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur (kwä`lə lm`pr), city (1990 est. pop. in the interest of "national unity," the same interest that led to the burning of Iban books. The result is that Iban and other Dayak groups are systematically excluded from television. The sole recurrent Iban contribution is that of a young woman clad in traditional costume who sings the Vision 2020 along with four other attractive peers, each representing a major Malaysian 'race' (bangsa). This is but one example of the nation-state's indefatigable efforts to tame cultural diversity by overcommunicating the aesthetic appeal of the various cultures to a nationwide audience while undercommunicating (Eriksen 1993:84 following Goffman) their chief perceived threat to national unity: their unique languages and cultures. The Dayaks can be seen on television, but they cannot be heard.
Marrying pop and pomp POMP
A drug used in cancer chemotherapy and composed of purinethol (6-mercaptopurine), Oncovin (vincristine sulfate), methotrexate, and prednisone.
With the decline of the great pagan rituals of the past, and with the tedious simplicity of Christian rites and the development of an urban Iban elite in Sarawak, a secular celebration has acquired growing prominence over the past three decades: Gawai Dayak, the 1st of June pan-Dayak Festival launched in 1965 by the Iban Chief Minister of Sarawak The Chief Minister of Sarawak is the head of the executive branch of the state government in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. The Chief Minister is appointed by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor of Sarawak) from the state's Legislative Council. , Kalong Ka`long´
n. 1. (Zool.) A fruit bat, esp. the Indian edible fruit bat (Pteropus edulis). Ningkan, to match the Malay Hari Raya Raya may refer to:
Methods which are used to set off a controlled explosion include emptying out the area and moving the package (with the aid of robots) into a confined space such as a telephone booth. of ethnic jubilation. By contrast, other kinds of outbursts, as we saw in the case of the anti-logging blockades, are quietly kept away from the mass media limelight.
To illustrate the media production side of Gawai Dayak, I will cast but a glance at the 1994 souvenir program published by the Kuching-based Organising Committee. The cover shows the portrait of the previous year's Kumang Gawai, or Gawai Beauty Queen (Iban Section). Overleaf o·ver·leaf
On the other side of the page or leaf.
on the other side of the page
Adv. 1. , the reader is welcomed with the greeting "Happy Gawai 1994" in Malay and eleven Dayak languages Used to describe the languages of Borneo apart from the Languages of Chinese, Indian or European origin. Most languages on Borneo seem to be in branches of the Austronesian family Classification
1992 CULTURE: THE PILLAR OF UNITY AND DEVELOPMENT
1993 ADAT AND TECHNOLOGY FOR NATIONAL PROGRESS
1994 CULTURAL CONFLUENCE AS A BASIS FOR DEVELOPMENT TOWARDS VISION 2020
The next item is a preface written, also in English, by the Iban anthropologist and former Director of the Sarawak Museum The Sarawak Museum is the oldest museum in Borneo. It was established in 1888 and opened in 1891 in a purpose-built building in Kuching, Sarawak. Sponsored by Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak, the establishment of the museum was strongly encouraged by Alfred Russel , Dr. Peter Kedit. He relates the 1994 theme to the metaphor "confluence of rivers," applicable in his view to Sarawak's cultural and economic history, as well as to Malaysia's national motto "Unity in Diversity."
The Pacific nations provide us again with a useful comparative framework. LiPuma and Meltzoff (1990: 79-90) have analyzed the social construction of a "public culture" in the Solomon Islands Solomon Islands, independent Commonwealth nation (2005 est. pop. 538,000), c.15,500 sq mi (40,150 sq km), SW Pacific, E of New Guinea. The islands that constitute the nation of the Solomon Islands—Guadalcanal, Malaita, New Georgia, the Santa Cruz Islands, during ceremonies of independence. Like Malaysia, this nation-state is a British colonial creation. These ceremonies provide an annual setting for complex struggles over the representation of a national identity amidst great ethnic diversity and growing class differences. Ethnicity is simultaneously exalted and nested within the national identity. As in the Iban ethnohistorical accounts mentioned in the previous research note, headhunting headhunting
Practice of removing, displaying, and in some cases preserving human heads. Headhunting arises in some cultures from a belief in the existence of a more or less material soul that resides in the head. is presented as part of the internal strife that fragmented the Solomon Islands before unification. Similarly, the new media are mobilized by the elites to present the scattered islands as "a new, fledgling nation built on a primordial unity" (1990: 90). Time and space are reconceptualized, and the nation is portrayed and performed as a natural unit antedating its official birth. The leitmotif leit·mo·tif also leit·mo·tiv
1. A melodic passage or phrase, especially in Wagnerian opera, associated with a specific character, situation, or element.
2. A dominant and recurring theme, as in a novel. is to preserve the indigenous traditions "by creating a special time and space (i.e., ritual ceremonies) where they may be displayed" (1990: 90). Across much of the post-colonial world, elites have invented pseudo-rituals and media narratives to symbolically conjoin centralized states with their sub-national ethnic groups (cf. Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983). Throughout the Pacific, says Sullivan (1993:551), notions of kastom ('custom') have become powerful political tools, "so vague as to be both unifying and dividing, invoking various levels of community." These "ideologies of primordial culture" are pervasive across the vast region's mass media because "like [the] mass media themselves, [they] easily transcend geographic and linguistic barriers." In Island Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, region of Asia (1990 est. pop. 442,500,000), c.1,740,000 sq mi (4,506,600 sq km), bounded roughly by the Indian subcontinent on the west, China on the north, and the Pacific Ocean on the east. , from Southern Thailand Southern Thailand is a distinct region of Thailand, connected with the Central region by the narrow Kra Isthmus. Geography
Southern Thailand is located on the Malay Peninsula, with an area around 70,713 km², bounded to the north by Kra Isthmus as the narrowest part of to West Papua West Papua: see Papua. , the term adat ('custom') performs an identical service through a growing number of elite-controlled media, both modern (radio, television, public-address systems, etc.) and pre-modern (dance, music, etc.). Lacking a common language and cultural heritage, the Dayaks (including those who follow rather than set the official agenda) are re-presenting themselves through a small set of vague terms and images.
The next section in the souvenir program is a series of double-page messages from two state and another two Dayak leaders. The Dayaks (the Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, and the State Minister for Land Development, Datuk Celestine Ujang) are members of the so-called "big three" Iban millionaire politicians within the Melanau-controlled PBB PBB: see polybrominated biphenyl. , the dominant party within the ruling coalition at state level (Jawan 1994: 122). There follows the official prayer, Sampi Gawai Dayak 1994, written by Janang Ensiring, whom we have already encountered twice, first as a young patriotic poet, then as a middle-aged novelist. Among wishes of good health and longevity for all, Ensiring waves a proverbial cockerel cockerel
young male domestic fowl, older than 4 weeks, up to sexual maturity at about 5 months. (miau manuk) to ask the benevolent spirits benevolent spirits (b·neˑ·v "that our adat and our unity will follow firmly and closely the Rukun Negara [Malaysia's national ideology]" (Awak ka adat kitai enggau sempekat kitai tegap nunda sapat Rukun Negara). Then there is a long biau ('blessing') by the Iban politician Jimmy Donald in which he rewards, to quote from the English abstract provided, "the efforts of our wise leaders to perpetuate the noble values and the rich cultural heritage of the Dayak community." This is followed by a long photographic section in which the leaders are seen to partake in Verb 1. partake in - be active in
participate, take part - share in something
2. partake in - have, give, or receive a share of; "We shared the cake"
partake, share the colorful festivities fes·tiv·i·ty
n. pl. fes·tiv·i·ties
1. A joyous feast, holiday, or celebration; a festival.
2. The pleasure, joy, and gaiety of a festival or celebration.
Tourism being a growth industry in the state, on page 22 we learn about "Gawai Tourism Nite" which includes a "Traditional Gawai Welcome," dinner, Gawai "rituals," traditional music, a beauty parade and the latest pop hits from Sibu. The next section is made up of background information on some of the Dayak cultures represented in 1994, including materials from a foreign anthropologist (Jensen), an Iban ethno-historian (Sandin), and Dayak staff from the Council for Customary Law (Langub, Belawing). Finally, there is a long list of committee members and a number of mostly tourism-related advertisements.
As this product shows, this remarkably mediated ceremony expresses and reinforces Sarawak's ethnic-weighted imbalance of power. The ceremonial, colorful side of "the Dayaks" has accompanied powerful figures in Sarawak since the Brooke days. Gawai lends legitimacy to the political elite's claim that "the politics of development" is a successful formula of government that reconciles the demands of modernization with the preservation of a rich cultural heritage. In turn, they argue, this rich heritage can generate more revenue for the state and its people in the form of tourism.
The other side of the official festive coin is provided by the Sibu-based popular music industry. Iban cassette tapes and karaoke videos are increasingly popular with longhouse revelers. The complementarity com·ple·men·tar·i·ty
1. The correspondence or similarity between nucleotides or strands of nucleotides of DNA and RNA molecules that allows precise pairing.
2. of Sibu and Kuching--of Iban pop and Iban pomp--is never more apparent than during Gawai. This festival is, in sum, a "rite of modernization" (Peacock 1968), a celebration of and through clock and calendar time that provides all Dayaks with an official "slot" in the annual round of national events (Postill 2002a).
Gawai Dayak mobilizes two kinds of media: the mass media we have discussed throughout this piece (radio, print media, television, etc) and also what are known as "interpersonal media," that is, technologies that allow two-way communication Two-way communication is a form of transmission in which both parties involved transmit information. Common forms of two-way communication are:
Year Size Name Area Notes
1825 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km²) Miramichi Fire New Brunswick Killed 160 people. in neighboring Kalimantan, reached all areas of the state (see Sarawak Tribune, 13 October 1997, for one of many pro-Taib retorts). Rumors that Taib had deposited 8 billion ringgit ring·git
See Table at currency.
Noun 1. ringgit - the basic unit of money in Malaysia; equal to 100 sen from his logging ventures in a Swiss bank reached the rural areas and were quietly relayed in coffee shops and longhouse galleries. In this case, a number of interpersonal media (especially email, telephone and letters) and face-to-face exchanges were mobilized to discuss allegations which had been "blacked-out" from the mass media.
In each research note I have discussed one remarkable 20-odd-year period, one generation, of media production tied to profound social and cultural changes within Iban and Sarawak society. The first period (1954-1976) saw the rapid development of language-based Iban media--radio, books and a magazine--driven by a generation of Saribas teachers drawing on oral Iban culture. Their aim was to reconcile economic development and cultural preservation. At the same time they were furthering the state's aim of "saving the Iban from themselves," from their presumed conservatism. The second period (1977-1997) was born with the mass destruction of books in Dayak languages by the new postcolonial post·co·lo·ni·al
Of, relating to, or being the time following the establishment of independence in a colony: postcolonial economics. , Malay-dominated state, part of the aborted ethnogenesis Ethnogenesis (From Greek: ethnos(nation)+"genesis(birth), Greek: Εθνογένεσις) is the process by which a group of human beings comes to be understood or to understand themselves as ethnically distinct from the of a modern Iban culture. This was a period of accelerated Malaysianization and increased circulation of visual media contents. At the subnational level, the Sarawak state and its Dayak allies consolidated a vague, colourful Dayak identity supported by a wealth of visual media displayed most prominently during the Dayak Festival. A parallel discourse in the state government-controlled newspapers flourished and was pressed into intensive service at critical junctures of resistance from the Penan and other indigenous groups: the representation of the Dayaks as a backward people in need of a modern "mind-set." Partly as a reaction to the state's monopoly over legitimate media, this period also witnessed the growth of interpersonal media (telephone, fax, email, etc.) that challenged the ruling elite's accounts of rural development.
Following King (1989), King and Wilder (2003) and other anthropologists, I see the need to understand ethnicity not as an isolated category of analysis but as part of a broader context of social, economic, and political relations--as part of what Comaroff (1996) calls the "politics of difference." Contra Barth (in Hann 1994), I argue that the study of ethnicity in the post-colonial world cannot be detached from the study of culture and nation-building. Indeed, in Borneo as in other Asia-Pacific islands, ethnicity and nationalism are two aspects of common developmentalist projects that seek to spread vague primordial notions (of "custom," "heritage" and the like) through various media. It is precisely those "various media" that I have sought to explore in historical detail, for this is a sorely neglected area in the literature (see also Postill 2003). This approach has uncovered behind-the-scenes struggles not so much over vague symbols, but over the development and consolidation of a modern national language and culture in Malaysia--a question that is far from resolved given the continued strength of English and several Chinese "dialects." The attempts by Saribas Iban media producers to create a literate Iban high culture were thwarted by the new Malaysian state's will to monopolize mo·nop·o·lize
tr.v. mo·nop·o·lized, mo·nop·o·liz·ing, mo·nop·o·liz·es
1. To acquire or maintain a monopoly of.
2. To dominate by excluding others: monopolized the conversation. legitimate language and culture. A literate culture "cannot normally survive without its own political shell, the state" (Gellner 1983: 140). In this regard, Iban radio posed less of a threat to the new Malaysian nation-state than Iban books, so it was allowed to live on.
Under the spell of Appadurai's (1990) "mediascape" trope trope
1. A figure of speech using words in nonliteral ways, such as a metaphor.
2. A word or phrase interpolated as an embellishment in the sung parts of certain medieval liturgies. and the ubiquitous notion of "globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation ," Ginsburg (1993), Sullivan (1993) and others working on non-Western media production have highlighted the multidirectional nature of media influences. While agreeing with the need to design models that can capture some of the complexity of contemporary media practices, I have insisted on the unidirectional flow of media innovations and contents from the West, especially the English-speaking world, into East Malaysia via West Malaysia: a massive process of "double westernization" over which end-consumers in rural Sarawak have little control.
Newspaper Circulation Chinese 1. Chinese Daily News 5000 2. See Huan Daily News n.a. 3. Sin Hua Evening News and 4 n.a. others English 1. Sarawak Tribune 30000 2. People's Mirror* 10000 3. The Borneo Post* n.a. Malay 1. Utusan Sarawak 20000 Table 2.6. Circulation of major Sarawak newspapers. Source: Amir and Awang Jaya (1996: 54). Keys: n.a. = not available; (*) = includes a Malay-language supplement. The tabloid People's Mirror is now defunct and has been replaced by The Malaysian Today (personal communication, Clifford Sather). 40.00% broken heart ambis asa, tusah ati 40.00% longing heart lelengau, sunyi 14.00% happy heart ati senang 2.00% ode to Sarawak Menua Sarawak 2.00% the meaning of life (29) Dunya Sementara Table 2.7. Subject matter of Iban pop songs produced in the 1990s, in percentages. Sample: 49 songs from 5 well-known cassette tapes. (30)
(1) This innovation was known as Pelajar Jaku Iban ke Sekula Primari & Sekondari (Untie 1998:2) and reflected directives set by the Ministry of Education.
(2) In my Saribas and Skrang experience, most rural viewers retire for the night between 8:30 and 9:30 pm.
(3) CATS is an acronym. It stands for "Communicating Aspiration Throughout Sarawak." It is also a pun, as kuching is the Standard Malay word for 'cat'.
(4) His artistic name is a wordplay on the Iban teknonym 'Father-of' (Apai). It literally translates as 'Peter John Son-of-Father'. I once attended a longhouse sermon in which the priest jokingly told his flock that "We humans are all like Peter John; we're all children of the Father" (Semua kitai mensia baka Peter John meh, semua anak Apai magang). This popular figure has since left CATS Radio and is no longer on the air.
(5) However, some of the participants, all of whom were native Iban speakers, had at times to revert to English. Like many middle-aged, educated Sarawakians of other ethnic groups, they found it difficult to sustain a work-related discussion exclusively in one language, especially in a language different from English. Moreover, most of the terminology associated with broadcasting has no Iban equivalents. Other participants chose to use English to stress particular points, a well-established practice among English-educated Sarawakians.
(6) Or, as the facilitator put it: "Nadai tuju ke terang."
(7) In the original "Ibanglish": "Nadai research digaga pasal proper content." In the 1980s, radio staff would often travel to the rural areas. Their travel reports included views from the listeners. Two preliminary audience research studies were carried out between 1993 and 1994. In addition, some 20 listeners telephoned with their views at the beginning of 1996.
(8) The Iban Section had 15 staff members in the 1980s, but only 6 in 1998. According to their new head, 27 more staff members were needed (Montegrai 1998).
(9) At the time of the workshop, advertisers were said to be "flocking to CATS," the private station, and deserting RTM. Radio commercials are mostly for household goods. The Iban Section budget has shrunk from RM 80,000 in 1994 to RM 60,000 in 1997.
(10) Participants felt that some broadcasters can at times be coarse or rude (kasar) and disrespectful dis·re·spect·ful
Having or exhibiting a lack of respect; rude and discourteous.
disre·spect towards the audience.
(11) For instance, storage facilities at RTM are in sore need of improvements. Unique folk stories, traditional music recordings, etc., are kept on magnetic tapes rather than compact disks (personal communication, Nichol Ragai Lang, March 1997).
(12) This point echoes a recurrent concern throughout the workshop and in conversation with educated urban Iban: the lack of written materials in Iban since the demise of the Borneo Literature Bureau.
(13) "[The Iban Section] must be the only organization in the world with absolutely no women on the staff!" complained one producer.
(14) The only area in Sarawak where RTM Iban can be listened to on FM is Miri. All other areas receive a crackling AM service. The other three major languages (Malay, English and Mandarin) all have FM broadcasts.
(15) This issue excited numerous comments from the participants. Two aspects of the complex problem were most salient. First, the intrusion of Malay terms and pronunciation in the Iban spoken by the younger broadcasters. Unlike their predecessors whose schooling was entirely in English, Iban under the age of 33-35 were educated in Malay. To compound this problem, as broadcasters climb up the organizational ladder at RTM they spend less time "on air" and more on administrative duties. The younger translators were singled out for their tenuous grasp of both Iban and English and their speaking Iban rojak ('mixed Iban'). One senior participant described their Iban as "more irritating than educating." A second aspect noted was the lack of a standard Iban spelling, pronunciation and vocabulary. The result, said a participant, is that one can listen to the Iban word for 'person' being pronounced as orang, urang, ohang and even uhang depending on the broadcaster's river of origin (one could also add to the list the Skrang ureang). What nobody mentioned was the fact that the Iban Section has already played a fundamental role on the long road to standardization by privileging the Saribas dialect. Any future decisions on standardization will have to be made with reference to the RTM-Saribas dialect rather than, say, the Skrang or Baleh dialects.
(16) The early broadcasters, such as Gerunsin Lembat, are said to have had beautiful voices. According to Empeni Lang, the workshop facilitator, the younger broadcasters not only have less pleasant voices, but are also "very subjective."
(17) In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , it was felt that new staff are often recruited on the basis of their political allegiance rather than ability.
(18) Some Iban politicians are said to treat the Iban Section as if it were "just another government department." Pressures can also come from Malay politicians from Kuala Lumpur and their Sarawak allies. Religion is a particularly thorny issue. RTM Sarawak, unlike its Peninsular counterparts, has regular Christian broadcasts in Iban and other languages. These have been discontinued at least twice during the past few years owing to owing to
Because of; on account of: I couldn't attend, owing to illness.
owing to prep → debido a, por causa de pressures "from high places."
(19) Kaji Selidik Tahunan Tentang Penggunaan Radio (Bahagian Teknologi Pendidikan 1993).
(20) As a rule of thumb, growing up in a longhouse is a chief criterion for being considered a 'true Iban' (Iban bendar) as opposed to an 'urban Iban' (Iban nengeri).
(21) Literally, 'The People's News'.
(22) Its Malay version is called Pedoman Rakyat.
(23) 0RANG BUMAI DI MENUA PESISIR ENDA ENDA Employment Non-Discrimination Act (civil rights legislation; US Congress)
ENDA Environmental Development Action
ENDA Encontro Nacional de Dirigentes Associativos (Portugal) TAU tau
Symbol The 19th letter of the Greek alphabet.
n ENDA NGUBAH CHARA PENGA WA SIDA (Pembrita, May 1996).
(24) In my experience, Pembrita is more popular a newspaper in the Skrang than in the Saribas area.
(25) For the second kind of portrayal, see Minos' "Dayak attitude and NCR (NCR Corporation, Dayton, OH, www.ncr.com) A technology company specializing in financial terminal transactions, retail systems and data warehousing. Until the late 1990s, NCR was heavily invested in the hardware side of the industry, known worldwide as a major manufacturer of computers Land Development," Sarawak Tribune, 19 October 1997. Minos is a Bidayuh Dayak.
(26) In 1947 there were less than 300 Iban in Sibu. In 1972, there were at least ten times this figure (Sutlive 1972: 466).
(27) "Iban music industry fast catching up with the rest of the world" (Sarawak Tribune, 22/3/1998). This catchy headline from Bernama, the Malaysian national news agency, conceals the fact that it is a Chinese family who controls the lion's share of the "Iban music industry."
(28) See, for example, Peacock's (1968) classic study on "proletarian theatre" (ludruk) in the East Javanese town of Surabaya, or Van Groenendael (1985) on the wayang Wayang is an Indonesian word for theater. When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theater, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. "Bayang", the Javanese word for shadow or imagination, also connotes "spirit. in rural Java as, among other things, powerful sites of social critique.
(29) A most unusual philosophical investigation into life's transience conveyed in a moralistic mor·al·is·tic
1. Characterized by or displaying a concern with morality.
2. Marked by a narrow-minded morality.
mor tone by Andrewson Ngalai and entitled "Dunya Sementara," from his album Ambai Numbur Satu.
(30) The five tapes are: Ambai Numbur Satu and Andrewson Ngalai by Andrewson Ngalai, Taju Remaong by Johnny Aman, Iban Karaoke by several artists (Johnny Aman, Andrewson Ngalai, Josephine Wilson, and William Awing), and Joget Iban by several artists (Andrew Bonny Bonny (bŏn`ē), town, SE Nigeria, in the Niger River delta, on the Bight of Biafra. In the 18th and 19th cent., Bonny was the center of a powerful trading state, and in the 19th cent. it became the leading site for slave exportation in W Africa. James, Angela L. Jua, Johnny Awie, Jus [Latin, right; justice; law; the whole body of law; also a right.] The term is used in two meanings:
Jus means law, considered in the abstract; that is, as distinguished from any specific enactment, which we call, in a general sense, the law. Allen, Gibson Janggum, Jackson Dana and Alice Awis). Only the latter album is an lrama production; the other four are all TBC.
(31) "Nuan enda ngasoh nganti," In Iban Karaoke Vol. 7 (TBC audiocassette).
(32) Probably a reference to Sibu's recent past. More generally, the notion that there are no longer any 'enemies' (in Iban, munsoh or munsuh, but notice here the Malay spelling musuh) thanks to the pacifying pac·i·fy
tr.v. pac·i·fied, pac·i·fy·ing, pac·i·fies
1. To ease the anger or agitation of.
2. To end war, fighting, or violence in; establish peace in. efforts of the government is widespread among the Iban (see next section).
(33) TBC website (http://www.tbc.inet.com.my).
(34) Even though the folklore tapes were considerably cheaper. In 1997 they were selling at RM 7.25 compared to the pop tapes' RM 12.50 to RM 13.50. I do not have at present, however, any sales figures sales figures npl → cifras fpl de ventas from either company.
(35) A case in point is the Iban politician and former headmaster, Jimmy Donald, who has worked on the musical heritage of the Iban . In a recent paper (Donald 1997), he singles out a number of traditional genres, including didi (lullabies) and other songs for children, ramban (used to correct someone's behavior), pelandai (to entertain and egg on a warrior), dungai (an entertaining form of "conversation"), kana (a sung epic), pengap or timang (invocation of the deities at major festivals), renong (to recall a love story, to heal a shaman's patients, to open apengap), and others.
(36) Sarawak Tribune, 8 April 1997.
(37) Sarawak Tribune, 2 April 1998. The orchestra has now been founded and performed a concert, as reported in the last BRB "Be right back." See digispeak.
(chat) BRB - (I will) be right back. , during the 2000 BRC BRC Black Rock City (Burning Man)
BRC British Retail Consortium
BRC Business Resource Center (Small Business Administration)
BRC Bisexual Resource Center
BRC Black Radical Congress conference in Kuching (Brakel 2001).
(38) These views were put forward by an Iban councillor (name not recorded) at a workshop on Iban arts held in Kuching in April 1997.
(39) Sarawak Tribune, 2 April 1998. As it happens, Ujang himself is a millionaire.
(40) But see Jones (2002) for a more complex interpretation.
(41) An interesting parallel with the Radio Sarawak dramas and BLB novellas discussed earlier.
(42) When the Christian Kadazan-dominated Parti Bersatu Sabah The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS, or United Sabah Party) is a political party in Sabah, east Malaysia. It was registered as a political party on March 5 1985. The founding president was Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who broke away from the ruling Parti Berjaya because (PBS PBS
in full Public Broadcasting Service
Private, nonprofit U.S. corporation of public television stations. PBS provides its member stations, which are supported by public funds and private contributions rather than by commercials, with educational, cultural, ) swept into power in Sabah in 1990, the rebirth of a state television station was at the top of their electoral manifesto (Jawan 1994: 220-221). The Federal government, however, successfully thwarted such attempts.
(43) Previously known as Majalah Sarawak and Mingguan Sarawak.
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Borneo Literature Bureau (BLB) Annual Reports, 1960-1976, Sarawak Government.
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP DBP Diastolic Blood Pressure
DBP Development Bank of the Philippines
DBP Database Project (Visual Studio File Extension)
DBP DNA Binding Protein
DBP Disinfection Byproduct
DBP Deutsche Bundespost ) Annual Reports, Federal Government.
Education Department Annual Reports, 1955-1957, Sarawak Government.
John R. Postill
Bremen Institut fur Kulturforschung (BIK BIK Bink Video (file name extension)
BIK Biak, Indonesia - Mokmer (Airport Code)
BIK Believe It, Kid
BIK Battery Improvement Kit )
University of Bremen The University of Bremen (German Universität Bremen) is a university of approximately 23,500 people are currently studying, teaching, researching and working from 126 countries in Bremen, Germany. It was founded in 1971. , Germany