History of the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA)

In the 1950s a group headed by Ahguan Guga realised that the Bidayuhs, hitherto separated along “dialect, region and religion” lines needed to be united. This group that also included Helbourne Simigat, Wesley Haron Timor and Augustine Sirau, feared that a disunited Bidayuh community would be easily exploited and be left behind in the development of the state.

Old DBNA Building Photos

The group decided that the disparate groups in the Bidayuh community needed to be united under one central organisation. Towards this end, they established the Bidayuh National Association (BNA) that was registered on 22nd September 1955 under the Societies Ordinance 1947. From then on, the Bidayuh community began to develop an awakening and awareness of their identity, heritage and existence as a common people or community.

The first executive council members of BNA were:

President: Ahguan Guga

Deputy President: Nakid Mingen

Secretary: Augustine Sirau

Treasurer: Wesley Haron Timor

The first task of the BNA first exco members was to rally support within the Bidayuh community. Helbourne Simigat, William Nais, OKP Dukau Bajag, Geris Nian, Michael Jesseng Langgie, Vincent Greene Sirau, Ang Ju Inn and Rhoda Simigat toured Bidayuh villages to spread the news, to seek members for BNA, and to persuade the villagers to change their isolationist attitudes.

From the onset, the BNA exco realised the need for a rest house and hostel to provide temporary accommodation for members of the community while they are in Kuching. They applied for a piece of land from the British colonial government to build a community rest house. After some delay, the land (the current DBNA HQ site) was approved for BNA, and the grant of title was issued on 25th July 1962, with the condition that the association should complete the construction of the rest house within two years.

Under the chairmanship of OKP Dukau Bajag who was assisted by Geris Nian, Nakid Mingen, Dustin Frank Sirau, Michael Jesseng Langgie and Vincent Greene Sirau, BNA succeeded in raising the funds to build a rest house and BNA headquarters at the site. The committee succeeded through sheer hard work and perseverance. Some of the members donated their own money, besides their time and efforts to achieve this within the time frame to avoid the land being taken back by the authorities.

The occupation permit for the building was issued on 4th December 1963. It was declared open by the first Chief Minister of Sarawak, His Right Honourable, Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan, on 28th December 1963.

From then on, DBNA progressed further and faster. In 1982, under the stewardship of Wilfred Nissom Rata, who was assisted by Stephen Jussem Dundon, Nicholas Gunjew, Peter Minos and Austin Dimin, a new building was constructed to replace the old one. The new DBNA headquarters was officiated by the Chief Minister, His Right Honourable Datuk Amar Abdul Taib bin Mahmud on 3rd July 1982. In February 1995, a baruk / panggah was built next to the building.

DBNA’s constitution was amended in 1983 to change the structure of the Branches and Units, to expand DBNA’s objectives, and to define and clarify the scope of responsibility and authority of the exco and of DBNA. The amendment also extended the term of the exco from two to three years, and fixed the delegates conference from a biennial to triennial affair. The amendments took effect on 11th January 1996.

A big change in DBNA was underway when Datu Ik@Pahon anak Joyik was elected President in 2005. He inherited a well- structured and well-run organisation. During his stewardship, he focused on uplifting the community.

Towards this end, DBNA develop a strategic plan with the theme “The way forward”. It comprised the following seven key areas:

  • Education
  • Language, heritage and culture
  • Social
  • Economy
  • Unity
  • NCR land
  • Family

On 12th February 2009, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Patinggi Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak visited DBNA headquarters and gave a grant for the construction of a multi-purpose hall and a new baruk. When completed two year later, these became iconic buildings and a source of pride for the Bidayuh community and for the state.

Under the leadership of Datu Ik@Pahon anak Joyik, DBNA became even more recognised and well-known within the Bidayuh community and other communities in Sarawak.

DBNA also attained recognition in other areas. DBNA has received the best-managed organisation award from the Registrar of Societies, Malaysia, for four consecutive years from 2010 to 2013.

Many programs and activities have been planned to elevate the Bidayuh community. Some of these are long term plans that will not bear results immediately or in the near future.

DBNA also initiated and participated in joint programs with other communities to strengthen cooperation and goodwill between it and the different ethnic groups in Sarawak.

In October 2014, a youth symposium with the theme “moving forward” was held at the DBNA hall. This symposium aimed to develop a strategic plan for the advancement of the Bidayuh community. The plan focused on the development of progressive human resource and skills among the youths in the community.