KUCHING, June 21 ― The death of PKR’s Sarawak poll candidate Bill Kayong at the hands of an unknown shooter this morning sent a shockwave statewide, not just among his political colleagues.
Kayong was also the secretary of the Sarawak Dayak Association (Pedas) which is headquartered in Miri and his friends reacted to his murder by pouring their thoughts in a community chat group on text messaging platform WhatsApp called “Dayak News”.
“Blood shed and will be shed when the governance failed to help the poor, but bent to side the rich [sic],” said Philip Teo, who expressed his sadness over Kayong’s death.
“Bill, you have fought your battle. It shall never stop here,” said lawyer Francis Tero.
Enjop Jelom wrote: “Though he is gone, but remember his deeds. Let's continue his fight for justice.”
David Umpie wrote: “Let the police determine who is the killer. When the identity of the killer is found, whether he belongs to any organisation, then all Sarawakians must be united to fight those enemies of the people.”
Albinus Bundan lamented that life appeared to be cheap nowadays, especially for Dayaks.
Kayong was in the limelight recently through the May 7 Sarawak election when he took on and lost to Barisan Nasional’s direct candidate Rosey Yunus in the Bekenu state constituency. Kayong polled 1,200 votes against Rosey's 6009 votes.
Two other candidates, independents Peter Jelin (565 votes) and Austin Sigi Melu (589 votes) lost their election deposits.
Within the political circle, Kayong was known as the personal secretary to Miri PKR MP Dr Michael Teo long before the 2013 general elections.
Incidentally, on May 15 last year, Dr Teo, who is also Miri PKR chief, was assaulted by an unknown assailant outside his clinic.
The attacker bashed Dr Teo from behind with a baseball bat before fleeing the scene in a car without a number plate, leaving the doctor with broken collar bones.
Eyewitnesses saw an old Proton Saga parked nearby before the attack happened, but to date, no one has been arrested in connection with Dr Teo’s assault.
As secretary of Pedas, Kayong was very active on issues concerning Dayaks' rights, especially on native customary rights land being encroached by plantation companies.
On May 4 last year, he challenged the CEO of the federal government’s efficiency unit PEMANDU Datuk Seri Idris Jala to visit Sarawak’s interiors and see directly the hard life faced by its impoverished people, after the former senator declared poverty in Malaysia to be nearly wiped out and that there was only 1 per cent at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Kayong also invited Idris to join Pedas in its visits to areas where the unfortunate, poor and needy live so that he could understand the hardships they go through.
Kayong and Pedas also highlighted the conversion of a 13-year old Catholic girl to Islam by demonstrating outside the school against two Muslim teachers who had allegedly forced the teen to recite the Islamic vows without her parents knowledge and consent.
The two teachers were subsequently transferred out of the school and the girl's conversion was cancelled.