Pix | Kayan Elder, Aban Jau Ing (with bamboo staff) [The Borneo Post]
For Aban Jau Ing and other senior Malaysian citizens of Kayan origin deep in the Sarawak heartland, heaven can wait.
Sighing he says, "My wish [is] to see the bridge before I die".
No one should have to wait for heaven. Not that there's any berth booked for us. You'd be lucky to catch a glimpse of Ratzinger near the Pearly Gates. But, timber companies operating in the area shouldn't have much problem. In fact they wont even get a parking ticket from psudo-guardians of the Sarawak top quality timber-rich forests.
Deep in the heart of Sarawak's heartland, there are murmers. Not raucuous as the Red Shirts; no ear shattering din; no march with petitions. In fact these are ideal citizens of the Barisan National Government. All they want is to go to heaven. Perhaps, the BN Government don't like addresses in heaven. There are no forest to log and no taxes to collect.
In the valleys of the Apoh River, past some ox-bow lakes, they built a 115-door longhouse long ago known as Long Atip. That's something like almost half a mile long. It's the longest house in Sarawak or the world. You could keep fit visiting your cousin if you both live at house ends. Rather puzzling that Apco did not spin this. They could have told PM Najib to build the Suspension Bridge last month and hype that on a "1Longhouse" jingle from the greenest "1Jungle". Well, Apco can only unbreak suspended hopes. Government contractors had left a long slab of concrete meant for a suspension bridge and that was it.
Meanwhile, the longest house is the raging number 1 fire risk in the world. Even with fire extinguishers, these people will only survive with broken dreams and dashed hopes.
Maybe heaven is near from high, with or without Bomba. Sarawak State Elections are just round the corner, some say.
But everything is long in Long Atip. Long walks, long boat trips, long hopes. Deep long sighs. And a long wait for heaven, here or thereafter.