Dont get me wrong! This entry does not even reflect that Iban people are terrorist or what not. Neither do I brand the Iban people as terrorist. Its about one story that I want to share which I encountered during my chambering time in Kuching early year 2002.
I found that it is interesting to practise Law in Sarawak in particular comparing to Peninsular. We tend to meet all kind of people from different races. We all know that Sarawak had atleast 100 different races in culture and one of the most prominent and well-known is Iban. During my chambering time, I was assigned by my boss to handled one running down case (accident case) that involved a chinese family who are suing a chinese man. To my surprise, though having a chinese name, our client (the chinese family) were fluent and most of the time conversed ONLY in Iban language.
That case was fixed for full trial and I was directed to prepare a Witness Statement for this chinese family. Just for the record, in Sarawak, all court's documents were drafted and filed in English (unlike Peninsular). Obviously I am not chinese and neither do I understand or speak chinese. To make matter worst, the chinese family only spoke in Iban language which I do have no idea at all (maybe I can understand few words). These task of preparing the witness statement do gave me a lot of stress as it is futile attempt on drafting it while I could not be able to understand any words from them.
I informed by boss about it and he suggested me to asked my colleague who are one of the lawyer of the firm for some help, to which he agreed. Though he is not an Iban, but he adamantly admit that he can speak and understand Iban language. In fact, he even told me that the language is easy to converse. Without a slight doubt, I agree for him to help me to be my interpreter during the whole course of drafting the Witness Statement.
The questions and answers sessions begin where I asked the question and my colleague will interpret it in Iban language to the Chinese family. For the first 10 minutes, I realised that I have made some progress (though a bit, but its OK, I thought). Then for the next 30 minutes of the sessions, I even realised some peculiarity. It seems that whenever my colleague interpreting my questions to Iban language, I'm pretty much understand it.
I had this question playing in my mind at that time that I may actually understand Iban language. But then again, I realised that whenever the chinese family spoke back to my colleague responding to my questions, their Iban language seems harder to understand. I tried to hear my colleague interpretations in Iban language more attentively and carefully. For the next 5 minutes or so, I could barely hold it anymore and I excuse myself from the sessions and went to my office's kitchen and had a big laugh. Yeaaah.... SERIOUSLY I had a BIG LAUGH!
Few of the staffs were confused over my big laugh. They asked why. After settling down for couple of minutes, then I told them that my colleague are now helping me interpreting my questions to the chinese family into Iban language. The funny thing is that, I cant speak Iban and neither do I understand it. But I can understand every single Iban words coming out from my colleague mouth!!!!
After that incident, we all called him, "The Iban Terrorist" as obviously, his purported Iban language is actually a Sarawak Malay language hybrid with Iban accent. No wonder he said its easy.....