Groups 'no' to Momogun label
Published on: Friday, October 14, 2016
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Kota Kinabalu: Nine ethnic associations have collectively rejected the term "Momogun" as a group classification for natives in Sabah to replace "lain-lain" (others) in official government forms.Instead, the group insisted that their respective ethnic names be retained in order to ensure that their identity is preserved down to their future generations.

"We have all disagreed the change of our ethnic names to Momogun," said Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin, President of the United Sabah Dusun Association (Usda) after chairing a meeting with presidents of the associations to discuss matter, Wednesday.

The meeting ended with the associations - Usda, Persatuan Persatuan Kimaragang Sabah Bersatu, Persatuan Tobilung Bersatu Sabah, Persatuan Sino Kadazan Durun Murut Sabah, Pertubuhan Tindal Bersatu Sabah, Persatuan Bangsa Tombinuo Sabah, Persatuan Kaum Sukang Sabah, Persatuan Dusun Subpan Segama Lahad Datu and Persatuan Suang Lotud Sabah – all reaching a consensus that the term "Momogun" should not replace their ethnic names in official forms.

The term "Momogun" has been advocated by the Momogun National Congress (MNC) as a group classification for the Dusunic, Paitanic and Murutic speech communities.

Its President Datuk Henrynus Amin had said that use of Momogun would not replace the people's ethnic identity but strengthen it.

"The use of Momogun as a collective identity strengthens our ethnic identity. While we remain as ethnic Kadazan or Dusun or Murut or Bisaya or Sungai and so on, we are collectively grouped as Momogun or people indigenous to Borneo," he said, during MNC's installation in July.

He had also said the MNC's ultimate vision was to see a larger family of indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak united under one classification as Dayak/Momogun.

However, Ewon said the term Momogun is not even mentioned in the Federal Constitution.

"You must remember there's no mention of Momogun in the Constitution. That's the problem.

And that's why we have called for this meeting to seek the views from the associations," said Ewon, who is also Ranau Member of Parliament.

Article 161A (7) of the Federal Constitution states the following:

"The races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of "native" in Clause 6 as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kedayans, Kalabits, Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays Melanos, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits."

It is not clear how "Dusuns" were listed among ethnic communities in Sarawak in the paragraph and neither could it be immediately determined if they refer to a community in Sabah.

Henrynus had reportedly explained that the term Momogun was not an inverted and new term for it had been used by indigenous people of Sabah to refer to their status as natives of the land even before the formation of Malaysia.

MNC's proposal received strong backing from several local native NGOs but the Kadazandusun Cultural Associaiton (KDCA) and the Kadazan Society Sabah (KSS) remain opposed to the term, preferring the people to stick to their respective ethnic names such as Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Rungus and others.

At the height of the debate, Huguan Siou Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan had issued an order to stop quarrelling over the matter.

"I feel that there is nothing to discuss. You want to put what your race is, you put down what your race is," he said.

During Wednesday's meeting, there was a suggestion from Usda to have all more than 40 ethnic and sub-ethnic communities in Sabah listed in the government database so that no one, even the smallest communities, will again be classified as "lain-lain" (others) in official government forms or statistics.

Ewon further explained when an ethnic person writes his or her race in a government official form, he or she is free to put the word "Dusun".

"Otherwise they can just put down their ethnic name for example Suang Lotud. But say if a person from the Kimaragang community wants to identify himself Dusun Kimaragang, he can do so," he said.

Ewon acknowledged the MNC's intention to unite all indigenous communities in Sabah by using Momogun.

"We understand its mission to unite all ethnics. And we have no problem with its intention to help the communities grow economically and in the area of education. But we disagree to change our ethnic names.

"The crucial point here is that we want our ethnic names to be retained," he said adding that the group will hand a memorandum to the government soon regarding their views and stance on the matter.


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