Published on: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Kota Kinabalu: Upko Vice President Datuk Marcus Mojigoh said the proposed removal of "race" in government forms should not be implemented as it would place the native community in Sabah, in particular, at a disadvantage in terms of identity.
"It is not that I disagree with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, but I can be in a Chinese community, an Indian community and still live in harmony with those around me.
This is the norm in Sabah. My family, like many in the State, has people of much diversity.
"He (Kurup) is trying to strengthen our unity as Malaysians, but for me, I am proud to be a Kadazan. What is wrong with having a race?
We are united by diversity," he said at the Junior Chamber International "Ang Pau Festival" at Tanjung Aru Plaza, Tuesday.
Mojigoh said it would not be right for people in the country to be unable to identify themselves. Unlike the peninsula which basically comprises only three races namely Malays, Chinese and Indians, the people in Sabah and Sarawak comprise as many as 40 ethnic groups in each state.
"The intention is to unite the people as 1Malaysians and call all of us Malaysians with no racial identification. Look at schools around the country. We have Tamil schools where they are free to teach Tamil and Chinese schools where they are free to teach Mandarin.
"Looking back, the removal of 'race' would prove unsuitable for the people as we are a peaceful nation where everyone can live in harmony with everyone else, without looking at a person's race," he said.
In addition, he also said that people should not be overly sensitive over small matters.
"Everything these days seem to be a sensitive matter.
Even a video can invoke racial sensitivities, probably manipulated by irresponsible individuals. We must not fall for these tricks.
"We need the people to be more matured to set an example for the ones inheriting the nation, the future generation. They will be the ones who will change the future," he said.
Meanwhile, Organising Chairman, Abby Tan took the opportunity to promote their flagship project, 'Say No To Sharks Fin Soup'.
He hoped that through continuous dialogue and advocacy, the community will understand, accept and take the necessary action to save the endangered species.
The festival also featured performances, witnessed by more than 200 people, by local evergreen artiste, Peter Dicky Lee, local artiste, Jamieson Fung and young, upcoming performer, Yico Wong.
Upko Komulakan chief Ewon Benedick said the proposal must be discussed and studied carefully.
"We have Article 153 of the Federal Constitution which clearly mentions the special rights of the Malays and the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak, among others, are on education, scholarship and public service.
"This article was then translated into government policy beginning from the National Economic Policy to the present National Vision Policy.
This policy itself needs certain verification on race for the purpose of statistics and decision making references," he said.
However, he agreed there were certain government forms that can do away with the "race" column.
"In the future, I believe we all want to be just called Bangsa Malaysia," said Ewon. Since the proposal has not yet reached the Federal Cabinet, it could be deliberated further among all relevant stakeholders, he said.