State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said there had been much confusion among government officers from outside of Sabah and he received feedback, especially from the National Registration Department (NRD) who confessed making errors in terms of ethnicity and particulars in the birth certificates issued to natives.
"This is because they do not have definite guidelines to determine the ethnicity of the applicants. In Sabah context, the terms are non-issues because they were not introduced by federal or Muslims but the British.
On the question of dropping the use of 'bin' and 'binti' altogether, Masidi said the choice lies with the people.
"I applaud the efforts of Sabah Cultural Board in organising the Sabah Classification and Identity Workshop because this programme managed to alleviate the problem and give better understanding on the matter to the participants," he said during the closing of the workshop, Wednesday.
More than 80 participants including 57 people from ethnic associations, 17 government department representatives and eight people from various political parties attended the programme.
During the event, Masidi received a document containing resolutions and proposals outlined during the workshop to be handed over to the State government.
"My hope is that this document will be endorsed by the State Government and becomes an official document to be given to the Federal Government so that it would become the guidelines for government workers in their future dealings with the people.
"One of the outcomes of the discussion in the workshop is that there are sub-ethnic groups that now qualify to become full ethnic groups. In other words, there is a possibility that the number of ethnicities in the State will increase in the future," he said.
Masidi said, currently, there are more than 30 ethnic groups in the State and sub-ethnic groups under the KDM community alone are already 97 according to the discussion during the workshop.
The second phase of the discussion, he added, which is hoped to be held early next year, will be able to identify the real number of ethnic groups in the State.
The two-day workshop aimed to expose participants to the normal practises in classifying and identifying the people used in government offices especially the NRD, Statistics Department, hospitals, native affairs offices and others.
Meanwhile, SCB Chairman Datuk Wences Angang during the launching ceremony of the workshop on Tuesday said the board does not intend to point any finger at any party by organising the workshop.
"Our purpose is clear which is to understand and suggest the solutions to the many problems relating to the classification and identity of the people," he said.
He added that many have complained that due to the usage of 'bin' and "binti" in their names, they have been wrongly classified as Muslims or have to write their race as "lain-lain" in forms used by government agencies.