Sabah Sino KDM Association (PSKS) Supreme Council members Jerry Goh and Tay Jock Liang said the Sino-KDMs in the State are more inclined to align themselves with the natives, having a lifestyle that does not resemble their Chinese origins and even speak Malay like the natives with strong accents.
"In terms of food, it is quite unusual to see Chinese eat bosou or bambangan but for us, it's normal.
Furthermore, the Babas and Nyonyas in Malacca have been declared an ethnic group. So why can't we in Sabah be recognised as one?" said Goh, adding that there are more than 50,000 people who consider themselves Sino-KDMs in Sabah currently.
Both Goh and Tay who attended the Sabah Classification and Identity Workshop here on Wednesday said more than 70 per cent of the participants in the workshop, consisting of native chiefs, community leaders and government servants, supported their cause to be included in the list of ethnicity in the State.
"Some are still confused but we have explained that it is time we have our own identity as Sino-KDM and many agreed that we are part of the native ethnic groups in Sabah.
That is all that we want," said Tay.
They continued that part of the functions of PSKS is to help members who number about 20,000 in ten branches Statewide, in land matters since many had problems transferring native titles because of their Chinese surnames.
"The process is difficult. Even in the Land and Survey Department, they are unsure.
The association has a panel of lawyers to assist members in such problems.
"The giving out of native certificates is frozen right now due to numerous documentation frauds. We know Chinese who are not of mixed blood can buy lands and that still happens today.
"So we suggested that if possible, the certificate is kept frozen but alternatively lump Sino communities together with other natives," said Tay.
The matter is a complicated one, they said, especially since many people are claiming they are Sino-KDMs when they are not and the association aims to become a one-stop-centre to confirm the authenticity of the claims.
Goh argued that according to the constitution, the groups of people who are already in the land before independence are considered ethnic groups.
"It's not that we are not accepted as a people but it is still a cause for controversy among some people. Some wanted to stop additional ethnic grouping and forced people to choose whether to put Kadazandusun, Murut or Chinese in the birth certificates.
"I pleaded to those who attended the workshop because I want all of them to support us and we have high hopes that we would get what we want," said Goh.
The Sino-KDMs in the State are proud of their own unique culture which also included a unique traditional costume combining the elements of KDM and Chinese.
Goh said the association will be having a special 'Sino Day' on Nov 11 at the Putra Ballroom where members will be featuring their unique cultures and customs.