Race: More calls to do likewise
Published on: Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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Kota Kinabalu: Sarawak's move to include the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu ethnic groups in the race status classification of government official forms is gaining more support from non-governmental organisations and politicians in Sabah. Persatuan Kebudayaan dan Kebajikan Anak Negeri Sabah (Panas) President Samson Quintin said he admired Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem for addressing the long overdue matter and caring for his people.

"At last we feel that we are human beings but this is because the new Chief Minister of Sarawak did it. It took 51 years to solve a simple matter as that," he said.

"If Sarawakians are happy to be called Bumiputera we do not mind. And the same goes to the Malays in Malaya who call themselves Bumiputera. But as far as Sabahans are concerned we prefer to be called Anak Negeri or Natives ... we are more comfortable with this because we only have Native in our certificate, like our land title which is called Native Title," he added.

Thus, he said Sabahans can call themselves Native Kadazan, Dusun, Sama, Idaan, Rungus, Murut, Tabilung, Tambanuo, Kimaragang, Sungoi, Garo, Dumpas, Tangara, Sino Kadazan, Sino Dusun, Sino Murut etc.

"I hope the true natives of Sabah will unite so that we will not be manipulated by outsiders. We must protect our secured status and I believe all the other races will be happy if we are united…let us all protect our land for our younger generation," he said.

Similar support was also voiced by Pertubuhan Mamagun Sabah (PMS) which believes the State Government would emulate the move as it can prevent confusion that result in conflict among Bumiputera groups.

"Although this is regarded as very insignificant it can help to prevent confusion and ensure the identity of the ethnic groups is protected appropriately," said its Deputy President Dzulkifli Gunsika.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Adenan Satem was on Sunday reported as saying that through the efforts of Federal Ministers from Sarawak such as Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah and Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun, the indigenous groups such as the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu were no longer called "others" (Lain-lain) in the column for race in government official forms.

Adenan said they can now write Bumiputera Iban, Bumiputera Bidayuh, Bumiputera Melanau and Bumiputera Orang Ulu in the column for race, stressing that if the word "Lain-lain" appears they should just cancel it.

He also asked Sarawakian natives to cancel the word "Lain-Lain" if they still see it on Federal forms.

Penampang MP, Darell Leiking has suggested that the State Government change all its forms as well as request the State's Federal Secretary to remove and replace the Federal Government forms with a blank race column so that Sabahans can identify themselves in writing as to their ethnicity.

"Sabahans cannot be confined only to the three races stated in the current government documents," he said in a statement.

Leiking also said it is interesting to see the Sarawak Chief Minister having achieved so much in less than two years of office.

"It is also encouraging that Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan who has been a member of the Barisan Nasional State Government since 2001 (and who was also Chief Minister between 1985 and 1994) finally realised the description burdened the people of Sabah and that 'lain lain' can actually be changed," he said.

Expressing disappointment with such long overdue recognition, Leiking nevertheless believed that all is not lost yet for Sabah to regain her rightful position within the Federation of Malaysia.

He called on the BN State Cabinet members to emulate the "unannounced stealth move by the Sarawak CM via Sarawak's Federal Cabinet members in removing the 'Lain-lain' designation.

Leiking who brought up the issue on description of race in Parliament in March last year said the incapability shown by some of the State's political leaders had brought the State to a complete standstill and being outpaced by Sarawak's political progress due to the latter's determination to be known as equal partner in the Federation of Malaysia.

"While we are being encouraged by the success of the Sarawakians in addressing this longstanding issue, I personally feel ashamed that Sabah which used to be the lead in political change and reform has all but become a follower of political change.

"Sabahans are a brave lot and we have seen how a single spark had brought the revolution of the mind and imagination for Sabahans. It is weakness in some of our political leaders that has brought us to this standstill in innovation and made us second to the Sarawakians who I must say I envy with awe today," he said.

He, however, remained optimistic that the dream for a respected, united and highly competent Sabah is still achievable.

"With the public's demands and high expectations desired by Sabah youths today, a new breed of non-compliant to the normal type of leadership will emerge and the State will once again be the catalyst of change for the Borneo island.

"Consequent to that transformation, Sabah will be respected economically and politically as the equal partner intended therein the Malaysia Agreement, 1963," he said.

Star Sabah Chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, also said the move to do away with the "Lain-lain" in government forms administration and replacing them with Sarawak ethnic races was most welcome and long overdue.

He is calling for Sabah leaders to take the cue and follow suit to replace "Sabahan" for "Lain-lain" in Sabah.

In fact, the Sabah Government should not stop at the re-categorisation and should implement policies for the uplifting of the indigenous people of Sabah as provided in Article 41 of the Constitution of Sabah.

According to him, the Sabah government needs to do away with the derogatory "Lain-lain" as well as the divisive "Bumiputra Islam" and Bumiputra Bukan Islam" for the natives and restore the dignity of Sabahans.

Dr Jeffrey said the term "bumiputra" has no application in the Federal or Sabah Constitutions.

"By wrongly implementing the "Melayu/Bumiputra" policy, the Government is trampling on Article 41 as not every Melayu or Bumiputra is indigenous or native to Sabah.

"A Malay from Malaya or a newly-minted Malay from Indonesia with a new IC/MyKad has no business depriving the privileges and benefits reserved for the indigenous people under Article 41," he said.

"This can be seen from the numerous complaints that Indonesians have taken over and monopolising the transport, bus and taxi business as well as agriculture and the local "Tamu" all over Sabah, and of Pakistanis but with ICs who cannot even speak proper Bahasa Malaysia monopolising the food and retail businesses even in the interiors and small villages.

"Even local natives are deprived of places in educational institutions and unable to secure scholarships which are prioritised for "Malays/Bumiputras" who are not indigenous to Sabah," he said.

The marginalisation of indigenous natives must stop and priority should be diverted to the local indigenous natives which must include local Bajau, Suluk, Bisaya, Kedayan, Brunei, Sungei, Iranun, Ubian amongst others.

"Malays from Malaya and foreigners re-classified as Malays should not be depriving genuine Sabahans by government wrongly failing to implement Article 41," he said.

The beckoning question, he said, is would the State BN government leaders rise above political interest to make the change.


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