Defining who is native
Published on: Sunday, August 11, 2019
By: Larry Ralon

Photo Source: Bernama
PENAMPANG: The Law and Native Affairs Ministry, together legal experts in the State, are looking at existing laws at State-level, including the interpretation (definition of Native) Ordinance (Sabah Cap.64), with a view to strengthening it so as to make it clearer and better for the benefit of all.      

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said that was one of the main reasons why the said Ministry was set up under the new State Government. 

“Because we have anticipated it, including that there will be no end to the continuing debates and arguments on such related matters. 

“I have asked the Minister Datuk Aidi Moktar as well as my friends like Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Datuk Steven Foo and few other judges as well as law experts, including those already retired, to look at the existing laws at the State-level so to improve and strengthen them. 

“So that they can be clearly explained to the people. This is important to end the endless debates and arguments which are consuming so much time and energy. Much of our time we spent on all these, when we should be using the time and energy to focus on feeding our people, provide jobs and improve the economy of the State. 

“It is equally important for us to focus on the State’s economic development. It is meaningless if we only voice out all these but the Muruts are still backward...Datuk Dr Richard Gunting (Chairman of Sedco) and Dr Lucas Umbul (Chairman of Safoda), make sure the village people get the help and development they need,” he said when officiating the State-level World Indigenous Peoples Day at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Hongkod Koisaan,  Saturday.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, who is the main organising committee chairperson, and other state leaders and presidents of ethnic associations were also present. 

Mohd Shafie noted that the interpretation (definition of Native) Ordinance (Sabah Cap.64) was among the main matters discussed during an indigenous people forum held earlier in conjunction with the event.

“We will listen. There were a lot of issues raised (in the forum) including on the definition…we anticipated that this matter will be brought up. So we will ensure it will not only be listened to but the Ministry will look at it,” he said. 

Tangau in his speech said the indigenous participants of the forum chaired by Assoc. Prof. Dr Andreas Totu, who is also the Kadazandusun Chair of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), wants the definition on natives to be reviewed by a committee to be participated by representatives of all stakeholders concerned. 

“The definition of natives was the hottest issue talked about during the forum. As it is, the definition on who is categorised as native is not that consistent,” he said, citing  political intervention and political interests on the matter. 

“Thus far, it is under the interpretation (definition of Native) Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 64.). The forum wants this definition to be re-studied by a committee participated by representatives from all the stakeholders,” said Tangau. 

He said the forum also had a lengthy discussion on the worries about the presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah. Their concerns were on the tendency of illegals getting documentats easily and illegally that allowed them to qualify as indigenous people.

“Also raised were land matters, involvement in politics and what is appropriately done by the indigenous people for a better tomorrow. The committee will compile all the findings and forward it to the Chief Minister soon,” he said. 

Also discussed were the various challenges and problems faced by the world’s indigenous people. “Wherever it is, the indigenous community is normally at the bottom of social and economic ladder. 

“Cannot be denied that many among us are still in the moderate and middle economic class category. But there are still many more members of the indigenous community who are still backward in various aspects. So it is our responsibility to ensure they get the attention from those holding the ruling mandate

“To me, it is better late than never. This Government is determined to ensure the vision of our founding fathers, as encapsulated in the MA63, and somewhat affirmed by UNDRIP, this government is resolved to simply, live it as it is.

“Being indigenous means to live within one’s roots. We must always be in the place where we are. Our community must enliven MA63, and UNDRIP, and the new Sabah. This is our struggle, this is the lifeline of this Government,” he said. 


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