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Sabah Gov’t to ‘define’ terms Putrajaya created

almost 3 years ago jayeff



This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.

Joseph Francis

The Sabah Government must not be burdened with the task of defining terms that Putrajaya created to replace the lain-lain category on official forms in the state.

COMMENT The Federal Government, after announcing that the lain-lain (others) category would be done away with in official forms in Borneo, has since placed the onus on the Sabah Government to define the Anak Negeri Sabah (Sabah Native) and Bumiputera Sabah terms for gazetting purposes. These two categories along with Bukan-Bumiputera (not Bumiputera) replace the lain-lain category in official forms.

Putrajaya, in taking a leaf from officialdom in the peninsula on the Bumiputera category, appears to have stirred a hornet’s nest in Sabah in particular. Hence, the decision to place the onus on the Sabah Government to define Anak Negeri Sabah (Sabah Native) and Bumiputera Sabah for gazetting purposes.

It must be pointed out that it was the Federal Government that came up with the three categories to replace the lain-lain category in Sabah. Having done so, why must the Sabah Government be burdened now with the task of defining two of these categories?

Only the larger Dusunic Grouping and the Murutic Grouping in Sabah are considered Orang Asal, a term synonymous with original people, aborigine, indigenous, Native and Bumiputera.

“The Cabinet will wait for the gazetting before the new forms can be used,” said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Maximus Jonity Ongkili (see pix), also Joint Chairman of the Cabinet Committee which studied the possibility of doing away with the lain-lain category in official forms used in Sabah and Sarawak. “This is to prevent abuse by others who may claim to be Native or Bumiputera Sabah.”

Sarawak Opposition Chief Baru Bian, a senior lawyer in private practice and Ba’Kelalan Assemblyman, however feels that the Federal Constitution should include the term Dayak which covers all Orang Asal (original people) in Borneo including Sabah and Sarawak. Generally, the term Dayak is used in Malaysia only in Sarawak.

Baru also called for the Federal Constitution to be amended in line with the Sarawak Constitution which has dropped older terms like Land Dayak, Sea Dayak and Murut and replaced them with Bidayuh, Iban and Lun Bawang.

Besides Land Dayak, Sea Dayak and Murut, the Federal Constitution defines Sarawak Natives as Bukitan, Bisayah, Dusun, Kadayan, Kalabit, Kayan, Kenyah (including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajang (including Sekapan and Kejaman, Lahanan, Punan, Tanjong and Kanowit), Lugat, Lisum, Malay, Melanau, Penan, Sian, Tagal, Tabun and Ukit.

Bisayah, Dusun and the Kun Bawang can also be found in Sabah. In Sabah, the Lun Bawang are called Lun Dayeh. At the same time, there’s a Murut category in Sabah which is separate from the Murut in Sarawak, the latter now known as Lun Bawang.

In Sarawak, henceforth, the lain-lain category has been scrapped by a government policy decision to substitute with the term Dayak to describe the Orang Asal – again synonymous with original people, indigenous, aborigine, Native and Bumiputera – from the Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau and Orang Ulu sub-groups. The Orang Laut would continue to be under the Malay (Sarawak) category.

In the peninsula, Muslim migrants from Sulawesi, Java, Sumatra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Arab states among others were included in the newly-created Bumiputera (sons of the soil) category by the Tunku Abdul Rahman administration. It was the British who codified the term Malay to describe them since they used Bahasa to communicate with each other.

Article 160 (Interpretation) in the Federal Constitution which defines Malay, does not refer to them as Orang Asal (original people), indigenous, aborigine, Native or Bumiputera.

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Picture Credit: KeTTHA