KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah opposition leader has taken the Warisan-led government to task for distancing itself from a state minister’s call to extend the “anak negeri” or native status to the Bugis and Javanese communities.
Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan said state Law and Native Affairs Minister Aidi Moktar was clearly speaking on behalf of the state government.
Jeffrey said Aidi had used the word “we” to refer to the state government, when he said the definition of natives would be reviewed to include the Bugis and Javanese who lived in Sabah for generations.
“The intention to recognise the Bugis and Javanese is clearly there, and this minister is talking on behalf of the Warisan government despite the denial and the U-turn,” he said.
He is also concerned that Aidi’s statement implied that the Bugis and Javanese communities as a whole could soon be classified as natives, and not just for individuals who arrived before 1963 when Sabah joined the Malaysian federation.
Jeffrey, who is also the deputy president of the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA), said the Sabah indigenous communities oppose the plan because most Bugis and Javanese settled down in Sabah after 1963.
“So, by making a sweeping statement to name the immigrant communities as the object of nativisation, Aidi is revealing a hidden agenda,” he said, without elaborating further.
Warisan had said Aidi’s statement was his personal opinion.
Aidi later said he had only stated that it was up to the state government to recognise the two groups as natives.
“I never said that the government will recognise the two ethnic groups; that will be left to the state government to discuss,” he had said.