KOTA KINABALU: Upko, Warisan’s ally in the state government, has sternly objected to any idea of classifying Bugis and Javanese as natives of Sabah.
Its Youth chief, Felix Joseph Saang, said they are opposed to any such proposal, adding that it was clearly stated in the Federal Constitution that the Bugis and Javanese are not considered natives of the state.
“Based on item 6(b) of Article 161A of the Federal Constitution, it is clear that the Bugis and Javanese communities are not natives of Sabah.
“This has nothing to do with us being racist. This is an extremely sensitive issue.
“Personally, I think that Sabah has the best example of tolerance and respect among different races. However, there are certain limits that need to be adhered to,” he said here today.
Item 6(b) of Article 161A of the Federal Constitution states that “native” means, in relation to Sabah, a person who is a citizen, is the child or grandchild of a person of a race indigenous to Sabah, and was born (whether on or after Malaysia Day or not) either in Sabah or to a father domiciled in Sabah at the time of the birth.
As such, Saang contended that the position of the Bugis and Javanese communities is similar to that of other races which migrated to Malaysia from other countries.
“We are not questioning their citizenship status because some of them have been staying here long before the formation of Malaysia.
“But we concur with our president, Wilfred Madius Tangau, that the Bugis and Javanese communities are simply not natives of Sabah. They originated from Indonesia,” he said.
In Peninsular Malaysia, Saang said the question of whether the Bugis and Javanese communities could be accorded native status did not arise.
“It is irrelevant since the Native Court institution is unique to Sabah. There is no necessity to appoint a Bugis or a Javanese as the ketua anak negeri, or native chief, in the peninsula,” he said.
Sabah Law and Native Affairs Minister Aidi Moktar had come under fire for allegedly saying the state government will recognise the Bugis and Javanese as natives, an allegation that he has since denied.
Aidi yesterday clarified what he said was that it was up to the Sabah government to decide whether to accept these two communities as natives or not.
Tangau had, in a Twitter post following news reports on Aidi’s alleged remarks, said: “I beg to differ with my colleague, Datuk Aidi, on this one. The Bugis are not indigenous to Sabah! Jawa is not indigenous to Sabah.
“Under the definition of Bumiputera in the Federal Constitution, yes. They are Bumiputeras but certainly not a native,” he said.
“Netizens reminded me that there is no definition of Bumiputera in the Federal Constitution. Yes, it is true! However, there is a definition of a ‘Malay’ and a Malay is a Bumiputera, under which the Javanese and Bugis are included.”
Meanwhile, Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking defended Aidi, telling a local daily yesterday that it was also time for the Sabah government to consider a previous proposal by the Sabah Law Society (SLS) to amend the Interpretation (Definition of Native) Ordinance (Sabah Cap 64).
Daily Express quoted him as saying: “The government has yet to decide on the native status of the non-natives, such as the Bugis and Javanese. Hence, those who had applied for native or district chief positions have to wait until a decision has been made.”