KOTA KINABALU: A local NGO for the rights of the Sabah natives has urged the state government to take care of Sabah’s original natives instead of playing politics with the Bugis and Javanese.
Speaking to FMT here today, Hak Asak Rakyat Untuk Sabah (Harus) spokesman Joseph Philip said he found it peculiar that the state government seemed unwilling to retract its statement to review the rights of the Bugis and Javanese as natives of Sabah.
“Isn’t it strange now that they want to do this when even original natives of Sabah, like the Kadazandusun, the Bajau-Sama or the Murut, are not even listed as natives in the Interpretation (Definition of Native) Ordinance?
“The question should be, why now?
“Is it because Warisan wants to soothe the feelings of the Bugis and Javanese people, who are leaning towards a certain Malayan-based party?” he said after attending a protest against the recognition of Bugis and Javanese as natives here today.
Today’s protest, which was held at the Double Six monument, was attended by some 100 people. They were given only 30 minutes to gather before being asked to disperse by the police.
Whatever the reason behind the unexpected statement by the Law and Native Affairs Minister Aidi Moktar, Philip said the former shariah court judge should retract the statement and even consider resigning from his post as he is unqualified for the job.
He also questioned why Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is viewing the whole issue as racism when the natives are only trying to defend their rights as the original people of Sabah.
“We are not racists. We just want to ensure the rights and privileges of the real natives of the land are guaranteed and not taken away from our children one day.
“The Bugis and Javanese people are not indigenous to Sabah. They are not natives, no matter how the government wants to look at it.
“We are strongly against the current administration’s plan of using race and customary rights as their tools for political mileage,” he said.
‘Include original natives of Sabah in list’
Supporting Philip’s statement, event organiser Winnie Juani urged the Sabah government to amend the interpretation ordinance to include original natives of Sabah in the list as soon as possible.
Last year, she said Aidi’s assistant minister, Jannie Lasimbang, had said the issue will be reviewed although the ministry did not give any deadline when this review will be completed.
“We want the Kadazandusun, Murut, Bajau, Orang Sungai, Rungus and all the other natives to be included in the list. Is the government willing to do this?”
Currently, most of the big ethnic groups, including the Kadazandusun and Murut, are not explicitly listed in the Sabah Interpretation (Definition of Native) Ordinance 1958.
The ordinance explicitly mentions only five ethnic groups as natives — the Suluk, Kagayan, Simonol, Sibutu and Ubian — all of whom are to be found mainly in east coast areas.
Many benefits accrue to those listed as natives, not least being land ownership and the right to claim certain lands under native customary rights.
A non-native Sabahan can only own “country lease lands” while a native can apply for native title lands, usually meant for agriculture.
At present, the Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Bajau, Bisaya, Rungus, Lotud and many other groups are lumped into two sub-clauses of the Interpretation Ordinance but the names of their particular ethnic groups are not mentioned.
Efforts in the past to list the various native ethnic groups were shelved due to controversies when other ethnic groups, whose origins do not lie in Sabah, had also demanded that they be included as natives under this ordinance.