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Empower Sabah Natives, Implement Article 41 Sabah Constitution - Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu:  “The federal and Sabah governments are trampling the Sabah Constitution and not honouring native rights and privileges by wrongly enforcing bumiputra policies in Sabah” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, in response to announcements by the DPM and Chief Minister on Sabah bumiputra empowerment.

Not all bumiputra are natives although all natives are necessarily bumiputra.  Similarly, not all Malays are natives.  However, non-Muslim bumiputra in Sabah lose everything when the governments divide the Sabah and Sarawak bumiputra into “bumiputra Islam” and “bumiputra bukan Islam” and the former get better treatment and privileges compared to the latter.

“Why then this classification and continuing to segregate the people in Sabah and ignoring the natives?” asked Dr. Jeffrey.

Both governments need to do away with the classification of bumiputra in Sabah and abolish the Sabah bumiputra empowerment program and policies and officially adopt the use of the term “natives” and implement Sabah native empowerment as provided under Article 41 of the Constitution of Sabah. 

Article 41 states:-
41.   Safeguarding position of Natives. 
  1. It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri to safeguard the special position of the Natives and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
  2. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and under State Law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special position of the Natives, and to ensure such degree of participation by Natives as he may deem reasonable in the public service of the State, and in the receipt of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by or with the approval of the State Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by State Law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, in such trade or business.

Officially and unofficially, it cannot be denied that the Sabah natives lag behind in practically everything and everyone else and form the majority of the poorest of the poor.

And we are not talking of KDMs alone but all the 31 or so ethnic tribes in Sabah, be they be Bajau, Suluk, Iranun, Kedayan, Rungus, Bisaya, Brunei, Ubian, Lundayeh, Kagayan, Simonol, Sibutu, Tatana, Sungei, Lotud, Gana, Kimaragang, Sunsugon, Tambanuo, and the like.

The federal/Malayan leaders may have a hidden agenda to marginalize and disenfranchise Sabahans and Sabah natives but the Sabah government should not be taken in with grandeur of the bumiputra/Malay agenda and promote the bumiputra empowerment program when their duty and obligation is to safeguard the special position of the Sabah natives.

The esteemed TYT and the Sabah government are under a statutory duty and moral obligation under Article 41 of the Sabah Constitution to safeguard and promote the interests of the Sabah natives while looking after the legitimate interests of the other communities.

“I strongly urge the Sabah government to return to the correct path and set up a non-partisan “Sabah Native Empowerment Council” and start formulating a “Sabah Native Empowerment Agenda” and implement native empowerment programs and policies immediately” concluded Dr. Jeffrey.

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