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Do Away With “Lain-lain” and “Bumiputra” in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu:     “The move by the Chief Minister of Sarawak to do away with the categorization of Sarawakians as “Others” or “Lain-lain” in government administration and replacing them with Sarawak ethnic races is most welcome and long overdue.   Sabah leaders should take the cue and follow suit to replace “Sabahan” for “Lain-lain” in Sabah” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, commenting on the move by the CM of Sarawak.

In fact, the Sabah government should not stop at the re-categorization and should implement policies for the upliftment of the indigenous people of Sabah as provided in Article 41 of the Constitution of Sabah.   Article 41 provides:-

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.

(3) The Yang di-Pertua Negeri may, in order to ensure in accordance with clause (2) the participation by Natives in the public service and in the receipt of scholarships, exhibitions and other educational or training privileges or special facilities, give such general directions as may be required for that purpose to the Commission, or to any authority charged with responsibility for the grant of such scholarships, exhibitions or other educational or training privileges or special facilities; and Commission or authority shall duly comply with the directions.

The Sabah government need to do away with the derogatory “Lain-lain” as well as the divisive “Bumiputra Islam” and Bumiputra Bukan Islam” for the natives and restore the dignity of Sabahans.

There is no reason to divide the indigenous people by religion except to help Umno/Malaya and Putrajaya to racially divide the natives and marginalize and sideline the non-Muslims.   

The term “bumiputra” has no application in the Federal or Sabah Constitutions.  By wrongly implementing the “Melayu/Bumiputra” policy, the government is trampling on Article 41 as not every Melayu or Bumiputra is indigenous or native to Sabah.   A Malay from Malaya or a newly-minted Malay from Indonesia with a new IC/MyKad have no business depriving the privileges and benefits reserved for the indigenous people under Article 41.

This can be seen from the numerous complaints that Indonesians have taken over and monopolizing the transport, bus and taxi business as well as agriculture and the local “Tamu” all over Sabah, and of Pakistanis but with ICs who cannot even speak proper Bahasa Malaysia monopolizing the food and retail businesses even in the interiors and small villages.

Even local natives are deprived of places in educational institutions and unable to secure scholarships which are prioritized for “Malays/Bumiputras” who are not indigenous to Sabah.

All this nonsense and marginalization of indigenous natives must stop and priority should be diverted to the local indigenous natives which must include local Bajau, Suluk, Bisaya, Kedayan, Brunei, Sungei, Iranun, Ubian amongst others.   Malays from Malaya and foreigners re-classified as Malays should not be depriving genuine Sabahans by government wrongly failing to implement Article 41. 

The big question is will the Sabah government and Sabah BN leaders do away with the categorization of Sabahans as “Lain-Lain” and “Bumiputra Islam and Bumiputra Non-Islam”?  

Will they rise above individual and party political interests and stand up to Putrajaya and take pro-active action in the common interest of Sabahans and the indigenous people while at the same time ensuring that the legitimate interests of the general population are safeguarded?

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