The Federal and Sarawak governments must decide quickly on the nativity of children from mixed parentage before the issue blows up in their faces in the coming elections.
KUCHING: Nativity is a sensitive issue and the federal government’s interference has once again stirred a hornet. This time its the case of an Iban retiree whose daughter’s application to study in University Teknologi Mara (UiTM) was rejected because her mother is Chinese.
Reminiscent of the 2009 case involving another student Marina Undau, the dilemma facing children of mixed native parentage is back to haunt Sarawakians even as the ruling Barisan Nasional here and in the peninsular face a grueling impending general election
Esther Bartholomew’s father is an Iban fron Nanga Bunut in Kanowit district and mother Chinese. Her application to UiTM was rejected as she is considered non-Iban.
Reacting to this, Sarawak PKR Chief Baru Bian appealed to both the Federal and State governments to amend the Federal and Sarawak constitutions in respect to the offspring of mixed parentage (native and non-native couples).
“The law must be clear on this. You recall this was a big issue about Marina Undau a few years back. You recall I brought it up in the last sitting of the State Assembly, and our stand then and now is that the law on this (issue) must be made clear.
“It is important that the law – the Federal and State constitutions – be amended in order to make it very clear (on the status of children from mixed native parentage),” he added.
Bian, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman said when he had raised the issue in the assembly in 2009, he was told that ” it was a (Federal) cabinet decision.”
“I told them (the assembly) then that it will not prevent the same incident occuring in the future.
“Now exactly the same problem, the same scenario has happened again.
“We are calling for amendments to the relevant laws to make it very clear otherwise you are dealing with the matter piece by piece, which will cause lot of problems and trauma for others like Esther. Now her entry to university will be delayed again for another term or another year,” he said.
Bian is calling for amendments to Article 161 A of the Federal Constitution.
Article 161 A defines ‘native’ in relation to Sarawak as: “a person whom is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the state or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races;
“(Clause 7): The races to be treated for the purposes of definition of ‘native’ in Clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kelabits, Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Malanos, Murut, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits”.
(Sea Dayak, Land Dayak and Murut have since been changed to Iban, Bidayuh and Lun Bawang respectively).
Esther has appealed to Taib Meanwhile, Esther’s father Bartholomew Aji Lanyau claimed that UiTM student selection committee had told her that she was not a bumiputera because her mother is Chinese.
He said that he could not afford to send his daughter to a private college as his income as a retiree was insufficient to cover the cost.
Esther, 23, has written an appeal to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, Land Development Minister James Masing and Social Development Minister William Mawan Ikom and the state education department.
In the letter she said that a Malaysian like her whose father is a Dayak should be recognised as a bumiputera following a decision made by the federal cabinet on Marina’s case.
She is yet to receive any reply.
Like Marina’s case, Esther’s non-bumiputera issue is certain to cause uproar in Sarawak especially when the general election comes around.