Bill to update list of Sarawak natives approved unanimously

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KUCHING, Feb 15: Sarawak State Legislative Assembly has unanimously passed the Interpretation (Amendment) Bill 2022 which among others update the list of indigenous races in the state.

Tabled by Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister‘s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Syeed Aman Ghazali, the Bill received support from lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

She said the amendment was done principally to add 12 additional races in the Schedule of the Interpretation Ordinance and to give effect to the recent amendment in Clause (6)(a) of Article 161A Federal Constitution on the indigenous races of Sarawak   

The 12 additional races included in the proposed amendment are Bagatan, Bakong, Bemali, Berawan, Dali, Lakiput, Jatti Miriek, Narom, Sa’ban, Tatau, Tring and Vaie.

“Also, under this proposed amendment, a child from a mixed marriage may be considered as a native even if only one of his or her parents is a native, subject to the conditions and requirements to be imposed by the State Executive Council.

“With this amendment, a child will be considered a native as long as either parent is a native. There is no longer a requirement that both parents must be a native of Sarawak, as previously required,” she said.

Baru Bian (PSB-Ba’Kelalan) who debated on the Bill said the amendment to update the list of races considered to be indigenous to Sarawak is timely and welcomed by all Sarawakians, especially those from the native communities which had been excluded from the old list. 

“I believe, as do all other natives of Sarawak, that all children of mixed marriages between natives and non-natives should be recognised as native. If this is not done, many Sarawakians would lose their native status. Eventually, there will be no natives left in Sarawak,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gerawat Gala (GPS-Mulu) said the amendment could address the grievances and provide an avenue for children of mixed marriages to be recognised as natives of Sarawak.

“The amendment is welcomed by children of mixed marriages who have felt deprived of their native inheritance. Many children of mixed marriages take pride and greatly value their native inheritance, customs, tradition and ancestry and they are accepted as natives by their community,” he added.

The state assembly sitting continues tomorrow.


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