Bill to propose native status for mixed marriage children tabled in DUN today

Sharifah tables the Interpretation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the DUN sitting today (Feb 15, 2022).

By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Feb 15: A child from a mixed marriage may be considered as a native even if only one of their parents is a native, as proposed in the Interpretation (Amendment) Law, 2022.

The Bill, tabled and read for the second time today by Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, proposed to amend the Interpretation Ordinance, 2005 [Cap. 61] by including 12 additional races in the present Schedule.

Races that are to be considered as indigenous include Bagatan, Bakong, Bemali, Berawan, Dali, Lakiput, Jatti Miriek, Narom, Sa’ban, Tatau, Tring and Vaie.

The proposed amendment also included a new Section 63 that empowers the Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri (MMKN) to amend the Schedule in the event of any future addition to the races listed in the Schedule.

Sharifah said with this amendment, there is no longer a requirement that both parents of mixed marriages must be a native of Sarawak, as previously required.

“This is an extremely significant and historic amendment especially to the children of mixed marriages, as this amendment will resolve the serious and dire legal predicaments to many children of mix native and non-native parents in the area of inheritance and transfer of native lands and many more other matters,” she added.

Meanwhile, to counter exploitations and abuse of the native status, she said additional conditions and requirements shall be imposed before a person is recognised as a native of Sarawak.

This is in addition to the preexisting criteria that he or she must be a citizen and a natural born child of a native of Sarawak.

“Apart from that, this amendment will not have any effect on any rights and privileges (other than the determination of native status) made or occurring prior to the date of coming into force of this Ordinance and which has been decided by a court of competent jurisdiction or by a competent authority.

“This means that these amendments will not be retrospective,” she said in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

The proposed amendment is done principally to align the Interpretation Ordinance with the recent amendments to the Federal Constitution passed in Parliament on Dec 14, 2021. — DayakDaily