Mixed marriages involving natives raise issue of automatic native status for offspring

Native musician Alena questions why as the child of a mixed parentage of a native and a non-native, she has to apply for native status at “Sunday Morning with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs” organised by DayakDayak and Pewarta (Pertubuhan Wartawan Bebas Kuching) at a local hotel here today (Sept 27, 2020).

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Sept 27: The Sarawak government encourages mixed marriages and will look into the amendment of the relevant laws to allow the children of mixed marriages which involved natives to assume native status automatically.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said mixed marriages have always been Sarawak’s way of life.

“Whether we will amend the law, we will see. That one, I can’t give you an exact answer.  Let us study.  But we encourage mixed marriages.

“This (the common practice of mixed marriage) is the beauty of Sarawak, there is already common understanding among us,” said Abang Johari.


He was replying to Sarawak’s native musician Alena Murang’s question at “Sunday Morning with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs” organised by DayakDaily and Pewarta (Pertubuhan Wartawan Bebas Kuching) at a local hotel here today.

Abang Johari at “Sunday Morning with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs” organised by DayakDayak and Pewarta (Pertubuhan Wartawan Bebas Kuching) at a local hotel here today (Sept 27, 2020).

Alena is of Kelabit-English mixed parentage. Under the law, children of such marriages, will have to apply to the Native Court to assume the native status.  The status is not granted to them automatically.

“Why do I need to apply to the Native Court?  It is our birth right to be native. It would be like a woman applying to be a woman. I am a native woman. I should not go to apply (for native status,” she said.

The situation where she being the daughter of a native has to apply for the native status is “discriminatory and unfair”.

“Is there any plan to include children of mixed marriage as natives? Would you consider amending the law?” Alena asked.

Citing his own marriage to his wife, Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, who is biologically of Chinese descent but was adopted by a Malay family, Abang Johari affirmed mixed marriages and stressed on the beauty of diverse cultures in Sarawak.

He likened different cultures in Sarawak as rivers and streams of different colours. These rivers or streams may exude different hues but when they converge into the sea, they all assume the same blue colour.  To Abang Johari, this is the exact analogy of diverse cultures in Sarawak where all cultures may finally converge into one big Sarawak culture.-DayakDaily