Ordinance on native status pending drafting of conditions, requirements to be imposed, says Sharifah Hasidah

Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali (file photo)

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KUCHING, July 14: The Interpretation (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 to confer native status on the Sarawak offspring of mixed`marriages has been gazetted on Feb 25, 2022, but the Sarawak government is in the midst of drafting the conditions and requirement to be imposed before the Ordinance can come into force.

Deputy Minister in the Premier of Sarawak’s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali clarified this in responding to Ba’Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian who had recently questioned the delay in gazetting the amended definition of ‘native’ in Sarawak.

In February this year, the Interpretation (Amendment) Bill 2022 was unanimously passed in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), conferring native status to children of mixed marriages, in which only one parent needs to be of an indigenous race.

“The Ordinance which was passed in DUN on Feb 15, 2022 was published in Sarawak Gazette on Feb 25, 2022. Nevertheless, the said Ordinance has yet to come into force.

“The State government is in the midst of drafting the conditions and requirement to be imposed by Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri for recognition of a person (who is a citizen and natural born child of a person of a race indigenous to Sarawak) as a native of Sarawak as stipulated in the said Ordinance,” Sharifah Hasidah said in a statement today.

To safeguard the special position and rights of the natives of Sarawak as enshrined under the Federal Constitution, she pointed out that the State government needs to ensure that the said conditions and requirements are suitable, reasonable, practical and more importantly are not redundant when lined up with current conditions, requirements and process.

“In order to achieve this and in drafting of such conditions and requirements, the State government has directed the relevant government agencies such as Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak, the Native Courts of Sarawak, and the State Secretary’s Office together with the State Attorney-General’s Chambers to look into this matter holistically,” she said.

Once the draft is done, Sharifah Hasidah said the conditions and requirements will be presented to Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri for approval, after which for implementation the Ordinance will be gazetted for enforcement.

Meanwhile, Baru in a statement on July 12 highlighted that the children of mixed marriages had been encountering various problems in matters of land transfers, inheritance, entry into educational institutions and others due to the ambiguities, confusion or perhaps refusal of some bodies or institutions to accept the wider definition of ‘native’ to include children of mixed marriages.

He added that the natives of Sarawak were understandably elated when the amendment was passed in February, thinking that their native status was finally being recognised.

However, Baru who is also the Selangau MP, highlighted that many are still encountering obstacles in land transfers and other matters as the amendment has not yet been gazetted, thus urging that the process to be expedited without further delay. — DayakDaily