By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 15: Pelagus assemblyman Wilson Nyabong Ijang hopes that political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will not use the amendment that recognises the children of mixed marriages as natives to fan the flames of racism and factionalism.
He raised this when debating the Interpretation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the august House today, while emphasising that the amendment should be looked at positively and be used to unite the people of Sarawak and engage stakeholders to become contributing citizens of the State.
“We hope that this amendment will encourage more and more people to realise that since their children are considered natives, they will be eligible for State assistance for education, business, training, etc and will be encouraged to stay and develop local talents,” he told the august House.
Nyabong pointed out that the recognition of children of mixed marriages as natives will bring many positive benefits to Sarawak including allaying fears of parents, increasing the population of native-born citizens and stopping brain drain.
“Recognising these children as natives and giving them the same rights and privileges will allay the fears of the parents that their children will be considered as non-natives of this land.
“It will also allay the anxiety and apprehension among the newlyweds about the status of their children.
“It will increase the population of native-born citizens who will be able to take up jobs and positions in the State in the future.
“It will also increase the number of people in Sarawak who will not leave, thus retaining valuable human resources and creating a huge pool of local talent and productive citizens who will stay back and develop the State in the future,” he said.
Nyabong also expressed support for the amendment to add 12 additional races to the Schedule of the Interpretation Ordinance as races considered to be indigenous native of Sarawak namely Bagatan, Bakong, Bemali, Berawan, Dali, Lakiput, Jatti, Miriek, Narom, Sa’ban, Tatau, Tring and Vaie.
“I feel the six major groups identified in the Sarawak Constitution are not complete and it is imperative that we classify the indigenous people by their proper ethic background.
“The 31 groups (or 46 if the sub-groups are considered as in the proposed bill) gives the identity to all in a fair and just way,” he said.
Nyabong added that this historic bill has been proposed at the right time as the amendments are important to give native people their identity, recognise their rights and privileges, as well as be deserving of care.
“The passing of this bill will help our citizens now and in the future to identify their ethnicity and when it is in the constitution, it will solve problems related to birth documentation, government assistance etc. The people do not have to fear that their ethnicity is unknown.
“It will help each group to freely express their customs, culture, language and traditions without any trepidations.
“Now every ethnic group that populates this land will be recognised and no one has to be left out,” he said.
The land of Sarawak, he elaborated, is blessed not only with boundless natural resources, mighty rivers and ample land but its true blessing is in the people that inhabit this wondrous State.
“To have so many ethnic groups living in harmony and with the ability to accept and tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies is indeed a feat that we all need to be proud of,” he added. — DayakDaily