Possible for non-native to get native status, says ex-MAIS deputy chairman

Nicholas Bawin Anggat

KUCHING, Feb 3: It is possible for a non-Sarawak native to be identified as ‘native’ as long as they fulfill certain criteria, said former Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS) deputy chairman Nicholas Bawin Anggat.

Bawin, who is familiar with the native ‘adat’ (custom law) and appears as an expert witness in many native customary rights (NCR) land cases, said he had assisted many Chinese to fill in the forms to apply for native status.

He said the application forms may be obtained at the Native Court but he was not aware of the status of application, or success rate of applications, since he had left MAIS about 15 years ago.

One of the main criteria is to speak the language of the native community the applicant wished to be identified with, Bawin said.

During the interview before the Magistrate of the Native Court, the applicant must show that he or she knows the culture and customs of that particular native community he or she wishes to identified with.

Additionally, Bawin said that the applicant must also prove that he or she had spent a period of time enabling him or her to familiarise themself with the ‘adat’ of that particular native community.

Most of the cases he had assisted with before involved locally born Sarawakians of mix culture marriage of Iban and Chinese, where the mother is an Iban.

“If the father is Iban there is no problem. But if the father is Chinese and mother is Iban, they need to apply under the law to be identified as native,” Bawin told DayakDaily.

When asked whether any foreign born non-Sarawakian can be identified as a local native, Bawin said he had no knowledge of that.

He also reserved his comments on the viral posts on social media claiming that Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Ragad Kurdi Taib and her two children are now officially Melanau.

Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen said he had obtained a copy of the state government’s Gazette from the Kuching High Court library confirming that Ragad is now Melanau. She is also a registered voter in the Pantai Damai state constituency and Santubong Parliament constituency. — DayakDaily