Proposed amendment to give Sarawak power to define ‘natives’

Wan Junaidi (right) sharing a light moment with media personnel at the programme with the Sarawak media held at Pullman Hotel on Oct 15, 2021.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Oct 15: One of the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution which will be tabled in Parliament soon is to return the power to determine the meaning of the term ‘natives’ to Sarawak.

Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the amendment would seek to remove the definition of ‘natives’ in Article 161A of the Federal Constitution and have it placed under State jurisdiction instead.


“Whenever there is an additional (ethnic) group discovered, such as the Miriek in Miri and another ethnic group in Bintulu for instance, which are not yet listed as ‘natives’, it will be difficult for us to amend the Federal Constitution from time to time.

“If it is established under State laws and accepted by our Majlis Adat Istiadat, then it will be alright and doable anytime and the process will be much easier,” he told reporters at a programme with the Sarawak media at Pullman Hotel in Kuching today.

Wan Junaidi, who is also Santubong MP, said that the amendment, if approved, would enable children of mixed marriages to be defined as native as long as one of their parents is a Sarawak native.

He explained that at present, over 35 per cent of Sarawakian children are of mixed marriages between Sarawakian Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras but according to the Federal Constitution, they are not considered as Bumiputeras (native).

One of the many reasons, he said, was because that particular individual may belong to one of the ethnic groups which are not listed in the definition of ‘natives’ in the Federal Constitution.

Wan Junaidi, whose wife is a Chinese, also shared that his child was not considered native based on the definition, unless a request for native status is made to the Native Court.

“There are thousands of requests now pending a decision. We want to do away with that, so we will give the power to Sarawak to decide on the issue,” he added. — DayakDaily