Be serious in safeguarding native rights, says Jeffrey
The State Government should be serious in safeguarding native rights by amending and updating the relevant State laws rather than giving mere lip service, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat Vice President Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. In responding to a statement made by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan who said that the Government will safeguard native rights, Dr Jeffrey said that the Government must tell the people how it intends to do that and act on it. By allowing foreigners to acquire MyKads through dubious means and then do nothing to prevent these foreigners from claiming to be natives, the State Government has allowed the indigenous people to be robbed of their native rights, including lands, scholarships and economic opportunities that are reserved and accessible only to natives, he pointed out in a statement yesterday. “According to our Chief Judge, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, the loopholes in the Interpretation (Definition of Natives) Ordinance remained open for abuse and has in fact, been abused and taken advantage of in the issuance of Sijil Anak Negeri. Although the issuance of the Sijil Anak Negeri has been frozen since 1982, that does not prevent foreigners with Malaysian identity cards from claiming to be natives and exercising native rights privileges unless our laws are amended and consistent with our Federal and State Constitution. “One area of amendment would be the deletion of Section 2(1) (c) and (d) of the Interpretation (Definition of Natives) Ordinance. Both sections speak of natives of Sarawak and Brunei and the Republic of Indonesia, the Sulu group of islands in the Philippines, the states of Malaya, or the Republic of Singapore who may apply to the Native Court for the Sijil Anak Negeri despite not being a citizen of Malaysia. The omission of citizenship in the 1952 legislation is understandable and was relevant for the colonial Government at that material time,” he said. “However, now that Sabah has attained independence and has her own constitution, she has the right to change and regulate citizenship as well as people entering the State. Inherited colonial laws which are inconsistent with the constitution should be amended or abolished. The glaring inconsistency is the definition of natives under Section 2 (1) (c) and (d) vis-a-vis that of Article 41 (10) Sabah Constitution and Article 161A (6) Federal Constitution which provide a native as being a citizen, the child or grandchild of a person indigenous to Sabah. “This means, the requirement of citizenship is a must before a person can apply and be issued with the Sijil Anak Negeri. It must also be remembered that the possession of MyKad is not a guarantee that he or she is a genuine Malaysian citizen unless there is a local birth certificate,” said Jeffrey. “My concern is that the present law as it stands may allow many people from lndonesia, the Philippines, etc to apply for the Sijil Anak Negeri. With foreigners, including illegal immigrants already outnumbering locals, the threat to national security and the daylight robbery of our native rights are becoming real by the day. “If Datuk Pairin and the State Government leaders are serious, they should amend the relevant laws and look to Sarawak’s definition of natives as a guide. And the State should have the political will to do it now,” he added.