"Mangkang Menua,Mangkang Dunya,Ngetan Ke Bansa!!"

December 13, 2009

Write this, they are bumis

KUCHING – The Ministry of Higher Education has informed all public universities that the Government has issued an administrative order recognising as “bumiputras” the people of Sabah and Sarawak where either parent is a bumiputra.

In a two-paragraph circular dated Nov 23, distributed to public universities, government agencies and departments, the ministry said: “For general information, the government has agreed to recognise as ‘bumiputras’ the people of Sabah and Sarawak where either parent is a bumiputra.

“The government has also directed all ministries, departments and government agencies to implement the said decision.”

Clear as day

The circular clearly mentioned that if one of the parents is a bumiputra and the other is a non-bumiputra, the offspring from the marriage are considered bumiputras as far as access to higher education is concerned.

It is not clear, however, if such offspring are entitled to privileges and rights of natives as spelt out in 161A (6) (a) of the Federal Constitution which says “in relation to Sarawak who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the State or is mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races;”

Clause (7) says “the races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of “native” in Clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kalabits, Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sabups, and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Melanaos, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.”

Fears remain

“While we welcome the government decision, we are still not comfortable unless Article 161A (a) is amended,” said a veteran lawyer whose children come from a mixed marriage.

“Can my children be entitled to privileges and rights as spelt out in Article 153 of the Constitution such as in business, housing, loans, permits, ASB investments, etc?” asked the lawyer who did not want to be identified.

“The reason why we are still not comfortable is because any time the government feels it wants to revoke the order, it can do so.

“I believe it (order) is not legally binding.”

The Marina Undau factor

The administrative order came in the wake of criticisms by politicians and the public against the decision of the Ministry of Higher Education to bar a mixed parentage student from enrolling in a matriculation course.

The ministry had said Marina Undau was not eligible as she was not a bumiputra even though her father is an Iban.  Her mother is Chinese.

Marina has now been accepted into a public university.

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