Sunday, December 5, 2021

Proposal to be made for more inclusive definition of Sarawak natives

Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar says the current definition under Article 161A of the Federal Constitution is limited and does not accurately reflect the diversity of natives in the state.

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Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar today said a proposal would be made for an amendment to the definition of “natives” under Article 161A of the Federal Constitution.

Speaking at a press conference in Kuching, he said this was important as the current definition is limited and does not accurately reflect the different native groups in Sarawak.

“The definition of natives needs be updated to reflect the numerous different races,” he said, adding that the present list of Sarawak natives only includes 23 ethnicities.

An update in the defition would allow the rest of the groups to be clearly recognised, he said.

“It is not convenient to categorise as ‘others’ or ‘lain-lain’ in this country as is usually found under the race category in official documents.

“By stating their races clearly, it will make these (native) people (who are usually categorised as ‘others’) feel respected,” he added.

Wan Junaidi said the bill would also seek to define Malaysia Day as Sept 16, 1963.

He said redefining the word “federation” as one established under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) would acknowledge Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the formation of Malaysia.

If passed, he said, it would be the first time that MA63 is acknowledged in the Federal Constitution.

“The constitution in its current form defines ‘Merdeka Day’, but not ‘Malaysia Day’. The definition of ‘federation’ in the constitution merely refers to the Federation of the Malaya Agreement 1957.”

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