PETALING JAYA: The law that allows children of mixed parentage in Sarawak to be recognised as Bumiputera meets the aspirations and demands of the state’s people, said National Council of Professors senior fellow Datuk Dr Jeniri Amir.
“It gives parents in mixed marriages peace of mind because their children can now enjoy the benefits of being natives of the state and easily apply for jobs. This creates a bigger talent pool as they can help contribute to the state economy.
“Sarawak is pragmatic and it does not have the prejudice that exists elsewhere. Everyone is treated equally and this creates social cohesion and integration.”
Jeniri said there are Bumiputera in the Peninsula who are Orang Asli and Peranakan but children of mixed marriages do not have Bumiputera rights.
“So, it is up to the federal government and politicians on both sides of the divide to push for the same law in the Peninsula.”
He said whether there would be such a law is hard to say, but politicians in the Peninsular should work towards promoting cohesion and not continue with the divisive politics they are promoting currently, adding that they should put the country first and not their own interests.
Deputy minister in the Sarawak Premier’s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said children of mixed parentage could own native land and have native or Bumiputera status to enter public universities and tertiary institutions.
She said this would take effect from Nov 1, in line with the provisions of the Interpretation (Amendment) Ordinance 2022, adding that the qualifying criteria are very simple.
“For any person to be recognised as a native of Sarawak, he or she must be a Malaysian citizen, a natural born child of a person of a race indigenous to Sarawak, and one of his or her parents a person of a race indigenous to Sarawak.”
She said “native” also means those having “Bumiputera” status, and applications for native recognition could be made at any district office in the state, where the forms, costing RM100 each, would be made available.
Sharifah Hasidah said the Sarawak government would establish a committee chaired by the state secretary to review and consider applications for native recognition.
University of Tasmania Asia Institute Prof James Chin said this is not a new law but has now been codified under the state, and no state government would be able to overturn it.
He said the law is good for Sarawak as it meets the aspirations of the people due to the high number of mixed marriages.
“With Bumiputera status, they can apply for Amanah Saham Bumiputera shares, and get discounts for house purchases, among others. Most importantly, it will help to further integrate the people of Sarawak.”
Chin said it is harder to introduce a similar law in the Peninsula because politicians have been using race and religion to divide the people.
He added that the Bumiputera status for Orang Asli and others is mainly for administrative purposes and it does not carry any power of law with it.
Chin said if there was such a law in Peninsular Malaysia, governments would be powerless to remove it.
“Only when politicians stop playing the race and religion card and put the people first can the nation see changes.”