KOTA KINABALU, Feb 13 — Sabah will soon submit a list of 42 ethnic groups and over 200 sub-ethnic groups to the federal government that will finally do away with the controversial “lain lain” (others) race column in official government forms.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said he will table the list to be endorsed by the state Cabinet this February 18 before bringing it to Putrajaya and specifically, the National Registration Department.
“So Sabahans will then be able to write down their actual race and if there is any doubt, the officers at the National Registration Department can refer to the list,” he said at the closing ceremony of a race classification workshop here.
The list, it is hoped, will also help to prevent wrongly classifying Sabahans with “bin” and “binti” in their names as Muslims in the processing of birth registration applications and Malaysian identity cards for those from Sabah.
Masidi said participants of today’s workshop, which included representatives from Sabah’s many ethnic groups, would continue to meet on an ad hoc basis, at a suggested once every two years, to review and update the list.
“The exact number of ethnicities in Sabah not known. We are discovering more. For instance, we found out that there are sub-ethnic groups that now qualify to become a full ethnic group.
“So there is definitely the possibility that the number of ethnic groups in Sabah will increase in future,” Masidi said.
The “lain-lain” column in the race category has been a point of contention among Borneo’s native races who are mostly from ethnic tribes, with Sabah itself having over 30 ethnic races.
The racial make-up of the east Malaysian state is vastly different from that of states in the Malaysian peninsula, which is typically categorised under Malay, Chinese and Indian and the contentious “lain-lain”.
On January 21, Sabah state secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman said that it would follow in the footsteps of Sarawak to scrap the “lain-lain” race column from official government forms with immediate effect.
It was reported that Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem on Saturday made the announcement that the state’s indigenous groups like the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu would no longer be referred to as “others” in the column for race in official government forms.
Both states will now have the option to state their actual ethnicity.