Sarawak minister supports proposal to update definition of ‘natives’ in Federal Constitution

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah speaking to reporters after officiating a ‘Seni Perdana’ dialogue at a local hotel in Kuching, September 22, 2021. — Borneo Post Online pic
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah speaking to reporters after officiating a ‘Seni Perdana’ dialogue at a local hotel in Kuching, September 22, 2021. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUCHING, Sept 22 — Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah supports the state’s proposal for the definition of Natives of Sarawak in the Federal Constitution to be updated to reflect the numerous different races of the natives in Sarawak.

Abdul Karim said the amendment to the definition of Natives of Sarawak in the Federal Constitution would be significant as it could serve as an acknowledgement of the state’s unique diverse community with its many sub-ethnic groups.

“I think it is a good suggestion and to me, there are many areas in the Federal Constitution that should be amended (to reflect the spirit of the formation of Malaysia),” said Abdul Karim after officiating a “Seni Perdana” dialogue at a local hotel here today.

He hoped the minister-in-charge at the federal government level could re-look into the Federal Constitution in detail, particularly on matters related to the rights of Sarawak.

“I am not sure why such amendment on recognising the state’s unique position was not carried out in the past but it needs to be done to reflect the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).”

Abdul Karim said he believed no ethnic groups would like to be referred to as “Others” or “Lain-lain” when they are filling in the forms.

“Allowing the amendment to the Federal Constitution is also a sign of respect to the ethnic communities in the state.”

Yesterday, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said the state had proposed that the definition of natives in the state to be updated in the Federal Constitution to reflect the numerous different races of the natives.

Sharifah Hasidah said apart from the Malays, Chinese and Dayaks, the rest of the natives in the state would often be conveniently categorised as “Others” or “Lain-lain”.

She hoped the issue would be addressed during the current Parliament session and other amendments should also be considered, including to the Article 1(2) and Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution, to reflect the spirit of MA63. — Borneo Post Online

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