KUCHING: Another ‘Marina Undau’ dilemma has come back to haunt the Iban children whose fathers are Ibans and mothers are Chinese as they are not considered Ibans.
Thus, their applications to study in UiTM are rejected.
What happened to Marina in 2009 occurred again to Esther Bartholomew whose father is an Iban from Nanga Bunut in Kanowit district and her mother is a Chinese. Her application to study at University Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has been rejected as she considered non-Iban.
Reacting to this, Sarawak PKR Chief Baru Bian made a very strong appeal to both the Federal and State governments to amend the Federal Constitution and Sarawak constitution in respect of offspring between a native a non-native.
“The law must be clear on this,” he said, saying that he caught by this news where an Iban is not an Iban
“I think this is the issue of Iban father married a Chinese and the daughter cannot get into UiTM because she was told she is not an Iban.
“You recall this was a big issue about Marina Undau a few years back. You recall I brought it up the issue in the last sitting of the State Assembly, and our stand then and still now is that the law on this must be made clear.
“And therefore it is important that the law – the Federal and State constitutions – must be amended in order to make it very clear,” he added.
“I mentioned it in the Assembly sitting, and I was told that it was a (Federal) cabinet decision. I told the assembly that it will not prevent the same incident to occur in the future,” said Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan Assemblyman.
“Now exactly the same problem, the same scenario happened so therefore again we call for amendment to the relevant laws to make it very clear otherwise you are dealing with the matter piece by piece, which will cause lot of problems and trauma for those just this lady.
“Her entry to university will be delayed again for another term or another year,” he said.
Article 161A (6) the Federal constitution says “in this Article ‘native means –
(a) In relation to Sarawak, a person whom is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the state or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races;
“(7) The races to be treated for the purposes of definition of ‘native’ in Clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kelabits, Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Malanos, Murut, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits”.
(Sea Dayak, Land Dayak and Murut have been changed to Iban, Bidayuh and Lun Bawang respectively).
Meanwhile, Esther’s father Bartholomew Aji Lanyau claimed that UiTM student selection committee had told her that she was not a bumiputera because her mother is Chinese.
He said that he could not afford to send his daughter to a private college as his income as a retiree was insufficient to cover the cost.
Esther, 23, has written an appeal to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, Land Development Minister James Masing and Social Development Minister William Mawan Ikom and the state education department.
In the letter she said that a Malaysian like her whose father is a Dayak should be recognised as a bumiputera following a decision made by the federal cabinet on Marina’s case.
She is yet to receive any reply.
Like Marina’s case, Esther’s non-bumiputera issue is certain to cause uproar in Sarawak especially when the general election is around the corner.
COMMENT: Why are our Iban leaders who speak vehemently against small issues like eating fried ants, sago worms, etc and wearing Apai Saloi’s loin clothes are keeping quiet? Why bother to deprive Frusis Lebi of his entitled welfare allowance?
They should come together and urge the government to change the law. Show to UMNO and PBB that we are united, and only then they will respect us.
Otherwise thousands of Iban children from mixed marriages cannot be considered as Ibans and will lose all the so-called privileges granted to Ibans, if there are any.