Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Less than half Sabah's population comprise natives

Kota Kinabalu: Natives represent less than half the population of 3,131.6 million in Sabah as of this year, said Sabah Native Affairs Council (MHEANS) director Mohamad Said Hinayat.

He said the Kadazandusuns or Dusuns or Kadazans make up 551,300 of the 1,485,800 natives throughout the State.

The Bajaus or Samas or Bajau/Sama group, he said, constitute 28.4 per cent or 423,100 of the total number of Sabah natives.

"On the other hand, the number of Muruts in Sabah is about 104,300," he said when presenting a paper entitled "Sabah Natives Background and Customs Administration" at the forum on "Customs of the Dayaks in Kalimantan and the Ethnic Groups in Sabah" recently.

The remainder or 814,200 of the total number of natives, he said were classified as other Sabah Bumiputeras. He did not elaborate.

Based on the description provided in the Interpretation Ordinance (Native Interpretation) (Cap 64), natives are defined as those whose parents are Sabah orang asli or natives or anyone who is living as a member of native community where one of his parents or ancestors are natives.

"In relation to Sabah, a native is a person who is a citizen, is the child or grandchild of a person of a race indigenous to Sabah and was born (whether on or after Malaysia Day or not) either in Sabah or to a father domiciled in Sabah at the time of the birth," he said.

Natives in Sarawak, he said, are defined as "a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) in the Malaysian Constitution as indigenous to the State or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races.

Mohamad said the ethnic groups in Sabah are namely:

- Kadazandusun or Dusun or Kadazan (92 sub-ethnic) - Bajau or Sama or Bajau/Sama (10 sub-ethnic) - Murut (29 sub-ethnic) - Brunei or Malay Brunei - Rungus (4 sub-ethnic) - Bisaya or Bisayah - Idahan or Ida'an (7 sub-ethnic) - Iranun or Illanun - Kedayan or Kadayan - Orang Sungai or Sungoi (28 sub-ethnic) - Lundayeh/Lundayah - Suluk - Tidong - Bulongan - Balabak/Molbog

He said prior to Sabah gaining its independence from the colonial masters between 1881 and 1962, customs administration were based on the Native Court presided by the Orang Kaya Kaya (OKKs), native chiefs, elders and penghulu (village headmen).

After Sabah won its independence between the period 1963 and 1999, the Sabah Bumiputera Affairs Unit (UHEB) was formed where the all customs, disputes and administration were run by the Native Courts, OKKs, native chiefs (KANs), native chief representatives (WKANs) and village chiefs.

Then from 1999 until now, Mohamad said native affairs come under the jurisdiction of the Sabah Native Affairs Council (MHEANS).

He said the entity and people vested with the power to settle cases involving natives were Sabah Native Affairs Office (PHEANS), Native Courts, OKKs, KANs, WKANs and village chiefs.

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