KUCHING, Sept 20 — The Sarawak Eurasian Association applauds the overall impact of the Interpretation (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 which will now allow the mixed-race children of natives of Sarawak both to apply for native status and also to claim their family’s ancestral lands.
Its president Karen Shepherd said the association hopes that this will be put into immediate effect by all relevant government agencies, especially Lands and Survey Department and National Registration Department.
“This will put an end to uncertainty for thousands of mixed-race children and their native parents, facing issues with Bumiputera status and with inheriting their family land,” she said in a statement when responding to a statement by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazni.
“This does not just apply to Eurasians, of course, but also to all those Sarawakians with mixed Malaysian Chinese or Indian heritage, who had previously been barred by Lands and Survey from inheriting.”
She hoped that the need to apply is merely an administrative requirement, and that the various government agencies will proceed to process these applications at speed, saying that this is now a quantitative test rather than qualitative, and so there should be little dispute in most cases. In fact, a simple search of birth records should suffice.
Shepherd said that inter-marriage between the races has been common in Sarawak for hundreds of years, adding that their children are welcomed into their native communities without question, many of them living entirely as natives, practising the customs and speaking the language.
“Eurasians themselves have formed an important part of the Sarawak community since the first arrival of the Brookes, living in much the same way.
“In fact, many Eurasians have gone on to become among the greatest guardians of the culture. We are thankful that the Sarawak government has taken steps to recognise this,” she added.
She noted that Sarawakians are increasingly studying, living and working overseas, and then meeting their spouse there.
“In fact, many of these mixed families are choosing to raise their children in Sarawak. Their children should not be denied their birth right,” she said.
Shepherd said the association is happy that both the federal and Sarawak governments are bringing the legislation more firmly in line with international standards on this issue.
“Sarawak has always been an open-minded place, welcoming people with a genuine connection and love of this land.
“This amendment is an important step in recognising this culture and practice already in place,” she said, adding that prompt action on this matter has averted a growing issue going forward.
She said the association is looking forward to welcoming many new natives amongst its membership.
At a press conference yesterday, Sharifah Hasidah said any children born to a Sarawak native and a non-native need to apply for it if they want to be known as natives under the Interpretation (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 which comes into force on November 1 this year.
She said the application forms will be available at district offices at a fee of RM100 each.
She also said the Sarawak government will establish a committee chaired by the State Secretary to review and consider applications for native recognition.