KUCHING, Sept 20 — Two Sarawak Opposition politicians today urged the state government not to impose an RM100 fee for every application for a native status from children of a Sarawak native married to a non-native under an amended Interpretation ordinance that will be enforced on November 1.
They said that the imposition of the fee shows the Sarawak government lacks sincerity in helping these children to attain native status.
Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Vook Lee Shan said such a fee is too high and should not be imposed, especially if the applicants are from poor rural families.
“There is no reason to impose any fee to every application as this will cause unnecessary burden on them,” Voon said when responding to a statement issued by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali.
He said the native applicants, who live in rural areas with no access to roads will find the fee burdensome as they have to meet the travelling costs to the district office and back.
He said they have to travel to the district office again to collect the certification documents if their applications are successful.
“It is believed that there are thousands of children born to Sarawak natives at the moment who are not recognised as natives under the law.”
Ba’Kelalan State Assemblyman Baru Bian said the RM100 fee is too much especially if there are multiple applications from one family.
He said it may prevent eligible Sarawakians from making the applications.
He said a fee of RM10 should be sufficient, as the government does not want to be seen as making money from the people who need such a crucial right to be recognised by the state.
He also urged that the application for the native status should be dealt with and approved by the district officer (DO) or the Sarawak Administrative Officer (SAO) by furnishing valid documents to support such applications with minimal processing fee.
He said the process of native status recognition should be made simple and easy, and the DO and SAO are best placed to handle such applications.
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 consider applications for native recognition.