by: Raymond Tombung
KOTA KINABALU: The State Reform Party has called the statement by Datuk Akjan Ali Mohammad that suluks are first class natives of Sabah as highly mischievous, misleading an misconceived. It's Sabah chairman, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said that Akjan is again in one of his inventive mode, creating all sorts of lies to confuse Sabahans and in his fight for the wrong things.
Jeffrey was responding to the claim by Akjan before the Royal Commission of Inquiry Panel last week, in which he claimed tthere was not Project IC and that Suluks were first class natives of Sabah.
"First of all there is no such thing as first class, second class, or third lass natives of Sabah. Natives are natives. Either you are or you are not, that's all," he said. "As I have been inundated with many telephone calls from my constituents who are very unhappy with Akjan's reference to Suluks as first class natives of Sabah, I have to make a defense for true Sabahan natives. It is imperative that I revisit my many previous statements on who actually are the natives of Sabah."
"Before we go any further on the issue, let us be very clear also that natives are defined very loosely in the laws. But we must be clear that we need to talk bout who is the indigenous and the real peoples of Sabah. Definitely, Suluks are not among them," he added.
As for natives, he said that Sabahans only need to refer to the law on the interpretation of natives, and that the assertion that the Suluks are 'first class natives' a gross manipulation of definitions but highly mischievous, misleading and misconceived because nowhere it is stated in the Interpretation (Definition of Native) Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 64) that this is so.
"However in Section 2(1)(a) of the ordinance says that any person both of whose parents are or were members of a people indigenous to Sabah could be considered as the original, pure. Or first natives because there was no need for them to make an application to the Native Court for the Native Ceritificate or Sijil Anak Negeri," Jeffrey said. "Now the exact text of Section 2 (1) (c) quoted by Akjan states that 'any person who is ordinarily resident in Sabah, is a member of the Suluk, Kagayan, Simonol, Sibutu or Ubian people or of a people indigenous to the State of Sarawak or State of Brunei, has lived as and been a member of a native community for a continuous period of three years preceding the date of his claim to be native, has borne a good character throughout that period and whose stay in Sabah is not limited under any of the provisions of the Immigration Act.'
"The person described here must therefore fulfill the requirement of: (1) ordinarily resident (not transient); (2) has lived as member of a native community for continuous period of three years, and; (3) of good character and not illegal (in compliance with Immigration law)."
Jeffrey stressed that a further requirement is that such person can only claim to be a native upon being declared by the Native Court as provided under Section 2(3) which states that: “No claim by any person to be a native by virtue of the provisions of paragraph (b), (c) and (d) of subsection (1) shall be recognized as valid UNLESS supported by an appropriate declaration made by a Native Court under Section 3."
"With due respect, all those claiming to be natives under section 2(1) (b), (c) and (d) of the Interpretation (Definition of Native) Ordinance must apply to the Native Court who shall make the requisite declaration with the issuance of the Native Certificate. Let me emphasize for those in categories (b), (c) and (d) above only when they have in their possession the Native Certificates will they have the legal standing to call themselves natives.
"As such Akjan is wrong in making a blanket definition that all Suluks are natives, let lone first class natives," he said.