Friday, 30 October 2009 02:02
KUCHING - For 17 years, Marina Undau lived a life of a child growing into a young adult.
School, her family and friends were a central part of her existence. She dreamt of doing her parents proud by furthering her education in a university and eventually getting a good job.
SPM came and went, and the 18-year-old science stream student of SMK Simanggang did well, scoring 9As and 1B last year.
But then she had a rude shock.
The education system said she was not eligible to enroll in a matriculation course, a prelude to varsity and a degree. The reason? She was, it seemed, not a bumiputra.
Born to an Iban father and a Chinese mother, Marina’s hope for a smooth climb up academia was dashed. With it went a part of her identity and the drive that made her a top scorer.
In an interview with The Borneo Post at her house in Sri Aman on Wednesday, Marina expressed her feelings in Iban: “Aku amai enda puas ati nadai olih nyambung sekula ngagai universiti (I’m very sad that I can’t pursue my university education).”
Meantime, she has started Form Six in her old school as a workaround solution for now.
Upset and bewildered
Seated between her parents, Undau Liap and Wong Pick Sing, the disappointment in the teenager was plain to see.
Her elder sister never had a problem getting into a university. Her identity was never questioned and she is at present in her second year at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
Marina is worried that a similar obstacle awaits once she completes her STPM.
“If I get good results, what’s next?”
Marina’s father, Undau, would not take no for an answer.
When her application to enter matriculation was rejected, Undau, a civil servant, contacted the Education Ministry’s Matriculation Department in Putrajaya on June 23 and was told that her daughter was not a bumiputra.
Dissatisfied, the father wrote to the ministry on July 1. The reply he received shocked him, and it is bound to challenge the identity of many Sarawakians who are of mixed-parentage.
The ministry said in a reply on July 14 that Undau’s appeal was turned down because “the candidate is categorised as non-bumiputra (father is Iban and mother is Chinese)” based on a definition used by the Student Intake Management Division, Higher Learning Department and Higher Education Ministry.
Their definition is as follows:
• If either parent of a candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/Orang Asli as defined in Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.
• Sabah – If the father of the candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/native of Sabah as defined by Article 161A(6)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.
• Sarawak – If the father and mother is a native of Sarawak as defined under Article 161A(6)(b) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.
Despite the explanation, Undau is still dissatisfied and urged the government to clear up education issues that differentiate bumiputras from non-bumiputras.
He said the 1Malaysia concept would be rather hollow if education today continues to be polarised along such lines.
“Why all the differences in the intake of students for higher learning? I am not questioning the Constitution, but what is the meaning of 1Malaysia if things like this happen?”
NRD and Native Court weigh in
The National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters here said it has received a flurry of enquiries about the bumiputra status of late.
An NRD spokesman said that in Sarawak, a person’s race is registered based only on the race of the father.
On whether such a person is automatically accorded bumiputra rights, the spokesman said: “We don’t actually handle that. We look at the race of the father. If the father is Iban, the child is Iban. If the father is Chinese, the child is Chinese. The bumiputra status comes under the Native Court.”
Native Court registrar Ronnie Edward said the bumiputra status was a “birthright” and the Native Court only hear cases where a person who was to be declared a bumiputra although his father was not a native.
He said Marina was not alone in facing this problem.
Edward believes the only way to clear the air is to amend the Federal Constitution.
“Article 161(A) of the Constitution has to be amended. The article says that in Sarawak, both parents have to be ‘exclusively’ a native,” he said.
Being ‘mixed’ is no privilege
Iban-Chinese schoolgirl in limbo over Bumi status; ministry ascertains her as non-native, throws out application to do matriculation
KUCHING: Getting her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) result was the best — and the worst — thing that could happen to Marina Undau.The 18-year-old science stream student of SMK Simanggang scored 9As and 1B in the SPM examination last year.
She thought she was on her way to university, especially being a Bumiputera and all, but that was not to be.
Born to an Iban father and a Chinese mother, Marina’s life was turned upside down when her application to undergo a university matriculation programme was rejected by the Ministry of Education. The ministry determined that she is not a ‘Bumiputera’.
Her dreams were crushed and in the process, she lost a part of her identity and the drive that made her a top scorer.
The Borneo Post met Marina at her house in Sri Aman yesterday.
Seated between her parents, Undau Liap and Wong Pick Sing, the disappointment in the teenager was obvious.
Speaking in Iban, she said: “Aku amai enda puas ati nadai olih nyambung sekula ngagai universiti (I’m very sad that I can’t pursue my university education).”
With no chance of entering a university for now, Marina has started Form 6 in her old school.
Asked what she thought of everything that was happening, she replied: “What worries me is that will this happen again when I pass my STPM next year? If I get good results, what’s next?” What confuses Marina even more is how her elder sister could further her studies in Universiti Sains Malaysia in Pulau Pinang, where she is now in her second year, without ever having her identity questioned.
When Marina’s application was rejected, Undau contacted the Education Ministry’s Matriculation Department in Putrajaya on June 23 and was told that her daughter was not a ‘Bumiputera’.
Dissatisfied, the father, a government servant, wrote to the ministry on July 1 and the reply he got shocked him, and it is bound to challenge the identity of many Sarawakians who are born of mixed-parentage.
The ministry said in a reply on July 14 that Unau’s appeal was turned down because “the candidate is categorised as non-Bumiputera (father is Iban and mother is Chinese)” based on a definition used by the Student Intake Management Division, Higher Learning Department and Higher Education Ministry.
Their definition is as follows:
• Semenanjung – “Jika salah seorang ibu atau bapa calon adalah seorang Melayu yang beragama Islam/Orang Asli seperti mana yang ditakrifkan dalam Perkara 160(2) Perlembagaan Persekutuan; maka anaknya adalah dianggap seorang Bumiputera.” (If either parent of a candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/Orang Asli as defined in Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a Bumiputera.)
• Sabah – “Jika bapa calon adalah seorang Melayu yang beragama Islam/Peribumi Sabah seperti yang ditakrifkan dalam Perkara 161A(6)(a) Perlembagaan Persekutuan; maka anaknya adalah dianggap seorang Bumiputera.” (If the father of the candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/native of Sabah as defined by Article 161A(6)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a Bumiputera.)
• Sarawak – “Jika bapa dan ibu adalah seorang Peribumi Sarawak seperti mana yang ditakrifkan dalam Perkara 161A(6)(b) Perlembagaan persekutuan; maka anaknya adalah dianggap seorang Bumiputera.” (If the father and mother is a native of Sarawak as defined under Article 161A(6)(b) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a Bumiputera).
Undau could not accept the explanation given by the ministry and he hoped that the government would seriously look into education issues that involve Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera status.
“Is this what we call the 1Malaysia concept? Why all the differences in the intake of students for higher learning. I am not questioning the constitution, but what is the meaning of 1Malaysia if things like this happen?” Unau asked.
A check with the National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters here revealed that there have been numerous enquiries about the Bumiputera status of late.
A staff said she was somewhat surprised because no one had asked until recently.
A spokesperson for the NRD here said that in Sarawak, if a person is born to an Iban and his mother is Chinese, he is registered as an Iban according to the race of his father.
Asked if such a person is automatically accorded Bumiputera rights, the spokesperson said: “We don’t actually handle that. We look at the race of the father. If the father is Iban, the child is Iban. If the father is Chinese, the child is Chinese. The Bumiputera status comes under the Native Court.”
Native Court Registrar Ronnie Edward, when contacted, said the Bumiputera status was a ‘birthright’ and the Native Court only hear cases where a person who was to be declared a Bumiputera although his father was not a native.
He said there had been others who had suffered the same fate as Marina and it all boiled down to the Federal Constitution.
“I think to solve this problem. Article 161(A) of the Federal Constitution has to be amended. The article says that in Sarawak, both parents have to be ‘exclusively’ a native,” Ronnie said.
Marina, you’re not alone
By Nigel Edgar
Parents like Marina’s now worry for children’s future; STU calls for immediate solution
KUCHING: Marina Undau is not alone. Apparently, there are many students in Sarawak suffering the same fate as her.Yesterday, several parents contacted The Borneo Post to thank Marina for speaking up for them and of the heartache they now endure after learning that their children are not Bumiputera.
One of them is a teacher here, who wants to be known only as James. Like Marina, James’s daughter, Lymie, was also rejected after applying for matriculation this year.
James is an Iban-Bidayuh from Serian while his wife is a Chinese-Iban from Kuching.
“My daughter from SMK Kuching Town No. 1 also scored 9As and 1B in her SPM but she was rejected when she applied for matriculation. I asked her to appeal to the Education Ministry online. The appeal failed,” he said.
“I contacted the matriculation section of the Education Ministry after that and their explanation was that my daughter is not a Bumiputera. I was puzzled because as far as I know, if the father is Bumiputera, the children are also Bumiputera,” he said.
He said he had recently written another appeal letter to the Education Department with the help of two elected representatives whom he declined to name.
“A few months ago I also went to an education fair. I stopped by a matriculation programme booth opened by the Education Ministry to ask one of the people there on the criteria of enrolling into the programme.
“I explained to them my daughter’s status but they said she is considered a non-Bumiputera and is not qualified to enrol. I asked them why and they replied it is according to Sarawak law. They even explained to me other local higher learning institutions like UiTM also implement this criterion,” said James.
“My daughter is now in Form Six in SMK Kuching Town No. 2. My concern is what would be in store for her after Form Six?”
He urged the state ministers to look into the matter because there could be more parents and students facing the same problem.
“My brother-in-law also faced a similar problem with his daughter who tried to enrol at UiTM. He, a Bidayuh, is married to my wife’s sister who is a Chinese-Iban,” James said.
Another father who wants to be known only as Lambros, a Bidayuh-Iban with a Chinese-Iban wife, said his daughter also had excellent SPM results but failed to enrol at UiTM for the same reason.
“I have to put my daughter into a private college for now. I am concerned over my four other kids who are still schooling. What does the future hold for them?” he said.
Some more parents called in to express their concern as well as support for Marina and all those children in a similar predicament.
They said many Sarawakian native children who are excellent in their studies have been bogged down by this issue which is preventing them from utilising their full potential.
When Marina’s application was rejected, her father Undau Liap had contacted the Education Ministry’s matriculation department in Putrajaya on June 23 and was told that his daughter is not a ‘Bumiputera’.
Sarawak Headhunter's comments:
Looks like it's easier to be a Malay in Malaysia than a Sarawakian Bumiputra, if we leave it to the Malayans. Even if one's father was Indian and mother half Malay and half Indian, one could still be a "Malay". What nonsense is that?
Irrespective of what the Federal Constitution says (who cares anyway?), what business do the Malayans have of deciding who is a Sarawakian Bumiputra and who is not? That is for Sarawakians to decide.
Just give those idiots a declaration or certificate from the Sarawak Native Court or the NRD. If neither of these wants to give the requisite declaration or certificate, time to declare 1Malaysia DEAD and Sarawak INDEPENDENT!
The Sarawak government under the evil Taib's regime also has some dirty tricks of its own. See Jetty's comments from "Is Iban a Bumiputra or not?":If the Higher Ministry of Education really applies the ruling as it does to Marina, then many of those having native fathers with Chinese as their mothers in Sarawak will suffer. For Marina, her status as a Bumiputra is being questioned and it is made worse by the amendment to the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance in 2004 when the State Government banned the use of the word “Dayak” in official communication. Thus “Sea Dayak” has been changed to “Iban”, “Land Dayak” has become “Bidayuh” and “Murut” to “Lun Bawang”.
The words “Iban, Bidayuhs and Lun Bawang” are not listed in Article 161a (7) and thus they are considered as non-natives under the Federal Constitution. The legal effects of these are many and Marina when she puts her race as Iban, she is not considered as native or Bumiputra, and should not be accorded any privileges given to natives.
Even now, there are efforts to say that Ibans do not have any native customary rights over land as they are not natives according to the law due to the amendment to the Interpretation Ordinance. When the bill was passed, our Dayak elected representatives including Alfred Jabu, William Mawan, Michael Manyin and James Masing were too eager in supporting the amendment in 2004. They did not realise the legal implications.
From now on, it is advisable for Iban when filling a form asking for race, to write down “Iban (Sea Dayak)” to ensure that they are not going to be disqualified. I believe Marina could have been a victim of the doing of our elected representatives.
Since the story has been highlighted by The Borneo Post, our leaders like Jabu, Masing and Mawan should do something to help her and many others by urging the authorities to relax the conditions of entry to matriculation, etc. These students really need their help since they (ministers and our elected representatives) are walking along the corridors of power and rub shoulders with the powers that be. If they can do this, then they really help Prime Minister Najib Razak in his campaign of 1Malaysia. Otherwise the 1Malaysia is a mere lip service.
These are the issues that our Ministers – Jabu, Mawan, Masing and Manyin – should be very vocal and firm in fighting for the rights, the future and livelihood of the Dayaks rather than shouting at the top their voices on petty issues such as “cawat” “sirat” (loin clothes) or Miss Dayak Borneo pageant contest.
Don’t you think so? – The Broken Shield