Friday, October 30, 2009


This report from the Malaysian Mirror makes me outraged. This is either bureaucratic stupidity or plain subversive racism. And, people wonder why so many Sarawakians are pissed off.

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.

Not eligible

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.

sarawak-semi-bumiputra.pngIn 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.

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 she faced after SPM 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.

Pressing on

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.


Yang said...

I am not surprised. Are you?

chapchai said...

My late maternal grandmother was Melanau and her husband, my late grandfather, Chinese. I was told some years ago that I could apply for bumiputra status if I could produce documentation to prove that my grandmother was Melanau. I laughed it off and did nothing about it. But I know of a friend, a Chinese whose maternal grandmother was Melanau, who successfully applied for bumiputra status. The best solution is for the policy of preferential treatment for bumiputras be replaced by meritocracy, with aid going to the needy regardless of race or religion.

Patricia said...

I'm not surprised, either.

They make laws in parliament; they make statements in the press. No one bothers with telling the bureaucrats about it. No one intends to, is my guess. So, the bureaucracy does as it pleases. And it's pleased to not let you do what you want to do.

This is not the only case. And this is nothing new. I've seen so much of this as a teacher.

How does a parent explain this to his child? How does a teacher or other educator do the same?

And it is asked that our children return to malaysia and serve here? Yah, right.

donplaypuks® said...

'O, what a tangled web we weave, when we...'

That's what happens when you fool around with race, religion and semantics spin. Some are more Bumiputra than others!

We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

zlynad said...

I am lost here.

The girl's father is Iban.

So by all definitions here ... she is a BUMIPUTERA.


Is it not stated on her IC?

walla said...

One would think that the indigenous natives are the original and true bumiputra's. In fact they should be the ones first qualified to lay claim to that status before and above anyone else.

Secondly, children don't select parents of what blood types to be born from so why penalize them, if one can now still consider bumiputra status something nice to have without any taint of shame.

Thirdly, an indigenous native albeit of mixed blood has achieved high distinction in a national examination; that should be cause for national celebration. After all isn't the reason for conferring bumiputra status to help the weak and underprivileged?

Fourthly, penalizing the parents and child just because one parent is a Chinese seems to imply it is alright to practise ethnocentric racism of the sinophobic kind.

So we have 1Malaysia in front but subversive racism behind.

Therefore why will one no longer be surprised if Umno's wordsmiths will continue to write nice speeches lauding the government's people first, unity in diversity, and so on, in a continuous procession of demagoguery?

However, when they wash their hands in the washrooms and look at the mirrors, will they be seeing a grin, or a grimace?

And when they go home and kiss their wives on the cheeks, or go to the bank and cash their paychecks, or sign off as parents at the passport office for their children to go on to the best universities and colleges in the world on government scholarships paid for by the rakyat of this country including the Ibans and Chinese, or kneel down and prostrate in prayer to the Almighty for holding up their families so far, or drink their next cuppa with their malay friends at the nearest warung, will they be saying with all the conviction of their purest hearts and minds that





Botha should be pleased with Malaysia's progress. With this revelation, Mandela would probably be looking at us differently. So, how now, ceo of state?

Hypocrisy and cowardice should be crimes in this country. Malaysia in:

and draw out all the permutations of parentage; after doing so for one level, extend that level, for example: mixed-parents-> mixed-children who next intermarry with second generation javanese domiciled in Malaysia or with someone who had jumped ship at Pontianak to overland into Sarawak at night; then provide the bureaucrat's new rule on whether the grandchildren qualify or don't qualify for bumiputra status...if they really want to talk about blood.

Meanwhile since we are now also awakened to the eugenics of education, parents should start comparing notes to confirm that when our Umno government gives scholarships to top scholars, those who are non-malays at the top of the list are more likely to be shunted into only local universities for stunting courses.

i hate writing like is painful ....but tell me how to comment with greater decorum and reticence.


i am walla, the...oh never mind, no matter no more.