Government urged to resolve issue of children from mixed marriages

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By John Isaac

DAYAK Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) hopes the Sarawak state government would resolve the issue of children who are born to parents of mixed marriages between a non native person and a native of Sarawak.

Its secretary-general Libat Langub in a statement today said the legal implementation of the law has rendered these children raceless.

“It bears noting that in all native groups, a child of a male or female native parent belongs to the native community without any distinction, and any child may be entitled to receive inheritance from his parents, according the wishes of the parents whether it be native customary rights land, native titled land or chattels,” he said.

He pointed out that for many years the Lands and Surveys Department had allowed registration of such transfers of native titled land but lately there has been a change in practice.

“The Lands and Surveys Department has recently taken a more restrictive interpretation of ‘native’ under our laws overturning the original time-honoured recognition of these inheritance rights and ‘adat’ that had been accepted and practised by our predecessors since last century.

“A refusal of registration by the Lands and Surveys Department of these transfers is a regressive step in our modern progressing state. Children of such mixed marriages are proud to be natives. They live as natives; speak native language; practise native adat; celebrate festivities of their native communities, for example, Gawai,” he said as reported by Borneo Post.

He explained that with the restrictive legal definition, the children of mixed marriages are not only deprived of their rights to inherit their parent’s assets, properties and other constitutional rights as the natives of Sarawak; but they have also been are deprived of their ancestral heritage and identity.

“They have become raceless in Sarawak, the land of their birth.

“DCCI urge the Government to take the necessary step to amend our existing laws to give due recognition to the children of a mixed marriage between a non native and a native, whether father or mother, as natives of Sarawak,” he said.

He added other races which include Bakong, Bemali, Berawan, Dali, Jatti Miriek, Kiput or Lakiput, Narum, Saban, Tatau and Tring should all be recognised and listed in the state laws as natives of Sarawak.