Sarawak govt urged to resolve native land transfer issues immediately – Irene Chang

Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling (N.51 Bukit Assek)

By Emma Victoria

SARAWAK government needs to resolve the native land transfer issues immediately as many applications, involving children of mixed blood, have been rejected.

Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said Sibu Land Registry’s current policy only allow the registration of transfers of native lands to a native person whose both parents are natives.

Therefore, when one of the parents is not native, the transfer application would be rejected despite the birth certificate of the applicant stating that he or she is a native, she said in a statement.

The policy requiring that both parents must be native (stated in the birth certificates) was only introduced in the recent years and it has caused a lot of problems among the mixed blood children.

This should not have been an issue, especially if the father is a native and the child bears an indigenous name and is classified as a native in the “race” column of their birth certificate, she said.

Chang said in a multiracial society like Sarawak, there is bound to be many inter-racial marriages.

With such a policy, it has caused many rightful children of a native parent to be deprived of their landed properties when their native parent passed away.

“In many of these cases, it caused a lot of family disputes as the children of a deceased native might be forced to transfer their native lands to someone outside their immediate family,” she said.

Under the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance, the term “native” refers to a citizen in Malaysia of any race which is considered as indigenous to Sarawak.

There are 10 races mentioned in the Ordinance and anyone whose race is in the listed native group is recognised as a Sarawak native.

Therefore, as long as when the race of a person is classified as one of these races in his birth certificate, he is a native for the purpose of land transfers under our Sarawak Land Code.

“It is not for the Land Registry to go behind the race classification in the birth certificate to query if both parents are natives before they would allow the transfer to be registered,” she stressed.

Chang said all the state departments should be working in tandem with each other and should endorse and uphold each other’s authority by recognizing the details in all documents issued by each government department as being true and correct.

This is especially true when Malaysia is mainly a paternal and patrilineal society, with property and title being inherited by the male lineage. Therefore, if a child’s father is a native, then the child should be classified a native without any question.

“So, the state government must resolve this issue by directing the Sibu Land Registry to recognise the authority of the Birth and Death Registry by endorsing a person to be a native if the “race” column of his birth certificate states him as a native.

To allow otherwise points to poor governance by the State Government as it undermines and makes a mockery of the authority of the Birth and Death Registry that issued the birth certificate,” she stressed.