KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has received complaints from native parents about their children being classified as Malays in their school report cards.
According to him, the children's “keturunan” (origin) were stated as “Melayu” instead of “Lain-Lain” (others) as practiced in the past.
“We were informed by one parent that the status cannot be changed (back) because it was already within the system and the education officer was not able to make the changes,” he said.
Sarawak PKR was also furnished with a copy of a letter inked by six concerned parents which was sent to the state teachers' union president seeking a clarification on the matter.
“We echo the concerns of these parents because it has great implications in the future,” said Baru.
“If the status is not clarified and maintained, it can be implied that a native person, once he or she is classified as a Malay in official school documents, is a Muslim by virtue of the definition of Article 160 (of the Federal Constitution),” he added.
Article 160 states that “a Malay means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom...”
Whereas, Article 161 on natives states that “in relation to Sarawak, a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the state or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races; and...”
“The races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of 'native' as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kalabit, Kayans, Kenyahs (Including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Melanos, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.”
Meanwhile, Baru demanded that the Education Ministry launch an immediate investigation into the matter and provide an explanation.
“We are afraid that this may just be the tip of the iceberg and we would like to alert other native parents to check the status of their children before the matter becomes irreversible,” he said.
Union to raise it with ministry
When contacted, the president of Sarawak teachers' union, William Ghani Bina said he had taken up the issue to the state deputy director of education.
“And I am going to Kuala Lumpur and on Thursday, I will discuss it with the Director-General of Education,” he said.
“For you and I this is very bad. How can a Malay go to church? How can a Malay celebrate Christmas? How can a Malay celebrate Gawai?” he asked.
He added that these children and their families ate pork as well.
“How can they be of keturunan Melayu?”
He also noted that while the documents of the children indicated that they were 'Melayu', their birth certificates clearly showed that their parents were 'Christians' (see photos).
The children go to the Temenggong Datuk Muip school in Miri.