Volume 20 No 12 (2022)
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S.C., Shaari , I.S.M., Kamil , M.A., Omar , R.S., Sulong , J., Pugh-Kitingan , G., Lunkapis, S. L., Sondoh JR , R., Noordin
Recently, there are claims by certain ethnic groups to be recognised as “natives” of Sabah. Such claims have turned into polemics. Many benefits accrue to those listed as natives such as land ownership are abused. It is timely for the definition of “Native of Sabah” to be revisited. This article deploys a doctrinal legal methodology which is commonly used by the legal fraternity. The researchers have thoroughly examined the three main legislation, namely, the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, the State Constitution of Sabah and the Interpretation (Definition of Native) Ordinance 1952 (Sabah Cap 64). Several issues are underlying the lack of having a clear definition of the natives of Sabah. The findings show that general interpretation, taking advantage of the loophole in the definitions has led non-natives to claim native status. In addition, there are also accompanying challenges with regards to jurisdiction of the court in deciding native status as well as the unclear provision of law pertaining to the onus of proving native status. It is understood that the challenges in defining the native are a daunting task; however, the abovementioned legislation needs to be carefully revised so that the rights and protective laws meant for Sabah’s Natives are safeguarded. This article suggests several recommendations warrant for consideration such as amendments to the existing ordinance, taking into account the definition put forward by the UNDRIP coupled with a referendum to obtain the views of Sabahans at large.
Native of Sabah, Indigenous, Constitution, Statutes, Doctrinal study
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