Sabah’s ‘Kadazan’ barking up the wrong tree on ‘government forms’
Homo sapiens ‘race’ — human species or genetic barrier — are differentiated by artificial social and cultural constructs viz. language and dialects like Kadazan and loanwords, customs, traditions, rituals, food, habitat, anthropology, and history!
Commentary and Analysis . . . At a time when there are larger demands in Malaysia that “race” be dropped from Federal government forms, Kadazan speakers — in fact habitually Bahasa Sabah or Chinese speakers — ironically demand that they be listed as “race”.
Homo sapiens ‘race’ — human species or genetic barrier — are differentiated by artificial social and cultural constructs viz. language and loanwords, customs, traditions, rituals, food, habitat, anthropology, and history.
Sabah’s Kadazan speakers may be barking up the wrong tree on “government forms”.
Kadazan speakers at present, like other Orang Asal (Original People) are listed in Federal government forms as Others (Orang Asal or Kadazan etc.). That’s also reflected in the birth certificate and MyKad.
The Federal government can only disregard “Kadazan” demands. The demands aren’t based on science, there’s no “law” on it, and there can be no such “law”.
In fact, we can’t say Kadazan people, except for convenient labeling and/or caricatures in the media.
However, we can say Kadazan speakers if use the dialect habitually at home as their mother tongue, and not Bahasa Sabah or Chinese, for example. Kadazan speakers have the same DNA as other human beings.
The 50m Mongoloid speaking tribes in the eight states in northeast India and the Negrito tribes in the mountains of Kerala, for example, are other cultural phenomena that have nothing to do with DNA.
It was at one point in India’s history that Albino emerged in the north from people who were dark-skinned. In science, albinoism was the result of inbreeding and incest where the population was very small.
The Albino in north India developed the Sanskrit language from other languages used by dark-skinned groups.
The Albino in north India spread all over India and also reached Central Asia. Three Albino families in Central Asia entered Europe. The DNA migration trail shows that everyone in Europe is descended from these three Albino families.
The Europeans became “white” when Albinoism came down as there was critical mass i.e. the numbers grew.
Kadazan speakers failed
Kadazan speakers, ironically, have failed to preserve their dialect in habitual everyday use. It’s the Church that keeps the Kadazan dialect and other local languages and dialects alive. Muslim, more likely, habitually speak Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Sabah and not Kadazan. More on Bahasa Sabah later.
DNA, the warehouse for genes, can’t tell race or language or how a person would look like. DNA can only tell who are the biological parents and trace the geographical migration of the DNA path. Every person only receives two cells, the sex cells, from biological parents. The rest of a person isn’t due to the parents but nature and the DNA which carries the genes of collective humanity as homo sapiens.
Blue eyes, for example, is an environmental phenomenon created by the missing brown gene. Dark skin, having more pigment cells, isn’t a DNA phenomenon and it isn’t permanent.
Dark skin, a stress-related response by the immune system unleashing melanin, was created by environmental factors.
The cloudless sky allows more light to fall on the skin during the day. The pigment cells release melanin to protect the skin. The melanin washes away, but only to a certain extent, if the skin is soaked in water in the longbath. 15 minutes soaking would do. The sides of the long bath would turn dark when the melanin washes away. Of course, the pigment cells can’t be washed away.
Thick clouds cause more rainfall which reduces heat. Rainfall and heat don’t affect pigmentation. Only light during the day affects pigmentation.
Two wrongs — read Malay, Indian, Chinese, Others (Orang Asal) and Others (Foreigner) in Federal government forms — and the demand by Kadazan speakers do not make one right.
Indian and Chinese, in digressing a little, are nationalities in India and China, and find expression in diaspora worldwide, but considered as “race” in Federal government forms in Malaysia, no doubt for Article 153 reasons. It may also be more about labeling for political convenience and expedience. It’s a way of articulating and ventilating divisive issues and gathering the votes.
There’s no “race”, caste, colour, religion, and political party in Parliament, but only lawmakers elected by all and sworn on the Constitution for upholding, defending, respecting, and honoring the rule of law.
The rule of law isn’t a legal term, but political, based on the ultimate political documents that set forth the governing institutions of state and hence, like Adat, has the force of law as the supreme law of the land. The Federation of Malaya Act 1948, the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63) are the ultimate political documents that make up the Federal Constitution.
Adat, presided over by the Native Court, is the 1st law in international law. International law, for those unfamiliar, being based on international customary practices and human rights, finds compliance in national law. Indeed, human rights — it isn’t about the collective good and common humanity as in Islam — remain the basis of international law.
Freeze on Native Certs
There’s also the little matter of the Sabah government indefinitely freezing the issuance of the Native Certificate (Sijil Anak Negeri) by the Native Court.
The government discovered that corrupt practices allowed many with roots in China to get their hands on Native Certificates as Kadazan speakers and/or as Sino-Kadazan, Sino-Native, and Sino-Dusun. The public perception remains that many of these Native Certificate holders may not have even a drop of Orang Asal blood and are allegedly merely after NCR (native customary rights) land. In fact, NCR land can only be held by heritage.
The public perceptions were highlighted not so long ago when the Sabah Assembly withdrew the Native Certificate held by Jimmy Wong, a DAP lawmaker, who allegedly accumulated NCR (native customary rights) land under the Native Certificate. The state assembly discovered that he allegedly had recent roots in China and didn’t have even a drop of “Orang Asal blood”.
Kadazan, for those unfamiliar, is an urban dialectic variation from the largely rural Dusunic anthropological grouping in Sabah, Dusun being the main language, but being replaced by Bahasa Sabah.
Bahasa Sabah remains the local version of Bahasa Melayu habitually spoken in the Johor-Rhio-Lingga region. The 20K word Johor-Rhio-Lingga, enshrined in Article 152 as Bahasa Kebangsaan, has been replaced since 1969 by the 40K word Bahasa Malaysia based on Bahasa Melayu. Bahasa Indonesia, in comparison, has 127K words including 20K words from Bahasa Melayu. One-quarter of Bahasa Indonesia is Dutch. Bahasa Indonesia, like Bahasa Malaysia, has many loanwords from English and local languages and dialects.
Standard KadazanDusun, based on the Bundu and Liwan dialects within the Dusunic grouping, has been developed for schools by the KadazanDusun Language Institute (KDLI).
There’s also the Murutic anthropological grouping in the former British North Borneo.
Dusunic and Murutic are subcultures within the larger Dayak anthropological grouping in Borneo, the 3rd largest island in the world and forming parts of Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Again, Kadazan speakers are not “race”. They are a form of identity which, unlike Malay — an aberration in law — isn’t in the Constitution. The Constitution can only be color-blind under the rule of law, the basis of the supreme law of the land.
Orang Asal, including Kadazan speakers, are however recognized by the Federal Constitution under Article 13 (property rights), Article 5 (right to life), and Article 8 (no discrimination), Adat, the Sabah Constitution, and Sarawak Constitution as “ancestral and historical property owners” of NCR land by heritage. Adat, being based on customary practices, has the force of law like the Constitution. — Joe Fernandez
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.