THE Sarawak state government, Council for Customs & Traditions Sarawak, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the National Registration Department (JPN) must investigate and rescind the native status of Ragad Kurdi Taib, wife of the current governor Tan Sri Taib Mahmud.
Sarawak activist Peter John Jaban who made the call further urged the authorities to probe her sons from a former relationship and to prevent them from owning any native title lands in Sarawak.
As the governor’s children are currently engage in a legal battle over their late mother’s assets, including that of the late Puan Sri Laila Taib’s shares in Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMSB), the issue of citizenship granted to wife of the former chief minister has resurfaced.
This has sparked consternation among genuine Sarawak citizens, especially those who are unable to inherit their ancestral lands because of strict rules in place governing native status.
“It is a travesty that Ragad and her children should have a future of extreme wealth and status that has been denied to so many genuine natives and, indeed, genuine Sarawakians,” lamented Jaban in a statement.
“Thousands of people, born in Sarawak to native parents, remain stateless. Thousands more are unable to inherit their ancestral lands from their native parents as they are the product of mixed marriages.
“But now we are facing the very real prospect that this woman – with precious little connection to Sarawak other than an advantageous marriage – walking away with a fortune in Sarawak’s wealth. Our current Sarawak government must prevent this from happening or face serious discord among the Sarawak people.”
According to Jaban, applications for native status come with very strict requirements, including knowledge of the culture and the language and long-standing connection to a community. This is verified in detail through interviewing and testing.
“In practice, the process is extremely lengthy, commonly taking up to 20 years to process. Clearly, Ragad has not only jumped the queue but also been given preferential treatment throughout,” he berated.
“In addition, even if native status is conferred by JPN, ownership of native land is limited to citizens whose parents are both native. Even mixed-race people with only one native parent, are denied the ability to inherit their ancestral lands by Sarawak Lands and Survey Department as Chapter 61 of the Interpretation Act 2005 requires that only children whose both parents are natives qualify.”
Added Jaban: “This is an issue that has been widely debated in the press over the last few years. If Ragad and her children are allowed to inherit native lands, this would make a mockery of the rule of law and the rights of all Malaysians.”
“Children born outside of Malaysia to Malaysian mothers have only just been allowed citizenship. No wonder Sarawakians are enraged at this particular case of a Syrian-born woman with her children born overseas to two non-Malaysian parents should just waltz in and claim Sarawak assets as her own.” – June 20, 2023