Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar is worried for his children’s future as well as that of other mixed marriage families like his.After learning about the plight of an 18-year old science student, Marina Undau, he and his Chinese wife, Datin Feona, are concerned that his children may no longer enjoy Bumiputera privileges.
Junaidi said there are huge political and socio-economic ramifications if the Bumiputera status of children in Sarawak, who are born to Bumiputera fathers and non-Bumiputera mothers, is not rectified.
Citing examples, he said these privileges included land purchases, holding Bumiputera shares in companies and investments in Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB), besides education.
The Santubong MP is convinced that Article 161a of the Federal Constitution which had stated that a Bumiputera child must be born to Bumiputera parents, must be amended.
“My children will be affected and so will the children of some of our state leaders who married non-Bumiputeras and non-Malaysians,” he told reporters after a function here yesterday.
He added that Sarawakian natives who married Bumiputeras from the peninsula also faced the same sticky situation.
Junaidi said: “I strongly feel that the government has to look into the provision and make the amendment to Article 161a.”
Marina, born to an Iban father and Chinese mother, scored 9As and 1B in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination last year.
However, the Education Ministry rejected her matriculation application with the reason that she is not a ‘Bumiputera’ under the Article 161a.
The SMK Simanggang student’s plight was highlighted in The Borneo Post on Thursday where she also expressed her worries about her future.
To a question, Junaidi said in Marina’s case, the ministry should not have made such a decision.
“Don’t split hairs when you give out assistance,” he pointed out.
He said he feared that if every ministry and agency started to apply Article 161a strictly, millions of ringgit invested by Sarawakians of mixed parentage, including his children, in ASB could be at stake.
“Last time, the provision was made too rigid to protect the rights of Sarawakians,” he said.
However, Junaidi said it was time for some revision on the definition of Bumiputera in Sarawak in the federal constitution.
“The state government must first agree to review the provision before the federal government can agree to it,” he said.
Asked if those of mixed parentage should try to apply for Bumiputera status, he said: “How to apply?”
On the new merit system for public institutions of higher learning entry next year, Junaidi said there were pros and cons to it.
“In principle, I agree to it,” he said.
However, he said the new merit system should not be the only criteria for student selection to local universities in the country.
He said sometimes average students outdid top SPM scorers in universities because the former were matured in their thinking and therefore, more critical and analytical.
“Some A+ students are too robotic and mechanical,” he said.
Therefore, he said, outstanding SPM results would not guarantee students that they would do equally well in universities.
On Friday, Higher Education Department director-general Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said the system would be used to calculate the merit points for SPM 2009 school leavers and the examination’s equivalent for admission into local universities.
He said the change was in line with the Education Ministry’s new A+ pass level for SPM 2009 leavers next year.
The system was introduced to accept the best into local universities and to distinguish the difference between A+, A and A-.