Crash Course On Local Cultures

The Borneo Post Online

NRD officers from the peninsula should understand local peculiarities: Junaidi

KUCHING: Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has suggested that senior officers of the National Registration Department (NRD) from Peninsular Malaysia who serve here be given ‘thorough lessons’ on local cultures and traditions.

He said senior officers from the peninsula had either “failed to understand or appreciate” local cultures with regard to registration of change of names.

The Santubong MP was commenting on calls by former Sabah chief minister Datuk Salleh Said Keruak that the director general of NRD should either come from Sabah or Sarawak.

Junaidi said it had come to his attention that the depart-ment had objected to the registration of change of names by Kelabits, thus gradually causing their tradition and culture to die out.

Traditionally, the Kelabits changed their names after marriage, which the officers from the peninsula failed to recognise, he said yesterday.

Another case which he cited was the case of his son-in-law who wanted to register his daughter as a Melanau to follow the father’s ethnicity, but the department objected to it and insisted on putting the race as Malay. Junaidi said such procedure was clearly wrong and a grave mistake on the part of the department.

“By right, my grand-daughter’s race should be Melanau because the father is a Melanau,” he said.

“Our biggest problem here (in Sabah and Sarawak) is that senior officers of the department seem not to understand or fail to appreciate our local cultures pertaining to registration.

“So, I strongly suggest that the officers be given proper and thorough lessons on the local cultures before serving here,” Junaidi said.

According to him, he brought up the matter to the attention of Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar last month.

Junaidi, however, felt that it was not necessary for the NRD director-general or director to be from Sabah or Sarawak, disagreeing with Said Keruak.

What is important is that senior officers from the peninsula dealing with registration must be made to understand the local cultures and traditions.

“Here (in Sarawak) we have over 30 ethnic groups and in Sabah, close to 40 groups, so it is very important that the senior officers have proper knowledge (about local cultures and traditions).

“Failure to understand the various ethnic groups is not good,” he said, adding it could lead to misunderstanding.


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