Day 16

Posted On August 6, 2007

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There are 28 officially recognised indigenous ethnic groups in Sabah. The largest group is the Christian-majority Kadazan-Dusun, followed by Muslimmajority Bajau, and Murut.
In Sarawak, Christian-majority Ibans form the major ethnic group with about 31.2 per cent of the total population, followed by the Bidayuh, Melanau and other tribes of Sarawak.
The Federal Constitution regards the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak as “natives”. In the Peninsula, the Bumiputeras are essentially the Muslim Malays; in Sarawak and Sabah however, the Bumiputeras include all the indigenous groups, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as listed in the Constitution.
Article 161 (A) provides for the special position of Sabah and Sarawak natives. It spells out what “native” means and which groups are considered native. It also outlines the conditions for the reservation of lands and the preferential treatment.
Regardless, the Sabah and Sarawak rural indigenous communities face similar problems as the Orang Asli. Their customary lands are being encroached upon by the timber industry and development projects (e.g. building of large dams).
It has also been claimed that the Ibans are being marginalised or sidelined in terms of job opportunities and promotions in the public sectors.


1. Praise God for
a. Sending the first group of missionaries to sow the seed among the natives.
b. The spiritual revivals in certain communities (e.g. Bario, Ba Kelalan, etc.) and His abundant blessings on the people.
c. Raising capable indigenous leaders.
2. Honest and just state governments to fairly and effectively eliminate poverty among the natives.
3. All state projects to prioritise public interests and no tribe to be left behind.
4. Business community to help create job opportunities; the rich to empower the poor.
5. Effective implementation of laws to protect the natives and their land.
6. Any discriminatory policies and actions to be removed.
7. Salt & light:
a. Christian natives to shine God’s light in their respective arenas.
b. Churches to demonstrate God’s goodness and to sow seed in their respective communities.
c. The fire and passion for the Lord to be rekindled.


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