I’m a little late to give my points on this issue, but since it’s something concerning myself, my kid, my people, bah.. here’s just my two cents.
As you may have heard, stating your ethnicity in a government form is an issue now. It didn’t create such a huge fuss last time, because there was no Facebook, twitter or internet. When the internet penetration exploded in Malaysia, even the dumbest of things can be a huge issue in Malaysia, but I’m not in any way saying that the issue about filling in your ethnicity is dumb here. I’m just saying that it became an issue because people now are more exposed.
Previously, locals from Sabah and Sarawak, including the Melanaus, had to identify themselves as ‘lain-lain’ in government forms, but I must admit it wasn’t really an issue for me. I always saw the tag ‘lain-lain’ or ‘others’ as a simple way to address the huge numbers of minorities in Sabah and Sarawak, as I proudly spell out my ethnicity in the given space. Never once did I feel that I was a non-Malaysian just because of such thing on a piece of paper. Perhaps I am just not that sensitive about these little things, preferring to look at the bigger picture, which is the fact that it would be ridiculous to put up every single ethnicity in a form just to please everyone.
However, the fact that the government of the day has decided to include a more specific name for the locals of Sabah and Sarawak does give the minorities of Sabah and Sarawak some sort of recognition, although for me, it is minimal.
In fact, I feel that we should have long excluded the ethnicity of someone when a government form because I feel that it’s not relevant for a general non-religious, or non-ethnic related post in the government. I mean, what does ones race/ethnicity have to do with applying for a government post?
Actually, not only government forms, all forms should exclude ones ethnicity and religion. Removing these two characteristics will not remove favoritism in the selection of employees, but it will however discourage the selection employees based on ethnicity and religion.
But since it is something like a ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ (SOP) to include ethnicity and religion of someone in forms, then I think it would be good to have these special columns left empty with the applicant writing in their respective ethnicity instead.
So yalah, this ‘lain-lain’ issue for me is a non-issue. Some say using ‘lain-lain’ makes me, a Bidayuh, feel like a foreigner in Malaysia. But hey, it’s not like its done on purpose considering facts that Sarawakians are coming from not less than 28 ethnics.
On top of that, it means nothing for you to tick your ethnicity correctly when you fill in a form, yet when statistics are made, you will be still get placed into one huge group known as ‘others’ because you are indeed a minority.
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