TUARAN: The Sabah government has given its assurance that it will continue to protect the rights of the native people in the state.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the new state government had created the Sabah Law and Native Affairs Ministry specifically to plan and identify any issues connected to the rights of the Sabah native people.
“We are confident we are capable of defending the rights of the native people in Sabah and that is why under the new government we created the ministry which is aimed at protecting their rights not just over land, religion, customs, culture, but also a lot of other matters.
“The Sabah Law and Native Affairs Ministry is drawing up a new law to resolve the problems of the native people in this state…we will intensify our efforts to defend their rights,” he said at the launch of the World Native People Day celebrations, Sabah level, at Kiulu here Thursday.
Also present were Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.
On the celebrations, Mohd Shafie said the state government would hold the World Native People Day celebrations at the state level each year.
“I am confident that celebrations like this one is a move to promote the culture, foods, dance, clothes and other products of the native people in the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, Madius has asked people in the state to take the initiative to understand the culture and customs of its indigenous peoples.
He said this was very important in ensuring that indigenous peoples and their cultures were not buried.
“We must ensure that our customs and culture as indigenous peoples are always fresh and we should be proud to highlight them to the rest of the world,” he said in his address.
Madius said it was the first time that Sabah was celebrating the event to honour and uphold the culture of the state’s indigenous peoples.
“This is because the time has come for the Sabah government to ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is an international law that protects the culture, land, as well as the way of life of indigenous peoples declared by the United Nations on Sept 13, 2007.