Abdul Karim: Nothing racially discriminatory about new Sarawak Heritage Bill
0 month ago, 05-Nov-2019
Karim (centre) speaking to reporters after the DUN sitting adjourned for the day, accompanied by his Assistant Minister Datuk Sebastian Ting (left) and his Permanent Secretary Hii Chang Kee (right).
KUCHING: Section 16(1) of the newly passed Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 2019 is not intended to racially discriminate the non-natives of Sarawak, but to protect the states historical heritage.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah explained that the provision was in fact brought over from the now-repealed Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993 to the new Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 2019.
Because of that, there should not have been any issue pertaining to Section 16(1) as pointed out by Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen during his debate on the amendment bill earlier at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) earlier today.
This provision is not something new. It was in the Antiquities Law 1954, and also in the newer Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993. This time when we repealed the 1993 law we just maintained that part.
It was done that way for a reason. But Chong looked at it from another angle, questioning why must non-native have to register (their antiquities) but natives need not have to. I can say for the natives they would still have to register if they want to take out the antiques or if they want to sell them, said Karim.
He was responding to Chongs debate on the Sarawak Heritage Bill 2019 earlier, where the latter pointed out that Section 16(1) was being racially discriminating against the non-natives.
Im a collector of old stamps and coins. Many of them dated since during the Brookes times or about 150 years old. Even stamps during formation of Malaysia are over 50 years old. These stamps are all regarded as antiquities under the section.
If you go see Section 16 (of the bill) imposed on me, any person other than a native of Sarawak in possession of antiquities must register them.
Failing which there is this penalty of RM20,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years. This is ridiculous, Chong told a press conference after his debate earlier.
Section 16(1) provides that any person other than a native of Sarawak who is in possession of any antiquity shall register such antiquity with the director or any officer specially authorised by him in such manner and such time as maybe prescribed as rules provided under Section 80 and 16(2).
Meanwhile, Section 2(1) of the new ordinance defined antiquity as any object whether moveable or imovable, or part of the soil, or underwater within the territory of Sarawak which has been constructed, shaped, painted, carved, inscribed, erected or otherwise produced or modified by human/non-human agency and which is or reasonably believed to be at least 50 years old.
Karim said native or non-native, whoever wishes to transport or sell antiques as per Section 2(1) must register the items solely to protect Sarawaks heritage from unscrupulous collectors.
He also pointed out that under Section 80 of the Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 2019, the minister, with the authority vested unto him by the state cabinet, could override the ordinance as he sees fit, so that other antiques over 50 years old with little to no historical value, such as generic objects at homes, could be excused from being registered.
He was referring Chongs stamp-collecting example.