Wednesday, October 27

Ewon: Without language, how can ‘momogun’ be a race?

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KOTA KINABALU: United Sabah Dusun Association (USDA) president Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin yesterday clarified that he did not say the use of ‘momogun’ would pollute the native languages.

Clarifying a headline of local newspapers quoting him as saying that the use of ‘momogun’ would pollute the languages of the ethnic groups in Sabah, he explained that he had actually spoken about preserving the ethnic languages.

“What I said in my speech which was delivered in Dusun was the need for us to conserve our native languages and ethnicity so that we can pass it on to our future generations,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the use of ‘momogun’ as a generic term for the Dusunic ethnic groups in Sabah, Ewon stressed that USDA objected to the proposal by Momogun National Congress (MNC).

“USDA as well as a few other associations and organinisations representing the Dusunic ethnic groups in Sabah do not agree with MNC’s proposal. We want our respective ethnicity to be used in government official forms.

“We have been using our ethnicity for decades, it was used by our ancestors, why need to change?” he asked.

Ewon said they have no objection to the associations and organizations who have chosen to use the word ‘momogun’.

He disclosed that in the 1980s, during the Berjaya government, there had been an attempt to introduce the word ‘pribumi’ as a general term for natives in Sabah but it was strongly objected to and did not materialize.

“This is the same situation now. The Dusunic ethnic groups rejected (MNC’s proposal) because they wanted to retain their respective identities.

“However, let me make it clear here that we are not against any efforts to improve the natives of Sabah in aspects like education, business and economy as mentioned in MNC’s eight points. We are all for progress but on the condition that we are not forced to change the name of our race.

“I am a Dusun… my ancestors were Dusun, now suddenly you say I am a ‘momogun’, this is ridiculous. Also how can ‘momogun’ be a race when it does not have a language? To be classified as a race, there must be a language spoken by the group,” he pointed out.

On MNC’s contention that the word ‘momogun’ would unite all those of Dusunic ethnicitiy, Ewon said that there was unity in diversity, adding, ‘it does not mean that we are of different races, therefore are not united; we have unity in diversity.

And in terms of statistics, there was no breakdown for Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak, he said.

“Under the New Economy Policy, the Government sets aside 30 per cent for Bumiputeras throughout the country, but when we asked for the statistics on Bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak, there is no breakdown, therefore we were not able to get the figure on the performance of ethnic groups in the two states.

“If we put the natives under one group, we will not be able to know the percentage of participation of each ethnic group to the country’s development.

“We need to know the statistics so that we can find out which group is not doing well and therefore can extend our focus and assistance to those who need it,” he stressed.

Ewon also disclosed that the memorandum on the objection of several Dusun ethnic associations would be submitted to the state government. He said hopefully, by next week.