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Orang Asli not happy with legal changes PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 July 2011 21:48

GERIK: Orang Asli from all over the state attended yesterday a national inquiry consultation session by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) here -- to voice their dissatisfaction over proposed amendment to laws governing Orang Asli affairs, especially those related to land matters.
Community leaders and residents from RPS (Rancangan Penempatan Semula or resettlement schemes) Kemar, RPS Dala as well as RPS Banun, more than 40km from here, raised objections about being issued land titles.

"Many of us are already in the hardcore poor category. Few of us will be able to afford the assessment tax, quit rent or premium which will be incurred by possessing a land grant," said Arop Botak, 43, from RPS Kemar.

He also argued that it was unreasonable for limits to be imposed on the Orang Asli customary land.

"Our settlements have existed for centuries and we view the land as our natural inheritance from god," he said.

Arop expressed fear of losing his livelihood if the size of land for Orang Asli were to be limited through the use of titles.

"We are already feeling at risk of being displaced and face a constant threat from encroachment by loggers.

"We don't want to lose the land and forest which we solely depend on for our crops".

Othman Sending, 55, also from RPS Kemar, felt there was a grey area in the reference of Orang Asli customary land.

"Most of us are still in the dark about which land is regarded as Orang Asli reserve by the government.

"But to us, the land we have settled on is ours and we should not be made to pay for or awarded land that is already our birthright," he said.

Othman, instead, proposed that the government gazette Orang Asli customary land and protect it from further encroachment.

The inquiry on customary land rights of the Orang Asli and indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak began in Tapah last Friday and was chaired by Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam.

Perak and Kedah Orang Asli Affairs Department director Mohd Zamri Mustajap explained that the policy for Orang Asli land allocation was not yet in place.

"The views of the Orang Asli will be taken into account in implementing the policy," he assured the crowd.

Zamri also responded to other Orang Asli issues such as health and education brought up during the session.

Hasmy said the next inquiry would at Gua Musang, Kelantan with other meetings throughout the peninsula until July 29.

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