Orang Asli allocations – not how much but what reaches them

The Budget states that the government is committed to improving the quality of life of Orang Asli, allocating RM170 million to the Department of Orang Asli Affairs to carry out numerous programmes and projects.

We should listen to the views of the Orang Asli community, and the following are some feedback from the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC).

With regard to the financing of Orang Asli development, the issue is not how much is allocated in the annual budget but how much actually reaches the Orang Asli in real terms, in concrete benefits.

Non-delivery of benefits

A survey conducted COAC, POASM, YKPM and other NGOs involved with Orang Asli issues found that subsidies and allocations meant for the Orang Asli were not delivered to them. This included the education support for students coming from poor households (which the PM announced last year was increased from RM30.00 per student per month to RM50.00).

In some districts, the transportation for Orang Asli schoolchildren was disrupted as the contractors were not paid their fees for months at a stretch (in Tapah this year, about 250 Orang Asli students had to skip school when the bus contractors decided to protest the 7-month delay in payment of their fees by refusing to transport the schoolchildren).

In fact, in yesterday’s NST, in a report on the launching of the K9 school for the Orang Asli in the DPM’s constituency, the Education Minister admitted that the Orang Asli are now getting what the Malays got 50 years ago!

Land encroachment and development

Encroachment into Orang Asli traditional lands — a result of non-recognition of these lands as titled Orang Asli territories — have led to logging, land-grabbing and outside development (for others).

It is now generally accepted, even by the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA), that there can be no real development for the Orang Asli if there is no security of tenure.

Thus far, the courts have also accorded the Orang Asli recognition of full title to their traditional lands. The authorities, however, still choose to deny the Orang Asli this fundamental right, thereby allowing the remaining lands of the Orang Asli to be slowly whittled away.

Some of the lands that were approved for gazetting as Orang Asli Reserves as far back as the 1960s and 1970s were never administratively gazetted. In fact, some of these areas have now been reclassified as state land or Malay Reserve Land, or have been given to individuals and corporations — without the Orang Asli’s knowledge, let alone consent.

And while it is being bandied about that the proposed Orang Asli Land Policy will address the Orang Asli land problem by setting aside some 75,900 hectares for 30,000 Orang Asli families, the reality is that the Orang Asli will stand to lose 51,798 hectares (40 per cent) of the 127,698 hectares that the government already recognises in 2003 as Orang Asli lands.

Furthermore, these 6.25 acre (2.53 hectares) family plots are assigned to them on a 99-year-lease basis. Nothing can be more graphic of the Orang Asli’s fate — that their inalienable right to their land now has an expiry date.

Agricultural development contracts keeping Orang Asli in poverty

At a time when high commodity prices for rubber and oil palm are enabling smallholders to reap excess returns on their hard work, many Orang Asli cultivators are only enjoying dividends of about RM1,200.00 to RM1,500.00 per year.

This is because the JHEOA has contracted out the development and management of such agricultural schemes to contractors such as Risda and Felcra, as well as other private contractors, who charge huge amounts as management fees, apart from deducting for fertiliser, labour (usually foreign), and other costs. The Orang Asli are treated as mere share-holders, enjoying the annual dividend that works out to about RM100.00 per month. In fact, there has been at least one case of an Orang Asli being arrested and put away in detention for tapping his own rubber trees (in RPS Betau, Pahang).

(Speech 17 on 2008 Budget in Parliament on Monday, September 10, 2007)

  1. #1 by undergrad2 on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 10:34 am

    ‘Orang Asli’ when translated means ‘original people’. It is the declared objective of this UMNO run government to ensure that these people remained substantially the way they were ‘originally’ found.

  2. #2 by sotong on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 11:06 am

    This is the real marginalised people of the country.

    The government had grossly neglected and betrayed them by letting greedy people exploit their land and destroy their culture, traditions and their unique way of life….this is one of our country greatest shame.

  3. #3 by Ctrl-Alt-Del on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 11:27 am

    Actually, those Orang Asli who have embraced Islam have a much better access to benefits offered by the Govt. I’ve seen with my own eyes the Muslim Orang Asli have brick houses, water, electricity, buses for school children, etc. You should see the condition of the non-Muslim Orang Asli in the same vicinity. All the above mentioned necessities are not part of their life.

  4. #4 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 11:42 am

    Can the Auditor-General confirm how much of the allocations actually reach the Orang Asli’s pockets or projects? Give us some details on how the $$$ were spent?

    Was it RMxxx,000 for a few pairs of screw-drivers and some expired packs of Maggi Mee? Hey, Orang Asli may not be able to count but AG surely can!

  5. #5 by waterman on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 11:54 am

    Uncle Lim

    As a citizen of Malaysia,I would like to elect a Government that genuinely takes care of everyone. A Government that will do its outmost to eradicate every crook & every cheat and wisely optimise the use of our every natural resource and invest into every precious human capital.

    I’ve only been intorduced here for a few months and I’m absolutely shocked to get to know the appalling state of affairs of our nation, so much different from that as painted in all the major newspapers. I’m afraid the majority of our nation is still in the dark.

    But lets be honest, your current channel of information here has very limited audience. You should consider getting your messages translated into other languages in the web also and that will enlarge your audience quite substantially.

    I’m sure a lot of us are eager to participate in disseminating your info quickly on to our relatives & friends who may not have internet access and who will in turn inform theirs’. You may make available periodically simple one page printable summary of info you wish to be passed on.

    GE is just round the corner, I don’t believe you will score much without a strong coalition with other genuinely caring parties but you know far better.

    Pardon me I’m just exploring… I’m very concerned about the future of every Malaysian irrespective of race & religion.

    I’m just wanting to do something more apart from using my vote wisely. You have managed to get a lot of us ranting & screaming & shouting here in your blog but Uncle please GET US INVOLVED in the way you know best, for the good of our country, Malaysia.

    Thanks Uncle & may God bless you & your family & Malaysia, the country we love!


  6. #6 by AntiRacialDiscrimination on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 12:09 pm

    Orang Asli are the real bumiputra in Malaysia. Malays are not.

    Malays are also one of those BANGSA ASING who came here and hijacked the bumiputra status which rightfully belongs to Orang Asli.

  7. #7 by waterman on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 12:23 pm

    Uncle Lim
    Ok I just found your DAP web site.

  8. #8 by AnakTiriMalaysia on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 12:29 pm

    [AntiRacialDiscrimination Says:
    September 14th, 2007 at 12: 09.53

    Orang Asli are the real bumiputra in Malaysia. Malays are not.]

    Yes, Malays are PENDATANG ASING DARI INDONESIA….. just came to Malaysia few generation earlier than INDIANS & CHINESE

  9. #9 by Jamesy on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 1:36 pm

    All the more the NEP should be abolished and a new policy to catered for the poorest of the poor irrespective of race and religion. The Orang Asli and those indigenous people in Sabah and Sarawak should be given priority. Even a simple life necessity like food, clothes, electricity, water and education is missing in their life.

    Expect the UMNO people to help the Orang Asli while retaining the NEP to enrich the undeserved rich UMNOputras is a smack in the face of the Orang Asli. 50 years or more down the line the livelihood of the Orang Asli will still be the same as always.

    And you are still wondering whether corruption be eradicated in Malaysia?

  10. #10 by badak on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 2:00 pm

    If the orang Asli wants aid from the goverment they must be BN supporters, If they are not, then just forget it.No way can the opposition hold a ceramah in the many orang asli settlement all around the country.

  11. #11 by sotong on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 3:48 pm

    Could we just call ourselves Bangsa Asli ( only for Orang Asli ) and Bangsa Asing?

    Or Bangsa Bertongkat and Bangsa Asing

    Or just Bangsa Malaysia.

  12. #12 by undergrad2 on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 8:01 pm

    The Orang Asli is worse off than the native Americans. There is today a mere 1.0 million of them mostly living in Indian Reservations. Every treaty that was ever signed with them was broken. Europeans took away their lands and destroyed their means of livelihood, decimating them in the process through a policy today known as ethnic cleansing.

    During a decade or so that I’ve been here I saw three of them on a bus, sitting at the back of the bus by themselves looking very much like foreigners in their own country. It is sad.

    But at least there is public recognition today that they are an ‘endangered specie’ worthy of protection by the U.S. government along with their buffalos!

  13. #13 by k1980 on Saturday, 15 September 2007 - 8:50 am

    Good riddance to MCA?
    Either stand up to defend the constitution, both in parliament and outside, or be prepared to be shipped out of parliament at the next elections. Please convey this to your colleagues in MCA.

  14. #14 by shortie kiasu on Saturday, 15 September 2007 - 11:14 am

    May be we find some answers in the Auditor General’s report in the past and keep track of the spending in the future, also future AG’s report, on the spending on the Orang Asli allocation and budget.

  15. #15 by AhPek on Sunday, 16 September 2007 - 6:47 am

    The original people of Malaysia are the orang asli and the rest are pendatangs.Further more the most disadvantaged group is the orang aslis.
    If this nation has any sense of fair play it would certainly behove that special rights and special aids should be allotted to the orang aslis because of the following reasons:
    (1) They are very very small in numbers.
    (2) They have no political power.
    (3) They have no financial power
    (4) They have no military power
    It is only right they should be protected.Not the Malays of this country for they not only have all the powers stated above they also are the majority group of this country!

  16. #16 by undergrad2 on Monday, 17 September 2007 - 12:46 am

    In the U.S. today the native Americans (mistakenly referred to as the Indians because someone thought he landed in India) are regarded as the ‘original’ inhabitants – but there is a growing body of opinion which says the ‘original’ inhabitants were Chinese from China and native Americans were descendants of these original inhabitants.

    They were then followed by the Europeans who made America their home and they call it the ‘home of the free’ and the ‘land of the brave’. I have a problem with that because they enslaved the Indians and set themselves free – free to plunder and exploit, and in the process displaced the Indians first through deciminating the buffalos which the Indians depended for their sustenance, and stealing their land from under their feet so they could get at the gold buried underneath. They broke all the treaties they signed with the Indians. There was nothing brave about that!

    That is the first wave of mass migration. They came on sea going vessels from Europe in search of a better life.

    Today we see another wave of migration but this time they came on airplanes and containers of tankers, on foot through the desert of Mexico climbing over fences and in tunnels. The Mexicans claimed California as being theirs annexed by these Europeans from Europe.

    So who is original and who is not depends on one’s perspective. In the end some say everybody came from Africa. Even that is disputed because some say the Garden of Eden is between the Euphrates River and the Tigris River situated in today’s Iraq where the first Man walked.

    And so life goes on.

  17. #17 by undergrad2 on Monday, 17 September 2007 - 12:50 am

    ooops decimating

  18. #18 by sotong on Monday, 17 September 2007 - 6:30 am

    Chinese could sail long distance long before the European.

  19. #19 by AnakTiriMalaysia on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 12:55 am

    Seems like the government treat the ORANG ASLI similar to RESERVE FOREST…. don’t let development change its status quo………and maybe as a tourist attraction product?

  20. #20 by aslirick on Monday, 4 February 2008 - 12:29 pm

    its not the race – its the religion, only muslim asli is treated good, there is a asli place where the penghulu is pay for anyone he convince to be islam – worst case is – if u dont convert u will be left out…no help or whatsoever…muslim asli live near roadside-non muslim live in places where car cannot enter?? why…this is the goverment lah….u join muslim u get whatever u want. what is fair?
    how asli vote….BN u get help…others u get hell..fair or not ???

  21. #21 by brokenpot on Tuesday, 9 September 2008 - 3:56 pm

    JHEOA should consider hiring more Orang Asli to run the department. There are many highly educated and qualified OA to fill important post in this department. The only thing they need to do is to be sincere and look harder. OA is the best people to run the department and not other races. Other races should learn to work with them, partner with them and not to lord over them.It’s time we give them back what belongs to them-their sense of dignity.

  22. #22 by Argus on Thursday, 27 November 2008 - 1:50 pm

    one of the main objective of JHEOA is to ‘assimilate’ the OA into mainstream. sounds good aye? but what exactly they mean is, converting them to Muslim.. this itself has caused much of the OA culture to be lost..
    no more give-and-take policy please..give them good education and let them choose their path..the gov thinks they’re giving them the best and doing their best but are they?? the answer is obvious.. the OA still being forced to move outa their customary land.. and many have been living on lands for generations and only to find out they’re actually ‘parasiting’ on someone’s lands.. the lands suppose to be theirs but our government betray them..
    perhaps some OA wanna move outa forest but they’re not ready yet..please help them by giving better education, a neutral education that allows them to make the best choice for themselve..

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