RMK9 – Does It Benefit The Orang Asli?

This is my exchange in Parliament with the Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Tan Sri Muhamad Muhamad Taib on the plight of the Orang Asli in Malaysia 51 years after Merdeka during the 2009 Budget debate in early November.

The only way to end the decades-long neglect of the Orang Asli community in Malaysia is to mainstream the problems of Orang Asli and the following letter is a welcome beginning for such a mainstreaming process.

By A.A.

On 28.04.2006 the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to The United Nations for the candidature of Malaysia to the Human Rights Council, made voluntary pledges and commitments which among others :-

    Under item 14.6 of the Voluntary Pledge Malaysia is to “actively support international action to advance the rights of vulnerable groups which at the date of the pledge included women children and disabled.”

However it conveniently omitted the indigenous people of this country.

See the policy statement of the Bar Council issued by Ambiga Sreenevasan (now Dato’) dated 27.04.2007:

    “The Bar Council further call upon the government to take a holistic approach to all Orang Asli land rights and move in the direction of designating inhabited Orang Asli land as reserved land. It is time we fully recognize that the Orang Asli are a vulnerable but invaluable community whose livelihood, land and culture are deserving of our protection.”

As a member of United Nations Human Rights Council, Malaysia on 29.06.2006 by resolution 1/2 adopted the Declaration on The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This was subsequently adopted by the UN General Assembly by resolution 61/295 on 13.09.2007.

Having adopted UNDRIP and having given its pledge, is Malaysia truly doing what it needs to do for the protection and preservation of this minority group?

The National policy maker must re-look at their proposed policy structure intended for implementation to really conceptualize whether these policies are intended for the empowerment and for the uplifting of the social status of the Orang Asli.

Let us look at the RMK 9 (Rancangan Malaysia Ke-Sembilan).

Are the Orang Asli getting their just share of the apportionment of the national wealth distribution?

A total of RM 377 Million is to be spent, the distribution of these funds is mainly for the purpose of:-

1. RPS (Rancangan Penempatan Semula /Tersusun) which often involves forced settlement of the Orang Asli without free prior and informed consent.

2. Economic Development (that often takes them away from their hunting and foraging grounds)

3. Social Development ( there can be no meaningful social development without a proper appreciation of cultural development that supports their tradition and preserves their heritage.

These three areas of perceived development clearly sways from the categories and criteria of protection adopted under the UNDRIP.

RPS goes against Article 10 UNDRIP that favour an international appreciation that Orang Asli should not be forcibly removed from their lands and that any relocation shall not take place without the free prior and informed consent of the Orang Asli.

When it becomes apparent that RPS itself may be fundamentally flawed, it can be safely said that the national policy of Economic Development implemented in favour of the Orang Asli would result in much of their foraging and hunting ground as well as their dependence on forest produce would be largely interfered with thus leaving them with no real means of sustenance.

With the current economic turmoil and global palm oil slum, disaster awaits much of the Orang Asli reserve that had been converted to TSK (Tanaman Semula Komersial ) often without proper consultation with the Orang Asli communities of that place.

It is now apparent that many Orang Asli communities are questioning the low return from this JHEOA adventure. Some even say that they were better off with their traditional life style of foraging in the forest.

RPS, compounded by the failure of Economic Development (emanating from the boardroom of JHEOA) fails to enhance Social Development of the Orang Asli, such social development cannot be said to be achieved if the introduction RPS uproots the Orang Asli from their traditional and ancestral land that had for generation created a symbiotic and synergistic atmosphere in the preservation of their heritage and culture.

It is most disappointing that statements from the authorities do not offer any reasoned and detailed explanation has to how these authorities intend to overcome the problem of Orang Asli communities in the future.

The recent announcement by the minister of Rural Development in Kampung Sungai Teras in lower Perak during his recent visit is a clear example where the minister was reported to have said about the “giving” of land for the Orang Asli. What Orang Asli need now is the just recognition of their ancestral and customary land and not “giving” them land. Compare the statement of the minister with the correct approach taken by the Perak State Government which has said that it is implementing a process for a proper land recognition of the Orang Asli.

The implementation of RMK 9 must be clearly defined by the government and sufficient time and space be given to the Orang Asli communities to have a transparent consultation process leading to a free prior and informed consent.

Is the government ready for a transparent consultation process with the Orang Asli, statutory bodies and NGO’s that really assist and support the Orang Asli?

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 1:33 am

    Listening to that Mat bin Mat…confirms that throughout the whole world…only in Malaysia…a ruling government will decorate a crook..and install him as a Senator….now ..a Minister.
    He keep saying..”God’s will”…in between.. answering a question.
    I wonder what God will support a proven crook.
    Enough of that….he spoke with a soft and pleasing tone…answering LKS…but not to the point.
    Who cares he sleeps with Alsi people…in few small villages…..when not one Alsi person.. is a Minister…not one heads an important UMNO company..not one is head of ..so many…government departments.
    LKS talk about a bad road…that takes 4 hours to reach ..when it should be one. All it takes…is UMNO do up the simple job…paving the road…for the benefits of the Asli people there.
    Mat bin Mat again ignore…..and went on talking something else..
    This is a good actor..who tell lies and cheat……cannot be trusted at all….yet a hero..now in UMNO.
    THat’s how low….UMNO is right now.

  2. #2 by Tonberry on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 1:44 am

    He certainly has his own abilities(e.g. sweet-talking). Not everybody can run away with a Sultan’s daughter.

  3. #3 by disapointed86 on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 1:48 am

    mosterball..from the way he delivered his speech.. i can see that he is better of compare to MOST of the BN Mps’..Just that i dont know wheather he really did what he spoke…but still he gave a pleasant reply..this is more like a parliament meeting to me..rather than seeing “pasir salak” utter craps..Monsterball, i think we must understand his situation..he is just working for the BN..many things is beyond his control..only change govt can make things different..

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 9:45 am

    The basic problem of Orang Asli is a problem of private rights especially land rights which is traditionally absent. Not only must Orang Asli be given land and other rights (access to education by paying teachers more for teaching them for example) extradordinary from other groups but assistance must be given to them to help protect their rights because their concept of it is poor. They need their own governing system and group protection that is free from state control. Only by doing so can the be brought into the mainstreams. Its not state largesse that they need but legal protection and process that they can avail themselves.

  5. #5 by HJ Angus on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 10:12 am

    One of the unpublished programs for the Orang Asli I heard about was that those who converted to Islam received a monthly payment. Since most of them are animists, why should such a program exist when most taxpayers’ are mainly non-Muslim?

  6. #6 by HJ Angus on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 10:14 am

    but definitely this is a good example of a civilised debate. Well done to the speakers for showing that not all MPs are unworthy

  7. #7 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 11:13 am

    Woah! Malaysia a member of the UN Human Rights Council? That must have been cheap! I read:

    “the Council specified that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and will be subject to periodic review”

    Is there anything that can be done to guarantee Malaysia is reviewed before its membership lapses in 2009? I note it has escaped the 2008 list:


  8. #8 by bc on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 12:48 pm

    It is wasting times to ask UMNO Malay be the caretaker of Orang Asli.

    They are so racist, they never want any goodb improvement to Orang Asli.

    I sure they only interest their best to cover the Orang Asli under the cloud, never want any issue of Orange Asli voice up.

    They do not want any challenge from Orange Asli about who is the first being landed and lived in Malaysia, to protect what they tell others thier special privilege illusion by greed.

    They will lose in the International Court to Orang Asli.

    They only interest their greed.

  9. #9 by AhPek on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 4:29 pm

    In New Zealand the whole seas surrounding the country are given back to the Maoris and the fishing industry is completely dominated by the Maoris.In Kaikura where tourists go for the whale watching experience the boats that take you are maori-owned.In fact Jeffrey I think has said sometime ago that even the sky over new zealand are in Maori hands.So what is the 2M talking about?Even trying to have a dig at the British who have left more than 50 years ago!!
    The orang aslis of this land are the original people of this land and are the most marginalised group in the country,the most aggrieved people here.

  10. #10 by cemerlang on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 7:26 pm

    In many countries, the first people who live on the land are not given the same status as the ones controlling the land. Think about the aboriginies of Australia. Think about the Red Indians of USA. Think about the Eskimos of Alaska, USA. Think about the Mayans of Central America. Think about the Bedouins of the Sahara. Closer to home. Think about our orang asli and think about our orang ulu. In order to have an easier lifestyle, some of the orang asli decided to embrace Islam and lose their real identity. Why is it that these first people of the land do not like to be in the mainstream of the society ? Why is it that they prefer to live like their ancestors ? God willing, they will understand the importance of being in the mainstream of the society. Hasn’t God been willing all this time ? If not, He would have stopped life from ever going on the moment He discovered Adam and Eve sinned.

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 30 November 2008 - 10:38 pm

    In the U.S. native Americans are mostly found in Indian Reservations. Their numbers estimated at a mere 3.0 million have been decimated by disease brought by the white men. They had their lands stolen from them from under their feet.

  12. #12 by ktteokt on Monday, 1 December 2008 - 7:36 am

    These “robbers” not only robbed the Orang Asli of their land but also their status when they proclaim themselves as “BUMIPUTRA”!

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