New land policy for Orang Asli: boon or bane?

By Yip Ai Tsin | Feb 14, 10 2:56pm | Malaysiakini

A new land policy purported to be a boon for the 150,000-strong Orang Asli community has all but been received as good news, given the many questions surrounding the announcement, said activists.

Unless further details are forthcoming from the government, the policy announced by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last December may even undermine the rights and interests of the Orang Asli, they alleged.

On Dec 4 last year, Muhyiddin announced that some 20,000 Orang Asli families will be given by state governments freehold land titles for residential use and for oil palm, rubber and other crop cultivation under an agreement between the government and developers.

The number made up 72 per cent of the total of 27,841 Orang Asli families and involve 50,563.51 hectares of land in Peninsular Malaysia, said Muhyiddin according to reports.

The size of the land for each family would range between two to six hectares for farming and 5,000 sq feet to one tenth of a hectare for housing, depending on what the state governments can afford, Muhyiddin said further.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur organised by the Bar Council recently, Orang Asli activists said the policy raised more questions than answers.

For one thing, asked the council’s Orang Asli Affairs Committee head Augustine Anthony, how is the plan expected to improve the lot of Orang Aslis when it envisages them to be paying for the costs – such as surveying costs, premiums, registration, and “other payments advanced by the developers” – of the land ‘granted’ to them?

The reception of the freehold land titles, said Anthony, may result in the Orang Asli families concerned incurring debts of up to thousands of ringgit as a result of the developers’ initial outlays on the land.

“The methods of financing have not been discussed and revealed in depth,” said Anthony, and these must be ironed out and explained to the Orang Asli in detail before any deals are cut.

Another question raised by Muhyiddin’s announcement is the effect of the policy on the Orang Aslis’ communal traditions of land ownership, given the plan to give individual titles to the heads of Orang Asli families.

Social activist Tijah Yok Chopil, meanwhile, expressed concern that the varying availability of land in the different states may lead to confusion as to which families qualified for how much land, or what is to be done when the size of the land grants differ from one family to another.

Compounding the problem even further is Muhyiddin’s statement that the land policy plan bars those awarded the land grants from filing any claims in court.

“This is a restriction that is against the Federal Constitution,” said Tijah, citing the right of every citizen to access to legal justice.

Former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, similarly, lamented the restriction recourse to the court, and described the land policy as a “terrible bargain to the Orang Asli”.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Monday, 15 February 2010 - 1:01 pm

    Who are the “developers” ? As usual there is no transparency involved and I’ll wager my bottom ringgit that those connected to UMNO will gain all the unexplained “fees and expenses” for facilitating the deals.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Monday, 15 February 2010 - 1:11 pm

    Remember Wee Ka Siong’s role in the PKFZ scandal ?

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Monday, 15 February 2010 - 3:59 pm


    I am not for giving free land to the Orang Asli. Its no different than free housing. Even if there is sale restrictions, its been proven time and again, it does not work.

    What is needed is allowing or training Orang Asli to make a living off the land first with the option to buy it at a discounted price. If they can’t make a living, there is no point giving them property, they will lose it and even get deeper into trouble..
    IF you examine the history of Felda where pioneers have to actually work for the land albeit at a discount, there was also significant failures. With the proposed scheme, they are setting the orang Asli up for higher chance of failures if you ask me.

  4. #4 by ekompute on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 2:49 am

    “Compounding the problem even further is Muhyiddin’s statement that the land policy plan bars those awarded the land grants from filing any claims in court.”

    This is what UMNO is good for. The things they do cannot stand scrutiny and that’s why they don’t allow the courts to hear any grievances. What UMNO says goes. Is this democracy? Are they wakil rakyat or wakil sendiri? By the looks of it, UMNO acts more like raja than wakil rakyat!

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 9:42 am

    Does it matter who owns a piece of land?
    In 1M’sia, you may b d legal owner of a piece of land, but someone who has d right jalan n connection CAN SELL your land without your knowledge n pocket d $$$$
    This sort of transaction has already happened n d court does not proctect d owners

  6. #6 by Dipoh Bous on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 10:21 am

    Syabas TPM, what a great plan to produce a few more millionaires !

    No, I don’t mean the orang aslis, if you get what I mean.

    Not long ago the abacus (sempua) was introduced in primary schools in our country. Dozens were sent to every school. After a few years, another directive was issued stating the earlier version should be replaced because only abacus using white beads could be used. So, another dozens were sent to every school again. Today the teaching of maths using abacus is unheard of!

    Of course the real aim has been accomplished : to create a few millionaires besides adding tons of wealth for the existing superrich guys!

    Mark my word, this orang asli plan is no different. Should we salute these guys for their brilliant ideas to enrich themselves?

  7. #7 by Dipoh Bous on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 10:36 am

    By the way, I am still a partyless ordinary malaysian citizen.

    I wish to be a member of DPM (Democratic Party of Malaysia). It’s far better than DAP,UMNO,MIC, etc,etc,etc…….) because in its application forms, one does not find race,religion,state of origin,bumiputera,langitputera,airputera or the likes. It only says BANGSA MALAYSIA !

    Where can I obtain the forms? Perhaps I’ll remain partyless many,many more years to come. :(

  8. #8 by lopez on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 12:13 pm

    good lord, does it means they have to sacrifice their beliefs and values of their ancestors…like take up there is one creator ….hmmmm in return and must vote for ….or else…stop fresh water or power supply …or no free handouts.

    not bad idea…at least can leave in brick houses and have proper toilets like in errr…what ‘s that place called.

  9. #9 by lopez on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 12:16 pm

    Wait a minute ….okay can name the road with your chiefs name ……but we hold options rights to change for nation interests okay.

  10. #10 by ekans on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 4:33 pm

    Why suddenly there’s a need to give the Orang Asli new land? Don’t the Orang Asli already have their own ancestral land? Or Is it becausen their ancestral land has already being exploited by the unscrupulous?

  11. #11 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - 5:01 pm

    The figure 5,000 sq ft is less than 5% of an hectre. It may look spacious to the town folks but not so for a kampong residence. Anyway, the land rightly belongs to them!

  12. #12 by dagen on Wednesday, 17 February 2010 - 11:09 am

    There they go again. There they go again. And no guesses needed. Umnoputras will immediately be recognised as orang asli too.

  13. #13 by dagen on Wednesday, 17 February 2010 - 11:13 am

    Giving land is a small matter. Collecting their NRIC particulars is the real motive. And these people will be dispersed in ways to bolster umno’s strength for GE13. And dont discount proxy voting.

  14. #14 by DCLXVI on Wednesday, 17 February 2010 - 1:06 pm

    By the Federal Constitution’s definition, the Orang Asli of the peninsular and also the indigenous natives of Sabah and Sarawak are also bumiputras just like the Malays.
    However, the Umnoputras seem to subscribe to this ideology that they are bumiputras who are ‘more supreme’ than the non-Malay bumiputras.
    For example, 1 such Umnoputra had once suggested that when non-Malay bumiputra Christians from Sabah & Sarawak come over to the peninsular, they are not allowed to use a certain Arabic word in their prayers although their communities back home have been doing so for many many years…

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