Thursday, March 18, 2010

Orang Asli not bumiputera, say experts

It is a little known fact but the Orang Asli are not included in the 'bumiputera' category under the federal constitution, according to experts consulted by Malaysiakini.

However a statement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz in Parliament yesterday suggests otherwise.

Answering a question on the need to clarify the 'bumiputera' status, Nazri said the definition includes the Malays, the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli

orang asli protest in putrajaya 170310Indigenous rights activist Suhaimi Saad said that Article 153 of the federal constitution reads that the term bumiputera only refers to the 'Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak'.

The inclusion of the Orang Asli under the 'bumiputera' category will mean more privileges for the marginalised community, he said.

However, he added, these special privileges will mean nothing if the Orang Asli are still forced to live in deplorable conditions.

"I know of Orang Asli villagers in Pahang who live on RM10 a month while others live at rubbish dumps and source food from the trash.

"They live without water or electricity supply and rely on swamps for drinking and bathing water. So what good are these privileges?" said Suhaimi - who is also PKR Pahang Orang Asal Affairs chairperson - when contacted.

Privileges only for select few

According to Suhaimi, who has worked with the community for decades, the rights of the Orang Asli are actually protected by the Aboriginal People's Act 1954 but even this has been disregarded.

"The Orang Asli have their own Act but these are all just verbal policies," he said.

zaid ibrahim pc umno sacking 041208 07Nazri's statement also puzzled Pakatan Rakyat coalition advisor Zaid Ibrahim (right) who pointed out that the minister's ignorance exemplifies the Orang Asli's plight.

"I have referred to Articles 153 and 161 of the federal constitution [...] the Orang Asli are not awarded privileges the same as the 'bumiputera'.

"This is the Orang Asli's lot in this country. The minister does not even know their status, so how can they receive the support required? Only selected 'migrants' [...] receive privileges," he said.

Commenting on Rural Development Minister Shafie Afdal's statement yesterday, describing the protest as a 'sightseeing trip', Suhaimi said the government is now 'becoming cleverer'.

"They are now clever in trying to neutralise the situation. They give free food and try to make it into a festival but yesterday (was not a sightseeing trip but) a demonstration," he said.

Orang Asli fought for 50 years

He added the Orang Asli fight was not new and has been going on for 50 years but there was little to show for it.

"This country should belong to the Orang Asli. But the majority of them live in situations akin to how Malay villagers used to live in the pre-independence era," he said.

orang asli protest in putrajaya 170310If the government is serious about assisting the community, he added, they should look into developing comprehensive programmes to bring down the economic barriers surrounding them.

"They should develop programmes like Felda. Give the Orang Asli 10 acres of agricultural land each and another half acre to live on and help them out of their economic difficulties instead of handing over a pittance," said Suhaimi.

This will be among the topics discussed at PKR's Orang Asal Convention scheduled to take place in Pahang this May with the outcome to be used in formulating Pakatan's policies, he added.

The convention is expected to attract 800 representatives of the Orang Asli community as well as representatives of the indigenous people in East Malaysia.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

1 comment:

Rachel.QingRou 卿柔 said...

I've found your article when I was searching through the Google about the question --- "Is Bumiputra including Orang Asli? " and thanks for the information! There's necessary that we should raise our concern about the natives' living condition.