“We don't want your sympathy. We are not beggars. We only ask for your respect and appreciation. We want what has been taken from us to be given back.”
By Patrick Lee
Source: Free Malaysia Today.
PETALING JAYA: Sidelined and insulted by the government, the Orang Asli are fuming and want their rights back and “not your sympathy”.
The Orang Asli Villages Network in Peninsular Malaysia (JKOASM) has vehemently opposed Budget 2011, calling it the beginning of the end to their traditional ways.
When unveiling the budget, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced that RM100 million would be allocated for various programmes, including resolving Orang Asli land rights and border settlement issues.
The budget also said that tok batins (village headmen) were to be given a RM800 monthly allowance, a RM350 raise from their usual RM450. However, JKOASM revealed that the headmen received less than half of that amount (RM200).
“If the real amount is RM450 a month, where did the other RM250 go?” the statement asked.
Besides, instead of being handed out on a monthly basis, the allowance was claimed to have been given once a year, or every three months.
The statement added that these payments were sometimes delayed for several months without any explanation.
“We don't understand why the government does not leave us in peace. It seems to be out to get us on purpose.”
The government was also criticised for not providing the most basic amenities to hundreds of Orang Asli villages, despite several multi-million ringgit allocations.
“Where have all the allocations gone? There are still hundreds of Orang Asli villages that do not have access to clean water, electricity or tarred roads. These villagers have to trek many miles just to get their water,” the statement said.
Citing development failures such as Kampung Buluh Nipis, Pos Betau, Bukit Lanjan and even the glamourously-styled Damansara Perdana, the statement said that the government only caused more hardship for the Orang Asli.
The statement also expressed its disappointment with Najib for referring to the Orang Asli as Sakai and Jakun during his speech at the recent Umno general assembly.
"Other races get angry and hurt over racially insensitive comments. The Orang Asli have feelings, too, and we don't like being referred to as (Sakai and Jakun),” the statement said.
"Najib does not respect the rights of the Orang Asli as the original peoples of Malaysia."
JKOASM also took a swipe at the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA) for allowing other government agencies such as the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority, Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority and the police force to interfere in Orang Asli matters.
According to JKOASM, the department had allegedly made it easier for the government to encroach upon native land, bit by bit.
Life and blood
The statement also said that Najib had ignored its memorandum to the government earlier this year.
On March 17, about 1,000 Orang Asli descended on Putrajaya and handed over the memorandun signed by more than 9,000 Orang Asli to officials of the Prime Ministetr's Department. They were protesting the government's land policy.
According to the memorandum, the new policy, adopted by the National Land Council in December 2009, would grant land to the Orang Asli. The government would divide sections of land into two to six acres each without consulting the Orang Asli.
“Our land is our life and blood and not just one part of the economy,” the statement said, adding that a Royal Commission of Inquiry should be set up to investigate the alleged mistreatment of the Orang Asli.
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