March 3, 2009
The weekend was a busy one, and one of the mini-Everests we achieved was having an inaugural dialogue session between the Selangor Menteri Besar and the Orang Asli community in Selangor. I personally found it incredibly rewarding to be present at this historic occasion.
The Orang Asli themselves were extremely excited, since it was the very first time ever they would be having an official dialogue with the Selangor State Government represented by the Menteri Besar. They were mainly Temuan, but other communities also showed up from far and wide. All in all there were about more than 500 Orang Asli seated in the hall, in Bukit Lanjan.
It was quite a beautiful sight, having all of them with their “lilitan” on their hands (a woven headpiece).
They presented a brief history and background of the Orang Asli to the MB and the other officials present, and then some speeches and thereafter a question and answer session.
The main demands of Orang Asli are on land rights. They have been extremely frustrated over the fact that their rights to land have not been sufficiently recognised. There is much contention over this issue right now, and various takes of it. To my mind, Orang Asli land has to be recognised and gazetted – and proper land titles given to them who live atop it. Specific demarcations have to be done, so they are not robbed of these rights in the future when and if some commercial developer comes up to take it away from them.
One of the commitments is to now expedite the process of dealing with the stalemate of Orang Asli land in Selangor. One of the great things the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak did was to form an Orang Asli Taskforce, headed and led by Orang Asli themselves. They would then deal with these problems and report it to the Exco. This was applauded by many.
Similarly, I think we will see things moving along in Selangor. The Bernama news report quoted the MB as saying that the existing Selangor Land Task Force would be meeting with the Orang Asli Taskforce soonest possible. Yes, I am looking forward very much to the formation of an OA Land Taskforce for Selangor.
This would work wonders in terms of moving forward and determine once and for all the problems that have for far too long plagued our very own native community of Selangor. They have lived here for hundreds of years, and imagine their dignity and honour being taken away from them systematically over the last 50 years. Only now is their maruah being returned to them.
I was deeply moved, listening to the humble pleas of the representatives from 7 districts in Selangor (Hulu Selangor, Kuala Selangor, etc.) – I suppose I’ll be poring over these over the next weeks! 🙂
It is interesting to observe the different takes that the bloggers took, on the recent “Dialogue with the Menteri Besar” on Sunday evening. You can view their reports of the event to get a holistic picture of what happened and was said, so visit the blogs of Nat Tan, Datuk Kadir Jasin, Rockys Bru, and others who were present but haven’t blogged about it yet included Haris Ibrahim, Khoo Kay Peng, Nuraina Samad, Malaysia Waves (through his representative), Dina Zaman, the Loyarburok team, Patrick Teoh and Fahmi Fahdzil. There was a whole range of others who were invited, or who will be invited in the next round – but we had a good group of people to discuss the issues of Selangor with.
Certain quotes have been taken from the meeting, and they have been discussed in the comments sections – quite interesting as well to observe these.
It was a fairly honest and critical session, where the bloggers stated in no uncertain terms their grouses and keen interpretations of their take of the Selangor government a year after. They pulled no punches in stating the facts to their minds. Some raised the issue of communication, which in a sense should push us to ensuring the messages are reaching the ground level people. Especially when there are policies and plans in existence but word is not getting out.
The purpose of the session – as was mentioned – was to acknowledge the important role that blogs are increasingly playing in shaping opinions, reaching the numbers of people and communicating with them in a fluid way, bloggers are becoming the “ears and eyes” of the people, a conscience, independent watchdogs and so on. Whether in praise or critical, blogs in Malaysia can change how people view matters of public life. Continual engagement is necessary.
It was held in a rather informal atmosphere, where people were able to speak their minds freely – and yet, all in a very cordial setting. This is the kind of dialogue I think is worth having, and should continue. In an environment where people feel they can give feedback – whether for the purposes of being constructive or not is a different matter altogether – and know that their responses are being taken into consideration seriously.
All the feedback provided much food for thought, and these are all scribbled into my steadily-filling-up notebook (it’s halfway through and I’ve only been here a month and a half!) (and it’s a thick book) – but I am very glad that we had this session with the bloggers. As someone mentioned, it could have happened sooner, but a hundred-mile journey always begins with the first step.
Following on from this, I can see possible outcomes from the session branching out in multiple manners. Let’s see what can be done, and you’re welcome to provide feedback here also on what you think!