March 3, 2009
Dialogue between Selangor and the Orang Asli
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! 🙂
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