• *Circular No 247/2012*
    *Dated 26 Nov 2012*

    *The Struggles of the Orang Asli and Other Minorities in Malaysia:*
    *Seminar in Conjunction with Human Rights Day 2012 (7 and 8 Dec 2012)*

    The Bar Council Committee on Orang Asli Rights, together with the Bar
    Council Human Rights Committee (“HRC”) and the National Human Rights
    Society (“HAKAM”), is organising an important seminar on the challenges
    faced by the Orang Asli and other minorities in Malaysia. This seminar is
    being organised in conjunction with Human Rights Day 2012, and will be held
    at Grand Seasons Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on 7 and 8 Dec 2012 (Friday and
    Saturday).

    Details regarding the programme, and the registration form for the event,
    are provided below.

    The constitutional fundamental right to life means more than mere
    existence. It includes the right to land, the right to dwelling and the
    right to livelihood. These rights must be protected for all peoples of our
    land, including the Orang Asli.

    The aim of the seminar is two-fold. Firstly, it is intended to create
    awareness of the critical threats that continue to jeopardise the Orang
    Asli’s customary way of life and their very existence as indigenous peoples
    of the land. The focus will be on the Orang Asli’s struggle to protect
    their ancestral lands from exploitation and deprivation, both in West and
    East Malaysia. Some of the affected “hot spot” areas that will be
    discussed are Tasik Chini (Pahang), Gua Musang (Kelantan), Murum Dam and
    Baram Dam (Sarawak), and Kaiduan Dam and Tambatuon Dam (Sabah). The
    challenges faced by the Orang Asli in these areas have reached boiling
    point.

    There will also be a special session, organised by the National Human
    Rights Society (“HAKAM”), on the right to education of Orang Asli children.
    This special session aims to create public awareness that education is a
    universal human right that must be given priority by the authorities,
    particularly the Ministry of Education and Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli.

    Secondly, the seminar will provide a platform for a discussion on the
    contemporary issues that plague minority groups in Malaysia, and the many
    human rights challenges that remain unresolved. The discourse on minority
    rights will be led by the HRC.

    The presentations and discourse at the seminar will be led by experienced
    local and foreign speakers. The speakers will address recent developments
    in the law and the need for law reform in light of attempts to diminish
    constitutionally-protected fundamental rights. There will also be
    interesting case studies on a number of ongoing disputes throughout
    Malaysia, which will give context to the deliberations at the seminar and
    will serve to highlight the enormity of the challenges faced by minorities,
    particularly the Orang Asli. The highlight of the seminar will be
    presentations by the Orang Asli and other minority groups, and this will be
    an opportunity to hear them speak directly about their fears and concerns
    over the evisceration of their rights.

    It is also the objective of the seminar to encourage Members of the Bar to
    volunteer their services to represent the underprivileged and marginalised
    members of our society, in the latter’s efforts to assert and protect their
    constitutional rights as minorities and citizens of Malaysia. In the best
    tradition of the Bar, we want to raise and equip an *army of volunteer
    lawyers* who will be willing to step up and stand in the gap for them.

    Another important aspect of the seminar is the creation of public awareness
    of these issues. This seminar will be open to members of the public, and
    we hope that it will lead to more awareness and edification on these
    important issues. This will therefore also be a clarion call to members of
    the public to join hands with us in our efforts to uphold fundamental
    constitutional rights.

    Members of the Bar and the public who wish to know more about issues
    affecting the Orang Asli, and want to be involved in the pursuit of justice
    for them, should not miss the opportunity of attending this seminar.

    For more information on this event, please contact Christina Gomez,
    Officer, Bar Council, by telephone at 03-2050 2087 or by email at
    <christina@malaysianbar.org.my>christina@malaysianbar.org.my.

    *Steven Thiru and Hon Kai Ping*
    *Co-Chairpersons*
    *Committee on Orang Asli Rights*