Orang Asli to lose their native land

K Pragalath
| July 2, 2013

If an amendment to the Aboriginal People's Act 1954 is passed in parliament, the Orang Asli stand to lose about 645,000 hectares of their native land.
PETALING JAYA: The Orang Asli community is set to lose about 645,000 hectares of their native land if an amendment to the Aboriginal People’s Act 1954 which will be tabled during the current parliament session is passed.

If passed, it will allow government agencies to take over and develop the Orang Asli’s native land.

Although it is believed that the Orang Asli claim about 645,000 hectares of land, the government has however only listed 129,900 hectares of land under three categories – Orang Asli reserve, land approved for gazetting but not gazetted yet, and plots which the Orang Asli had applied to be gazetted.

Of the 129,900 hectares of land, last year the government said that 50,000 hectares of it would be given to 29,990 Orang Asli families.

“The 129,000 hectares are only 18% of the total land claimed by the Orang Asli community as theirs,” said Center for Orang Asli Concerns coordinator Colin Nicholas.

“From this, the community risks losing 79,000 hectares of their native land. The amendments would affect mostly those Orang Asli in Gua Musang, Kelantan and those living on both sides of the Titiwangsa Range,” he added.

The Orang Asli communities living in the rural areas grow rubber and oil palm, and those living in the forest hunt and gather food for a living.

‘Land alienation policy’

Last October, Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal said that the amendment bill would be tabled during the current parliamentary session after consulting state governments, NGOs and Suhakam.

He was quoted as saying that the Orang Asli interests would be taken care off, and he had dialogue sessions with various parties in October last year.

A month later, the Orang Asli representative, Senator Olian Abdullah, warned the community against trespassing on government land as it is an offence under Land Acquisition Act.

Nicholas, meanwhile, said that the amendment was an extension to the land alienation to the Orang Asli policy.

“The land alienation to the Orang Asli policy was passed by the cabinet in December 2009. The amendments to the Aboriginal People’s Act is done to ensure that it complies with the policy,” he said when contacted today.

“The government had negotiations with concerned parties but it was all an eye wash. The policy is already being implemented in Pahang and Malacca,” he added.

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