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Amanah calls for amendment to Orang Asli laws

 | March 1, 2017

Party's youth wing says the current Act, meant to protect the Orang Asli community, is being used as a mechanism to control them instead.

Wan-Anwar-Wan-Ibrahim-orangasliPETALING JAYA: Amanah Youth has called for the amendment of the Orang Asli Act 1954 (Act 134) to ensure it is not used to control the minority group.

The current Act, which was meant to protect the Orang Asli community, in reality, has become a mechanism to control them, Amanah Youth vice-president, Wan Anwar Wan Ibrahim, said in a statement today.

He said the Act forced the Orang Asli to obtain approval from the government to collect forest produce on their own lands.

It also gave the government the right to decide on the appointment and removal of Orang Asli committee chiefs, he said.

“In fact, the minister is the one who gets to decide whether a person is an Orang Asli or not.

“That’s why there are those who opined that Act 134 is not just an instrument used to control the ‘movements’ of the Orang Asli, but it also acts against the right to self-determination of the minority community.”

He said the Act gave the Orang Asli various privileges, such as maintaining their Orang Asli status even when they changed their religion, and the protection of their reserve lands.

According to Wan Anwar, the Act failed to protect the Orang Asli and this was the reason behind the logging crisis faced by the community in Kelantan, Johor, Perak and Pahang.

“What has complicated the matter even more is that when the actions of the loggers clearly affected the interests of the Orang Asli, they (loggers) appeared to be protected by the authorities.

This, he said, was because the laws give the minister and the relevant authorities “the power to stop, arrest, and remove them (the loggers) from Orang Asli’s areas or reserve lands”.

If this was the current practice, he questioned how the law could empower and help the Orang Asli become more independent.

Wan Anwar also said it was time to amend Act 134 to ensure the rights of the Orang Asli were recognised and protected. The last time the Act was amended was in 1967.

“A clearer and more comprehensive Orang Asli Land Alienation and Development Policy also needs to be formulated and enforced immediately.

“Their status as one of the main races in Malaysia must also be uplifted in line with the Federal Constitution.

“It is illogical to still have one minister determining the Orang Asli’s way of life, fate, and future,” he said.


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