What’s happened to Cabinet Committee on Orang Asal?


PUTRAJAYA: A group representing the Orang Asal has questioned the sincerity of the government in dealing with land rights matters related to the community.

What has happened, the Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), asked, to the Cabinet Committee for the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was set up to address, monitor and implement the findings of a government task force in 2015.

The task force was established in September 2013 to review the findings of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) Report on the National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples dated July 19, 2013.

The task force consisted of ministries, Federal and State government agencies, and civil society experts.

JOAS Secretary-General Jannie Lasimbang said Tuesday the Cabinet Committee was formed on June 13, 2015.

“We question the sincerity of the government because we received no further news on the Cabinet Committee and the report of the Task Force has not been released officially,” she said.

JOAS handed over a memorandum outlining issues and demands related to Orang Asal lands, territories and resources, to the office of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low on Tuesday.

The memorandum called on the government to be transparent about the progress of the Cabinet Committee on the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The memorandum was drafted after consulting with Orang Asal across Malaysia when they met over the last four days to commemorate the International Day of Indigenous Peoples which falls on Aug 9 every year.

Lasimbang said: “We handed the memorandum to Paul Low as the minister’s office has said that it remained committed and will play a key role in the Cabinet Committee.”

The Cabinet Committee was led by former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyidin Yassin before Prime Minister Najib Razak removed him from the Cabinet.

Key points of the memorandum referred to the Suhakam National Inquiry on Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The report which came out in 2013 has been endorsed fully by JOAS.

The memorandum resonates with the Global Call on Action for #LandRightsNow, a campaign which puts land rights at the centre of sustainable development and climate change.

The campaign, which is supported by over 500 organisations around the world, including JOAS, started Tuesday.