Govt mulls comprehensive development plan for Orang Asli

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail says it is important for all parties to understand the Orang Asli community’s way of life. (Bernama pic)

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The government is studying the need to draw up a comprehensive development plan for the Orang Asli to bring progress to the community.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she would bring the matter to the rural and regional development ministry and the National Unity and Integration Department for further discussion.

She said this was in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples which encouraged governments to involve indigenous people in development projects and to provide guidance on the protection of tribal people.

“The new federal government is very concerned and wish to engage the Orang Asli in the flow of development at state or federal level,” she said at a discussion with the Cameron Highlands Orang Asli community at the Sungai Ruil Orang Asli village here today.

Wan Azizah said it was important for all parties to understand the pribumi community’s way of life and to find common areas to strengthen cooperation and brotherhood to help the community more effectively.

She also urged the Pahang government to gazette Orang Asli reserve land to ensure they did not lose their settlement and source of income to development.

“Development, cultivation, intrusion and grabbing customary land have created conflict and caused Orang Asli to lose their homes and forest resources for their livelihood,” she said.

Another issue was customary land, which is a challenge for the government to develop and improve the community’s socio-economic standards as they were close to the land and their ecological environment.

Wan Azizah urged the Orang Asli to look after the sustainability of the environment, which was one of the tourist attractions, and continue to generate income for them.

She said the government had mounted several operations to prevent intrusion of land and forest.

“We want to restore and ensure the sustainability of Cameron Highlands as a tourist destination and as such we need to look after the economic welfare of the Orang Asli,” she said.