Waytha: Govt will consider Suhakam recommendations to improve lives of Orang Asli

Minister P Waytha Moorthy meeting Suhakam commissioners yesterday. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government will “seriously” look into the recommendations made in a report by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to uplift the livelihood of the Orang Asli community.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy, in a statement today, said he had given this assurance to Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail and several other commissioners at a meeting yesterday.

He said Suhakam’s views and suggestions will assist the government in formulating policies for the betterment of the Orang Asli community.

The statement added that Waytha, who is also the national unity and social wellbeing minister, was looking forward to Suhakam playing a strong role in advocating the rights of the indigenous community and other Malaysians.

At the meeting, Suhakam had updated the minister on its “Report on National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, published in 2013.

The report highlighted challenges facing the Orang Asli community, which included customary land rights and education, and their social impact on the indigenous people.

The Orang Asli have been fighting encroachment by logging companies in forests that the community had traditionally depended on for their living.

Earlier, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had announced that Putrajaya had filed a suit against the PAS-ruled Kelantan government over encroachments into Orang Asli settlements, the first such suit by the federal government involving native land rights.

It also wants an injunction to stop private companies from encroaching into native lands to carry out commercial activities.

Thomas said the Orang Asli rely heavily upon their ancestral land for economic and cultural sustenance.