Minister hopes govt will recognise ‘religion’ of Orang Asli

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy (centre) takes part in the roundtable dialogue on Orang Asli and schooling today.

SUBANG JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy said he will be working with the government to formally recognise the traditional religion of the Orang Asli.

“I will have more discussions with the Orang Asli and bring the matter up to the government to formally recognise their religion, which is the religion of nature,” the de facto national unity and social wellbeing minister said.

He said there has been a misunderstanding that the Orang Asli do not have a religion, adding that Malaysians, including politicians, are generally ignorant of their beliefs.

“Their religion is the religion of spirituality. They have good moral values, they respect nature and nature is their religion.

“I think we should educate Malaysians, politicians included, that they do belong to a religion.

“I think that in time to come, their religion will be formally recognised,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a roundtable dialogue on Orang Asli and schooling.

He said, however, that it is a sensitive matter that needs to be addressed carefully.

Waytha also said that assimilation of the Orang Asli is not part of the government’s agenda.

RM100 million allocation for Indians

On a separate issue, he dismissed claims by P Ramasamy, the Penang deputy chief minister II, that he has not been transparent with a RM100 million budget allocation for the development of the Indian community.

He said the distribution of funds to different entities is displayed on the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) website.

“He (Ramasamy) is ignorant of certain facts, but it’s up to him. He can criticise.

“With the change of government, everybody is anxious that things happen immediately, but I am anxious for things to happen correctly,” he said.

In a statement, the DAP’s Ramasamy asked Waytha to explain what happened to the RM100 million allocated in Budget 2019 to help the Indian community.

“Apparently, the fund has been dispensed to various organisations but until today, there is no transparency.

“Wathya, who is supposed to present the information to the Elected Indian Representatives Council of PH (EIRCPH), has not done so despite being invited to provide the disclosure,” he said.

Waytha said he will be organising a meeting to update the council in two to three weeks’ time.