IPOH: The Perak state constitition does not provide for customary land (tanah adat) for any indigeneous or ethnic group, including the Orang Asli, according to the menteri besar, Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
Referring to criticisms about logging activities said to have been carried out in areas regarded by the Orang Asli as customary land, he said:
“If there is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that says that there is a need to fight for indigenous customary land then what if suddenly Mandailing Malays ask for the government to provide customary land for their people and the Javanese ask the same thing.
“This is alarming but for the time being the state government has maintained a view under the State Constitution that no land is recognised as customary land either for indigenous peoples, Malays, Chinese, Indians, or any other race.”
Ahmad Faizal said there was no conflict between the Perak government and the Orang Asli communities in the state but there were only concerns in Hulu Perak when Orang Asli were preventing logging activities that had been approved at the Air Chepam Forest Reserve in Gerik recently.
“There are problems in some areas including the provision of burial grounds and other issues but the government’s relationship with the people remains well.
“So I hope that those who want to champion some of the issues try not to involve the whole community with the government because this is very dangerous. Conflicts between these races are not healthy, we should not provoke any racial conflict,” he said.
Helping elderly people stay active
On a separate issue, Ahmad Faizal said the state government was working to secure an exchange of personnel between the cities of Ipoh and Fukuoka, Japan, to study programmes for senior citizens in the state.
He said Perak was the state with the oldest population, with 14.9% of the 2.5 million people who are senior citizens.
The state government intended to adapt a programme that began in Fukuoka where senior citizens could provide services and work or carry out other activities.
“They can work out, take care of the gardens, work in the nursery to read with the children or work a few hours a week with friends and so on. This will enable the people to live more actively, “he said.