Federal govt looks into plight of Sabah’s sea gypsies

The Pala’u community of sea gypsies are also known as Bajau Laut. (Bernama pic)

LAHAD DATU: The Federal Government through the National Security Council has taken into consideration the plight of the stateless Pala’u (sea gypsies) who had come to regard Lahad Datu as their home.

District officer Dr Mohammad Ayub Yaacob said to this end, the state government had proposed three committees with the council as chair.

“The first committee was on census. Recently, a census conducted with the cooperation of the district office, Eastern Sabah Security Command and Statistics Department found that there are about 1,200 Pala’u in Lahad Datu,” he told reporters here today.

He said the second committee which concerned identification for the community is under the Native Affairs office and Research (Chief Minister’s Department).

The third committee, he said, related to settlement of the Pala’u community.

Mohammad Ayub said Pulau Sakar in Lahad Datu could possibly be a pilot project for the settlement.

“The Pala’u could be a tourism product for the district,” he said, adding the matter had to be discussed with Tungku assemblyman Assafal P Alian, who is also state Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister.

He said community could potentially be settled via the approach taken for the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia.