Sunday, June 7, 2009

Predicament of the Orang Asli

Augustine Anthony the well known Orang Asli Advocate invited me to join him to a mission to meet Orang Asli settlers whose land other issues which remains unresolved for decades. These are Orang Asli residing around the fringes of the jungle at Kampong Sungai Balik, Chenderiang.

Interestingly in the 2008 General Elections ,Chendering is the only state constituency which was won by the MCA in Perak and is represented by the assemblyman Dr. Mah. Dato Sarwanan the Deputy Minister of Federal Terrorties is the local MP.

When we reached Chenderiang, a local orang Asli jumped into our 4wheel to show us to the village. Just as we were about 1km we stopped to allow 2 passengers to join us in the trip. They were in their own car following us but decided to join in our car as the road condition just did not permit normal cars to go smoothly. The two were Mr. Ram the Bar Council rep for Orang Asli and a chambering student Grace Wong

On arrival at the village we were very warmly welcomed by the whole village residents numbering not more than 50 of them. We were immediately ushered into a completed brick house called houses for the hard core poor built by the Ministry of Rural Development. It was two room houses with basic necessities provided. Surprisingly the houses had no electricity connected although all the wires are done up nearly more than a year ago.

We were all invited to sit on the floor in the house where the adults and the children alike set around us to discuss their matters. The main matters raised were:

A lady in her 70’s complained that the village has been asked to be relocated more than 3 times in her memory by the land office because of their land has been alienated to others. Apparently lands were given for tin mining, agricultural activities, logging and oil palm cultivation. We were further told much of the oil palm area around the village use to be their ancestor burial ground.

A lot of petai, babi hutan(wild boar) and the like is freely available. But all these is dwindling due to logging. Even clean water is difficult to come by!

passed away last year. Since then a new Tok Batin has not been recognised yet by the Orang Asli Department (JHEOA) appointed. Although the villagers have elected one he has not been officially recognised.

he NGO’s and others present and a 2 hour discussion with the villagers. The Orang Asli’s request are just a fair call asking all not to intrude and destroy their life style. Infact the state should ensure and guarantee their continued right to live and co-habitat with the nature around them.

OnOn the issue of electricity, I saw a number of letters written by Dato Sarwanan to the electricity Department requesting the connection since July2008. I rang Dato Sarwanan and told him of the delay in the connection and he said he will see something is done the soonest possible. Also he will visit the village next week.

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