PETALING JAYA: Lawyer activist Siti Kasim advised ministers not to speak about matters they have no knowledge about, taking aim at International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed who said the standoff in Gua Musang involving the Orang Asli stemmed from their reluctance to recognise the law.
Siti said the authorities needed to take into account how the country was obligated to look after the rights of the Orang Asli under the Aboriginal People’s Act 1954 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
She added there were also several past cases which “proved time and time again” that the Orang Asli have rights on their ancestral lands.
“Don’t speak about something you don’t know anything about. If you don’t know, then you ask first, otherwise you end up looking stupid. We (lawyers) are always willing to help explain things to you,” she said.
In commenting on the blockades set up by the Orang Asli, Mustapa had said that Malaysia has the National Forest Policy to govern matters related to forestry.
Siti, however, shot back, questioning how Mustapa could not know about the country’s obligations to the Orang Asli.
“He should know that Malaysia signed the UNDRIP declaration! This is not something which you can just ignore.
“It just goes to show that our ministers and people you put up there as bosses are ignorant about the law. If they’re ignorant then it’s okay, but you find out (about issues) before you open your mouth.”