DAP has urged Putrajaya to amend the Federal Constitution to make the Orang Asli ethnic group on par with Malays and other bumiputra in terms of constitutional privileges.
In a statement today, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said this would accord the Orang Asli community privileges in education, public service, scholarship, business and protected reserve land.
Although the Orang Asli are Malaysia’s “first and original bumiputra”, they have been marginalised and neglected since the country was formed, said Lim.
“They have been here for thousands of years, yet they were and are still being treated unfairly by the authorities.
“In terms of privileges, that no one is more deserving than the Orang Asli communities to be given such a special position,” said Lim.
Lim said DAP supports the special position of Malays and bumiputras while protecting the rights of other ethnic groups as enshrined under Artcile 153 of the Federal Constitution.
“This means we also want help to be extended to all communities who are in need. The special position is for the Bumiputeras who are in need, and not for the rich Umnoputras.
“It also means that the non-Malays who are backward and who need help must have access to the affirmative action programmes,” said Lim.
New deal for Orang Asli
Currently, the laws, policies and the Orang Asli Development Department (JAKAO) have not adequately address the needs for the community.
“Despite all these measures, Orang Asli are still treated with contempt and malice, as if they are strangers in their own land, as shown in the recent sad episode in Gua Musang in Kelantan where 47 Orang Asli were detained by police merely for erecting barriers to protect their land from loggers,” said Lim.
In view of this, Lim said there has to be a complete review of policies and laws aimed at bringing Orang Asli communities to the mainstream of national development.
“We need a New Deal for Orang Asli. For a start, we need an Orang Asli to head JAKOA - regardless of his or her religion, or political affiliation.
“It is an indictment on the failure of six decades of BN policies and programmes to uplift the Orang Asli communities that after nearly six decades of nationhood, the government is incapable of appointing an Orang Asli to head JAKOA,” said Lim.
He urged Putrajaya to appoint a Orang Asli as the JAKOA head before the 60th Merdeka Day celebration next year.- Mkini