If you’ve ever wondered what the Orang Asli really want, this video features a Temiar community spokesperson articulating in no uncertain terms the rights they are entitled to.
Here, Pak Chik Arong reads out the rights of the Orang Asli to a gathering of Temiar protesters, just before he and a dozen others were arrested (and later released). Video by Shafie Dris (also arrested eventually). Information source: Center for Orang Asli Concerns.
They want their native rights and customary land and access to the natural resources on it. They want to preserve their cultural identity, and not to be “assimilated”. They want their political rights and the freedom of expression. They want the right to information; they refuse to be exploited and cheated of their land anymore. They are upset that they have been reduced to abject poverty after fifty four years of Independence.
Can anything be clearer than that?
Now Kelantan may be desperate for funds, but chasing the Orang Asli off their traditional land in the name of the state’s Ladang Rakyat programme is not the way to go about it.
It is time to revisit Kelantan’s claim to oil royalties to provide the state with much-needed funds so that it doesn’t feel pressured to allow logging or the destruction of forests to raise funds.
Kelantan and Putrajaya have been embroiled in a legal tussle over royalty payments the state claims is due to it for oil wealth extracted by Petronas within its shores.
Kelantan is currently appealing a decision allowing the federal government to be named as an intervener in a legal suit the state brought against Petronas. It is also appealing for the case to be transferred to the New Commercial Court (NCC).