(Tapah, Sunday): After 44 years, the time has come for the government to appoint orang aslis to the post of Director-General and State Directors of the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA).
It is shocking that for over four decades, the government has not been able to appoint an orang asli as Director-General of JHEOA. What is even more shocking is that no orang aslis have been appointed to be state directors of the JHEOA.
This reflects the failure of the government to uplift the orang aslis despite the establishment of the JHEOA since 1954.
The orang aslis community, comprising some 92,000 people, is a very deprived socio-economic group and should receive the fullest attention of the government to ensure that they are beneficiaries rather than victims of the process of development.
However, if after 44 years, the government is still unable to appoint an orang asli to be Director-General and State Directors of JHEOA, it is no surprise that the orang aslis continue to be a deprived community, with their aspirations for land rights and socio-economic upliftment largely ignored.
There should be a conscious policy in the country to appoint orang aslis to all levels of government, starting with orang asli representation at the local government where there are orang asli settlements, reaching up to the national level, with orang aslis serving as Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Secretaries, Deputy Ministers and even Cabinet level.
The purpose of this DAP National Conference on Indigenous Peoples in Malaysia is to help bring the problems and concerns of orang aslis and other indigenous people in Sarawak and Sabah to broader national attention, so that they are regarded as Malaysian problems rather than as problems affecting only a small group of Malaysians.