DAP calls for
the appointment of an Orang Asli as Deputy Minister to be responsible for
the reform of JHEOA to lift up the Orang Asli to the level of other
- during the debate on the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, 2005 Budget
by Lim Kit Siang
(Dewan Rakyat, Thursday): It is outrageous and scandalous that close to half a century of Merdeka, the Orang Aslis in the country remain the poorest and most marginalized in all aspects, whether education, health, economic or political status.
In May this year, after his Cabinet appointment, the Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Aziz Shamsuddin announced that a comprehensive plan of action would be unveiled to eradicate the poverty and uplift the Orang Asli, declaring that he was “committed to bringing them up to the same level as the other communities”.
Where is this comprehensive plan to give a new deal to the Orang Asli half-a-century after independent nationhood to bring the Orang Asli into the mainstream of national development?
The question must be asked as to who are the real beneficiaries of a Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) in the past half-century, whether the JHEOA bureaucrats or the ordinary Orang Asli people? If it is the latter, then why is it that up to now, no Orang Asli had ever been appointed not only to the post of Director-General but also as State Directors of JHEOA?
The government must demonstrate its real commitment and political will to uplift the Orang Asli community from being the poorest, most backward and marginalized community in the country, starting by ensuring that at least half of the State Directors of JHEOA are from the Orang Asli when Malaysia celebrates the half-century anniversary of our independent nationhood.
DAP calls on the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to appoint an Orang Asli as a Deputy Minister in this Ministry to be responsible for the reform of JHEOA to lift up the Orang Asli to the level of other communities, to ensure that there is greater Orang Asli control and involvement in the programmes and future of JHEOA.
In view of the abysmal progress achieved by JHEOA and the Ministry to uplift the Orang Asli community in the past half-century, the government should prepare a White Paper for presentation in Parliament to pinpoint the failures and outline the ambitious plans to chart the educational, socio-economic and political advancement of the Orang Asli in the new millennium.
Seven years ago, a National Conference on the Indigeous People in Malaysia was held in Tapah which passed 18 resolutions to bring the Orang Asli and the indigenous people of Malaysia into the mainstream of national development and not be the victims, but these resolutions had been ignored by the Ministry.
The Ministry should revisit these 18 resolutions adopted by this Conference, which was organized among others by Persatuan Orang-Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (POASM), in particular the following:
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman