Kit Siang calls for ‘new deal’ on Orang Asli
KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Constitution should be amended to put the Orang Asli on par with the Natives (Orang Asal) of Sabah and Sarawak and the Malays in the peninsula, says DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang.
“The Orang Asli should enjoy the constitutional privileges meant for them,” said Lim who is also Gelang Patah MP.
“These include stakes in education, public service, scholarships, and business. Their reserved land should also be protected.”
In calling for a “new deal” for the Orang Asli, he said the time to act was now.
For a start, he said, an Orang Asli should head the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa).
He considered it an indictment on the six decades of Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) policies and programmes to uplift the Orang Asli communities. After nearly six decades, he lamented, the government was incapable of appointing an Orang Asli to head Jakoa.
He said the DAP would continue to support the special position of the Malays, Orang Asal and Orang Asli as enshrined in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and also the legitimate interests of others.
“This means we want help for all communities which are in need,” he said.
He pointed out the special position was for those who were in need, and not for rich Umno-putras. It also meant that non-Malays who needed help would have access to affirmative action programmes, he said.
The peninsula’s first people – the Orang Asli – have been neglected since Merdeka in 1957, nearly 60 years ago, he said.
No one was more deserving than the Orang Asli communities for a special position as they had been here for thousands of years, said Lim, adding that they were however still treated with contempt and malice as if they were strangers in their own land
“This was shown in the recent episode in Gua Musang in Kelantan where 47 Orang Asli were detained by police merely for erecting barriers to protect their land.”
In 2010, there were 178,197 Orang Asli in the peninsula.
It high time to give bumiputra status to the Orang Asli. After all they were the first to be here even though they not civilized in the beginning.