1 August 2019
30 July 2019
Azumu would not be Perak MB without Orang Asli votes
LETTER | It is gravely concerning to hear when Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu (photo, above) said the term tanah adat (customary land) was not recognised in the state constitution and would be alarming if all races started to make such claims.
What is Orang Asli’s tanah adat? Does everyone have a right to tanah adat, as claimed by the Perak Mentri Besar?
For an Orang Asli to claim their rights to their tanah adat – according to the international standards and the common law in Malaysia – they have to show that they are members of an aboriginal society within the meaning of Aboriginal Peoples Act; there is continuous occupation of the land for generations; they are descendants of those who had resided on the land since “early times”; there is a traditional connection with the land that had been maintained from generations to generations.
On Sept 30 2015, the judge in Ipoh High Court, following important precedent-setting land rights cases in Selangor and Sarawak, ruled that the Orang Asli Semai of Kampung Senta in Bidor, Perak have the rights to their tanah adat (customary lands) under common law.
As a counter-suit, the Semais of Kampung Senta were fighting against the Perak state government and a private company.
Details of the case can be found here.
The grounds of judgement of the Kampung Senta case can be found here.
So, why can’t the Orang Asli, especially in Perak, claim that they have the rights to their tanah adat?
Clearly, as a statesman, Azumu shows zero knowledge on the development of recognition of Orang Asli’s right to their native customary lands by supreme courts in Malaysia.
Also, as an elected statesman for a “New Malaysia”, instead of showing integrity and respect for the rights of the Orang Asli, he continues to employ race-based political statements to warn about other races claiming tanah adat like the Orang Asli.
So, where is the “rule of law” that the new government has felt so strongly about?
Arrogance and ignorance – a dangerous combination for a state with so much diversity in terms of demography and natural environment.
The Mentri Besar is definitely leaving a bad name for Pakatan Harapan and the country for disrespecting the rights of the indigenous people as enshrined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – an international declaration agreed by Malaysia along with other countries at the UN in 2007.
Let us be reminded that the Mentri Besar had a narrow majority of 39 votes for the Chenderiang seat during the last election. Without the Orang Asli, Azumu would have failed to be the Mentri Besar of Perak.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
The court also noted that there was no credible challenge to these testimonies from the defence side. (See http://on.fb.me/1KQ2LJ8 for an earlier report on this.)
Background of the case
In 2010, the Semai of Kampung Senta found that representatives of a company, later found out to be Bionest Corporation Sdn Bhd (“Bionest”) had been encroaching on their land and challenged their rights to it.
On 3.9.2014, Bionest filed a suit against the Orang Asli, alleging that part of the Semai’s customary lands had been alienated to them and got the Court to issue an eviction order to the Semai.
In response, Kong Chee Wai and Bah Kana a/l Bah Ngah, in their personal and representative capacity for 142 other villagers, filed their own counter-suit.
They sought, amongst others, declarations that the said lands were Orang Asli customary lands and as such the same belonged to the Semai Peoples of Kampung Senta. They also asked that the part of the said lands that had been alienated to Bionest be returned to them.
Amongst other orders, the Court in fact declared that the said lands were in fact the Semai’s customary lands. Based on the ‘indicative map’ produced by the Semai, the area concerned is 2,209 hectares (5,460 acres).
The Court also found that the Government had failed in its fiduciary duty to gazette the lands concerned as an Orang Asli reserve and as such instructed the State Government to now measure and gazette the land as an Orang Asli reserve.
This includes the part of the customary lands which had been already been alienated to Bionest. Such lands are to be excised from the alienation and be gazetted as Orang Asli Reserve.
However, the pieces of land now worked by Chinese farmers (to grow guava and papaya) are to be excluded from the tanah adat as by allowing the Chinese farmers to work the land, on a pajak basis, before, and now without any contractual arrangement, meant that the Orang Asli plaintiffs have abandoned their claim (and rights) to that portion of the customary lands. (These lands total about 50 acres.)
The solicitor on record for this case was Amani Williams-Hunt (Bah Tony). Ably assisting him were Aaron Mathews, Darmain Segaran, Dr. Yogeswaran Subramaniam, all working pro bono from the Committee for Orang Asli Rights (COAR) of the Malaysian Bar Council.
This is the first case where the Semai community had taken their case to court and won. Other subgroups that have done so and won at the High Court stage include the Temuan, Orang Seletar and the Semelai. Other cases still pending involve the Temiar, Semaq Beri, Jakun and another two involving other Orang Seletar and Semai communities.
A set of photos was submitted to the Court as a Supplementary Appendix to the Expert Report. This was to help the Court visualise the situation and geography on the ground as a site visit was not on the cards. You can view these photos at: http://bit.ly/1VrxXDu
Below are some of the photos from the set:
Part of the settlement site as it is today.
The site of the old village is still forested which parts have been planted with oil palm.
Pieces of land now worked by Chinese farmers (to grow guava and papaya) are to be excluded from the tanah adat as by allowing the Chinese farmers to work the land, on a pajak basis, before, and now without any contractual arrangement, meant that the Orang Asli plaintiffs have abandoned their claim (and rights) to that portion of the customary lands.
No such thing as Orang Asli ancestor land in the state, Perak MB told NGOs
IPOH, July 29 — Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu today said that there is no such thing as ancestral land for Orang Asli under the state constitution.
Ahmad Faizal said that there is no specific land gazetted for any races in the state.
He said this when asked to comment on the recent media reports, which claims that the Rangkaian Pembangunan Kesinambungan Malaysia (Susden) and Minister in the Prime Minister Department P. Waytha Moorthy has urged all the state governments to show concern on the welfare of Orang Asli by recognising their ancestral land.
“As far as I know as a Mentri Besar and a Perakian, we don’t have ancestor land for Orang Asli here… this is very clear,” he told a press conference after attending the “Jasamu Dikenang” programme at the Meru Casuarina Hotel here.
“We have laws and constitutions that we need and are abiding too. But if a certain non-governmental organisation wanted to fight for the Orang Asli ancestor land… how if the other races also made similar demands?
“So in the end, do we need to divide the land and give to all the races? This will end in improper developments in the future, where it will not follow the government’s planning and it is really worrying,” he added.
Ahmad Faizal also said that the state government has no conflict with Orang Asli community, whose population is about 60,000, here.
“Our relationship with them is good. Only in certain areas there are some misunderstandings, for example, in Hulu Perak, a small group of Orang Asli created a blockade to avoid logging companies to enter their place.
“Issues in Orang Asli community vary from place to place. Therefore, groups which are championing the plight of Orang Asli in a certain area don’t generalise them as a whole as though representing the entire population. Don’t provoke any conflict among races,” he said.
Ahmad Faizal also urged the NGOs to approach the government on this matter instead of discussing it on social media.
“We are willing to listen to them and hear their suggestions, but don’t talk in social media that the government or royal families are not concerned about a particular race. This is not healthy and very dangerous,” he said.
6 February 2019
Perak govt has encroached onto our land, claim Orang Asli
PETALING JAYA: The Orang Asli community in Grik today claimed that the Perak government has encroached onto their land to carry out logging, barely a month after Putrajaya sued the Kelantan government for a similar alleged infraction.
Villagers from Kampung Tasik Cunex Grik have set up a blockade to prevent lorries from ferrying felled timber from entering the area.
On Feb 1, they lodged a police report on the matter.
They also claim the logging company and the Perak Forestry Department are threatening them.
Villagers claim the logging company brought in some machinery on Dec 19 last year and damaged pipes that supplied water to some 50 villagers in the Tasik Cunex area.
In early January, they said, they complained to the state government and the menteri besar about the matter only for it to fall on deaf ears.
A representative of the community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said when the illegal logging began, they ramped up their protest.
“We protested, and when we were ignored, we set up a blockade.
“On Jan 31, a spokesperson for the logging company and a representative of the Perak Forestry Department said they will not hesitate to employ rough tactics if we prevent them from logging,” the spokesperson told FMT.
Meanwhile, Petubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil called on the federal government to haul the Perak government to court.
“Don’t only sue Kelantan for destroying the lives of the Orang Asli,” she said, adding that logging was rampant in Perak.