National agency for natives needed

Full attention: MPs listening to a JOAS briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

MIRI: A national commission on indigenous people must be set up fast in Putrajaya by the Federal Government to address current issues of concern affecting the natives living in the country.

Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Dewan Rakyat can establish a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) in order to set up this national commission.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) has recommended the setting up of this PSC in order to facilitate the establishment of the national commission. Its leaders last week held a meeting in the Parliament building with a group of MPs and discussed the idea.

JOAS secretary Sze Ning yesterday said this following the Suhakam national land inquiry recently.

“The inquiry found that the Federal Government needed to do more to address ongoing issues that are constantly affecting the native communities throughout the country,” she said.

“The natives in peninsula Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah are adversely affected by developnent projects all the time.

“The Federal Government needs to address these issues in detail and having a national commission specially for this would be useful.”

Among the issues raised by JOAS with the MPs were on the laws and customary tenures of the various indigenous communities, the issue of communal land titles and complaints from the natives of lack of consultation by state governments in development projects on land where the natives live on.

JOAS secretariat director Jannie Lasimbang provided the MPs with a comprehensive overview of the latest issues affecting the natives throughout Malaysia. Its women wing head, Fatimah Bah Sin, recommended a thorough review of all government agencies responsible for handling native affairs.

JOAS president Thomas Jalong spoke on the adverse effects of megadams on the natives in Sarawak, and other leaders told the MPs that JOAS had the relevant expertise and experience to work with the PSC to enable the national commission to be formed.

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