PETALING JAYA: The long-awaited decision on indigenous land rights is finally out.
The Cabinet approved all 18 recommendations of a task force that looked into Suhakam's inquiry report on indigenous land rights, except for the setting up of the Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Paul Low said the Cabinet had on June 3 also approved the formation of a Cabinet Committee for the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples to address, monitor and implement the findings of the Government’s task force’s report dated Aug 14.
The Cabinet Committee will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin.
Low said that the functions of the Commission would be best served by the Committee for now.
"However, the task force would play a key role in this new Cabinet Committee," said Low in a press release on Tuesday.
Low set up the task force in September 2013, with government agencies and ministries, state agencies and also civil society experts who reviewed the findings of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) Report of the National Inquiry Into The Land Rights Of Indigenous Peoples dated July 19, 2013.
"The Cabinet Committee will be calling upon state governments for their cooperation in the interest of our national heritage, the orang asli and orang asal," said Low.
He said the setting up of the Cabinet Committee demonstrated the government’s commitment to the challenging issue.
The complex and numerous recommendations of the Suhakam Report – 51 in all – were digested by the task force and put into phases and time frames of within a year to three years.
The list of 18 main headings for the 51 recommendations were:
1. Land Tenure Security
2. Clarification of Customary Cultural Right of Tenure
3. The Return (restitution) for the Rights of Indigenous Lands Which Are Not Recognized
4. Mechanisms of Justice (Redress Mechanisms)
5. Addressing Policy and Planning
6. Review of Compensation
7. Applying Human Rights Based Approach for Legal Development and Free and Prior Informed Consent
8. Ensure Land Development Does Not Adversely Affect Indigenous Peoples
9. Promoting Successful Development Models
10. Policies Which Are Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable Development
11. Measures for the Settlement of Indigenous Peoples
12. Recognition of Rights of Indigenous Persons in Protected Areas
13. Encourage Active Participation of Indigenous Persons in Forest Management
14. Establish a Comprehensive Review of JAKOA
15. Enhance Capacity of Land Departments
16. Reviewing the Response to Land Issues
17. The implementation of the Immediate Improvement Measures
18. Establish the Independent National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.