KOTA BARU: The orang asli community called on the authorities to recognise the existence of native customary land in Kelantan before embarking on elaborate economic plans to uplift their socio-economic status.
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli chief Mustafa Along said they were not willing to sacrifice their age-old tradition for short-term monetary gain.
“To maintain our customs and tradition, we need the jungle. It is the source of our spiritual wealth.
“We will only be betraying our ancestors if we sacrificed our customary land for material gain,” he said.
Mustafa said this when asked to comment on the midterm review of the 11th Malaysian Plan to empower minority communities including orang asli.
“We hope the authorities would complete the gazetting of orang asli land before embarking on massive projects to boost the economy.
“And please engage with us before implementing any programme.
“For example, two acres of land in Kuala Betis have been allocated to each household to plant oil palm while some opted to plant rubber trees.
“But at the same time, this has shrunk our native customary land as loggers, miners and plantation operators are allowed to destroy our jungles for the benefit of a handful of people,” he said.
Mustafa said they would support sustainable economic plans such as eco-tourism.
“At least this way we get to keep our jungles while earning our keep,” he said.
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