CAMERON HIGHLANDS (Bernama): The government is studying the need to create a comprehensive development plan for Orang Asli as an effort to bring progress to the community, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She said she would be bringing the matter to the Rural and Regional Development Ministry and the National Unity and Integration Department for further discussion.
She said the matter was in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples which encouraged governments to involve indigenous people in development projects, apart from providing guidance on the protection of tribal people.
“The new federal government is very concerned and wishes to engage Orang Asli in the flow of development at the state or federal level,” she said at a session with the Cameron Highlands Orang Asli community at Sungai Ruil Orang Asli village here Thursday.
Dr Wan Azizah said it is important for all parties to understand the Orang Asli way of life and at the same time find common areas to strengthen further cooperation as well as brotherhood to help the community more effectively.
Apart from that, the Deputy Prime Minister also urged the Pahang state government to gazette Orang Asli reserve land as an effort to ensure they did not lose their settlement and source of income to development.
“Development, cultivation, intrusion and grabbing customary land have created conflict and caused Orang Asli to lose their homes and forest resources for their livelihood,” she said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said another issue is customary land which is a challenge to the government to develop and improve the socio-economic standard of Orang Asli as the community is very close to the land and their ecological environment.
Dr Wan Azizah added that she wants Orang Asli to look after the sustainability of the environment, which is a tourist attraction and which can continue to generate income for them.
She said the government had mounted several operations to prevent intrusion of land and forests.
“We want to restore and ensure the sustainability of Cameron Highlands as a tourist destination and as such we need to look after the economic welfare of the Orang Asli,” she said. – Bernama