PUTRAJAYA: Tok Batin Mohamad Nohing was a bunch of nerves as he stood at the rostrum to deliver a speech before Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“This is very special for me and the orang asli community.
“I have never even been to Putrajaya International Convention Centre, let alone speak in front of the Prime Minister,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Dr Mahathir smiled as he heard Mohamad’s admission.
The village head of Kampung Bukit Rok in Bera, Pahang, also drew laughter and support from the crowd when he asked the Prime Minister for special shirts for all the tok batin.
“Then you can easily identify us,” he reasoned.
Mohamad is hoping that the new government would help resolve their land issues.
“The previous government did not manage to do it and we are hoping this government can.
“Our ancestral land is all we have. It is where we find income to feed and raise our families.
“It is where we sustain our lives,” he said.
He said most of the 250,000 orang asli in the peninsula live in rural areas and fringes of villages and small towns and the government should develop these places so that the orang asli too could enjoy the benefits.