IPOH: The Orang Asli in Perak are hoping the state government will formally declare their right to their “tanah adat” or ancestral land, says Gabungan Balei Sengik Sen’oi representative Dahil Yok Chopil.
He said that there has been no response from the Perak government even though five memorandums have been sent to the state government on this issue since 2003, including the latest which was sent to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad on Thursday (Nov 25).
“It is our hope that Saarani will pay attention to this matter and declare the ancestral land according to the map we provided,” he told reporters at the State Assembly building here after submitting the memorandum.
In 2019, former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said that there is no such thing as “tanah adat” in the state and that the term was not recognised in the state constitution.
Faizal added that it would be worrisome if all races started to make claims wanting “tanah adat”.
Dahil, who is also the Tok Batin or village head from Kampung Chang Sungai Gepai near Bidor said many of the Orang Asli’s ancestral lands have been seized from them.
“We have been using the land for nearly 13 generations. We have lived there with our family while planting our crops, but often, out of nowhere, there will be people telling us that the land doesn’t belong to us,” said Dahil.
“We are Malaysians, born and bred here. So why are we being treated this way? All we wanted is to have our ancestral land rightfully to ourselves,” he added.
Dahil said that without declaring the land as ancestral land, the Orang Asli community in the state wouldn’t be able to be progressive.
“How can we be progressive when everything we have is being taken away? We planted the crops, we stayed there for generations. We want the state government to declare our rights,” he said.