Orang Asli proposals are doable, ‘they are not fantasies’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Rural Development and Orang Asli Empowerment Cluster has completed an engagement session attended by over 200 delegates, including from Sabah and Sarawak, to get feedback on the direction and new approach of the bumiputra agenda in preparation for the Bumiputra Economic Congress.

Attendees comprised academicians, representatives from NGOs and social enterprises, village chiefs including tok batins (Orang Asli village chiefs), Orang Asli Village Development and Security Committee members, and government agencies.

The cluster chairman, Datuk Seri Dr Md Alwi Che Ahmad, said the proposals being presented in the engagement session would be reviewed and submitted to the Economy Ministry before presented during the congress.

“This session was crucial as it provided insights from village chiefs, including tok batins and villagers. We collected all available data and compared them with the data from the Rural Development Ministry in Sabah and Sarawak,” he told Bernama after the session at a hotel here recently.

They discussed seven scopes at the session, namely community socioeconomic development, human capital development and education, infrastructure services and utilities, Orang Asli empowerment, entrepreneurship, leadership enhancement, and strengthening the roles of youth and women in rural areas.

Md Alwi said he hoped the proposals would be given attention and prioritised in the coming years to safeguard the welfare of the Orang Asli.

“This is to ensure that no more communities (of Orang Asli) are marginalised. Our proposals are achievable; they are not fantasies. What we want to do is what we can do; we want to move forward.

“In Sabah and Sarawak, the indigenous communities are still lagging behind. There are things we have to improve and really do, that is our priority,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported as saying that the congress will be held from Feb 29 to March 2 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre as an effort to establish a new direction and approach for the bumiputra agenda.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Rural and Regional Development Minister, said the congress was being organised on the instruction of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Cabinet, and would focus on 10 main clusters, including educational and human capital reforms, strengthening the halal industry, the economy of Sabah and Sarawak bumiputras, and the mastery of new technology.

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