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'The point is: are Orang Asli full citizens of M'sia?'

Lim Kit Siang  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS | Before I came on stage, I received a call telling me that the latest BN dirty tactic in the Cameron Highlands by-election is to accuse me of defaming the Orang Asli people by declaring that they are not citizens of the country.

I have never said that the Orang Asli, who are the first inhabitants of the country, are not citizens, but asked whether they are full citizens of Malaysia.

This seems to be such a stupid question for every Malaysian is a full citizen of Malaysia.

The question that demands an answer is how can anyone claim to be a full citizen of Malaysia when he or she is denied the most basic infrastructure - proper access road, clean water, electricity - and deprived of the most elementary needs - education, health and medical care, housing and economic opportunities - and most importantly, denied their traditional land rights.

It took me two hours to travel the 30km “roti canai” road to Pos Lenjang – when it could be travelled in 20 to 30 minutes. It was an unforgettable and most agonising journey on probably the longest and worst “roti canai” road not only in Cameron Highlands but the whole country, a road which served some 20 Orang Asli kampung.

Why hasn’t former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is the campaigner-in-chief of the BN in the by-election, visited Pos Lenjang and see for himself whether the Orang Asli in the area could claim to be full citizens of Malaysia with such atrocious infrastructure and lack of basic services for the Orang Asli?

If the Orang Asli are full citizens of Malaysia, then there is no need for a Special Department for the Development of Orang Asli (Jakoa) to bring them into the national mainstream of development.

After 60 years, is it acceptable for the conditions of the Orang Asli to be so pathetic and atrocious? In my visits to the various Orang Asli kampung, I asked whether Jakoa had achieved its mission and objectives, and the general view is that it had not achieved even 50 percent of its objectives in 60 years.

Yes, I congratulate the BN candidate, Ramli Mohd Nor, for having risen to the high level of an ASP in the police force, but is it more a testimony of failure and, not success, to make Orang Asli full citizens of Malaysia?

Why, after 60 years, is there only one ASP? Why is there not a single commissioner of police or even deputy commissioner of police among the Orang Asli?

What about the Orang Asli in the higher echelons of the other government departments?

After 60 years, Jakoa itself has only got an Orang Asli to be a director-general for eight months, when the position should have been held by an Orang Asli for the last few decades.

At present, less than 22 percent of the Jakoa staff are Orang Asli. This is not progress, but a failure of the mission of Jakoa.

In 2013, Suhakam released a report entitled 'Report of the National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples' and made recommendations, one of which was to conduct an “independent and comprehensive review” of the role of Jakoa to address its various weaknesses.

None of the Suhakam’s 18 recommendations to improve the plight of Orang Asli was implemented or considered.

The Cameron Highlands by-election has become not a battle between Pakatan Harapan candidate M Manogaran and BN candidate Ramli Mohd Nor, but between Manogaran and Najib.

Najib’s motive in the Cameron Highlands by-election is clear – to use a BN victory in Cameron Highlands as a launching pad for a national 'Save Najib' campaign, culminating in the next general election in 2023 for Najib to stage a political comeback and, like Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to become the prime minister for a second time.

If BN loses, then Najib’s political come-back plan will be reduced to ashes. Let the people of Cameron Highlands give this “coup de grace” to Najib tomorrow.


LIM KIT SIANG is Iskandar Puteri MP and DAP adviser.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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