Wednesday, 17 March 2010
MARCH 17 — The obvious starting point for Orang Asli empowerment would be their exercise of control over their customary lands, says Yogeswaran Subramaniam.
The recent policy granting land titles to the Orang Asli has far-reaching consequences for the 150,000-strong Orang Asli community. It appears to be limited in economic utility and, more importantly, in flat contradiction of the 1Malaysia concept.
In short, the proposed policy involves the granting of two to six acres of plantation lands and up to a quarter of an acre for housing to each Orang Asli head of household. The policy is subject to two main qualifications that impact upon its economic utility.
First, land forming part of this policy is subject to availability. This means that the land is not available as of right and depends on state discretion. If past records are anything to go by, the states’ performance for gazetting Orang Asli reserves has been nothing short of dismal.
Second, Orang Asli households would have to reimburse the appointed developer for all costs in relation to the development of the land from proceeds gained from the plantation. Other than the obvious room for abuse in the development process itself, Orang Asli would additionally have to start their ‘new’ life in the market economy under the burden of debt.
Sources also indicate that the estimated 50,000 hectares allocated under the proposed policy is well short of the 140,000 hectares of customary land currently occupied by the Orang Asli. Have we not taken enough of their land?
The policy does not recognise Orang Asli customary lands. To compound matters, Orang Asli who accept the deal will not be able to bring any claims to the courts for customary lands or loss of such lands.
Subject to further elaboration of the amending law, Orang Asli are left to either accept the policy where they lose their customary lands or chance their arm in court for recognition of their customary lands. If the latter course of action is taken, Orang Asli can expect the governments (except maybe for Selangor state) to contest such claims to the hilt.
The Orang Asli community is unique compared to other ethnic groups in Malaysia. Unlike other communities, Orang Asli culture, identity and nationhood is inextricably linked to their customary lands. Land is central to the identity of an Orang Asli person, providing, physical, cultural, economic and spiritual nourishment.
Top-down policies that change the face of Orang Asli land into plantations are devastating and traumatic to Orang Asli culture and identity. Ironically, the 1Malaysia concept regards ethnic diversity as an asset and explicitly rejects the concept of assimilation where ethnic identity vanishes.
If we can accept perceived outlandishness of cultures and practices of the three main ethnic groups in Peninsular Malaysia, it should not to be too difficult to ‘tolerate’ the unique relationship between Orang Asli and their lands. 1Malaysia demands that we do so.
It is thus puzzling that the proposed land policy disregards Orang Asli customary lands. Whilst it is true that economic independence is vital to Orang Asli well-being, it should not be toyed with at the expense of their identity.
The answer lies in empowerment, where Orang Asli, with technical assistance from all parties concerned, are empowered to determine their own priorities in their cultural, social, political and development. Experiences in Australia, Canada and United States have shown that there is a direct link between enabling an Aboriginal community to exercise control over its own affairs and improved social and economic outcomes.
The obvious starting point for such empowerment would be the exercise of control over Orang Asli customary lands. Unfortunately, this is not at all apparent from the proposed land policy. If diversity of culture is to be celebrated as an asset, it is time for the government to rethink the land policy. — www.aliran.com
* Yogeswaran Subramaniam, an Aliran member, is pursing a doctoral thesis in the Reform of Orang Asli Land rights at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or the newspaper. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) today expounded on weaknesses in the Malaysian economy, blaming it on the government’s dependency for pump priming measures, over reliance on petro dollars, the widening public-private investments
The Permatang Pauh MP told Parliament that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s optimism to say the “worst is over” was a stark contrast to the bleakness of the country’s present economic status.
The opposition leader pointed out that although the economy seemed on the mend in the fourth quarter of last year, Malaysia still continued to fall behind other nations in terms of competitive edge and attraction of foreign direct investments.
“At the same time, too much pre-occupation has been given to plans to upgrade the economy into a high value economy that we risk putting aside key economic issues concerning social justice; that should always take centre stage in any economic development agenda in Malaysia,” he told the House.
The former deputy prime minister also said that the government’s efforts to eradicate poverty had borne little fruit, and what was worse, figures from the UN Human Development Report in 2009 showed that Malaysia ranked 66 in terms of economic inequality, behind Singapore (ranked 23), Hong Kong (24), South Korea (26), Brunei (30) and Cuba (51), among others.
He said that despite the government’s incessant dependency on pump priming between the years of 2002 and 2004, the poverty rate still rose 12 per cent in the period.
“This should baffle everyone because this is a period of pump priming when a lot of state financial resources were diverted into the economy. Alas, only cronies and connected people benefit while the poor continued to suffer,” he said.
MORE TO COME
There are 15 million eligible voters in Malaysia.
There are only 11 million registered voters in Malaysia. (73%)
Last General Election (March 8, 2008), only 8 million voters exercised their votes. (73% of registered voters)
7 million voters, missing in action. (47% of eligible voters)
What the heck? The fate of this nation, the choice of who we want to run this country was decided by just a little more than 50% of all who have the duty to do so ? That is not even substantial or convincing majority!
Please, don’t be part of the 7 million apathetic, lazy, irresponsible citizen. Wait, if you don’t vote, please don’t consider yourself as a citizen of the country. You have no right to bitch or to complain when idiots like #yorais made it to the office, because of your (in)action.
To register as a voter, get your ass to the nearest Post Office, just bring your Identity Card. There is an initiative going on to register voters called EPIC for UNITY. So lend your support to do something EPIC!
The Flaccid Mind is proud to pimp this cool project by Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) -- BANGKIT!
Dear fellow Malaysians,
Are you happy with the state of our country today? Is our country and her people truly living up to their potential? What do you think of Malaysian society today? Should “race” be a major factor in how Malaysian citizens relate to each other? What unites Malaysians? What divides Malaysians? Do you think Malaysia needs to change? Why or why not? What are your dreams/aspirations for yourself? Your country?
Do you love Malaysia?
These are questions that are rarely asked of our country’s youths. But we believe that all of them have a burning answer deep within their hearts. They may not feel at liberty to share it. Or they may feel like even if they did, who would listen? So many of these hushed voices go unheard. It’s the greatest loss to our nation…
Well, not anymore.
We believe that the youth of our nation have outstanding opinions about the issues facing Malaysia today. And we want our nation’s youths to know that they are NOT forgotten, forsaken or frivolous. Because it is their passion that will revive the hope in our nation -- to once again rise up and be a shining example to the world for our peace and prosperity. And this will happen when the youth of our country choose to stand up and speak out.
That’s where BANGKIT comes in.
BANGKIT is a nationwide search for songs written by youths, for youths and representing the aspirations of the youths in our country. We believe that they deserve…no, they NEED to be heard. And we’re going to provide the platform for them in the language that speaks to youths -- music!
And to prove the point that Malaysians DO care about their country, we will be taking a huge step of faith -- because we want to put this entire project together with NO MONEY AT ALL!
No money for salaries or allowances
No money spent on promotions/marketing.
No money spent on design.
No money spent on recording.
No money to hire talents.
No money spent on websites.
No money prizes
No money for prizes.
Tak ada, mei you, eelek, zip nada!
Impossible? Maybe…unless you and I decide to believe that it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE. We can both step out in faith that this project WILL succeed because there will be more than enough people stepping up to contribute their time, talents, facilities and resources FOR FREE, with no other motivation than their passion, creativity and love for country!
Have we got your attention yet?
If you feel inspired to join us, here are the details of BANGKIT:
- A BANGKIT blog will be set up for this event
- Teasers will be spread throughout the internet (March 15 – 31)
- Selections begin, demo cuts of compositions to be submitted in mp3 format (April 1 – May 15)
- Songs will be featured on the BANGKIT blog for youths to vote on their favourites (April 1 – May 31)
- Professional judges will select 10 songs from the 20 most popular voted songs and results announced (June 7)
- A professionally recorded BANGKIT CD of the 10 selected songs will be released within 3 months of final selection (Target to be launched in September)
- A BANGKIT concert featuring local artistes will be held to showcase the selected songs (to be held either in November or December, in conjunction with SABM’s voter registration carnival)
- No prizes will be offered. Just recognition of participants’ talents and the chance for their song to be recorded.
- Primarily through the internet (facebook, youtube, twitter, blogs, websites, etc)
- Flyers and posters to be distributed to universities / colleges nationwide
- Exposure through the Mass Media
- Email, SMS & MMS
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Attach the ‘BANGKIT’ posters/banners/videos to your blog or website and make sure to link it to our blog. We will be releasing a series so that it keeps fresh and exciting
- Tell everyone you know about BANGKIT through word-of-mouth, blogs, facebook, twitter, email, SMS, MMS, etc. We need everyone in Malaysia to know.
- Keep updated at our BANGKIT blog or the SABM website.
- Put us in touch with people who are willing to contribute to BANGKIT’s cause for free.
Please support BANGKIT in our effort to bring the voices of our youth to the nation and the world!
P.S. As BANGKIT is still the pre-launch stage, please don’t reveal too much about us yet. If you feel a need to explain a bit more about BANGKIT, just say something like “something big is brewing in Malaysian cyberspace and everyone under-30 should watch out for the announcement on April 1st”. We will be releasing more promos and information that you can post as the official launch date (April 1) approaches.
If you need more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info please check out our blog at http://jombangkit.org/
And please do feel free to pass this message to as many people as you know.
Let’s rock Malaysian together!
Lai Chee Seng
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia -- Youth Outreach Project Team Coordinator
By Ding Jo-Ann
PETALING JAYA, 16 Mar 2010: An outspoken doctor has charged that her attempts to highlight the mismanagement of an Orang Asli hospital in Gombak were persistently undermined by the authorities.
Dr Selva (Courtesy of Bar Council) Dr Selva Vathany Kanapathi Pillai, who went public recently with serious allegations of cronyism and unprofessionalism in the hospital, alleged that she was constantly sidelined due to her outspokenness.
In one instance, Dr Selva claimed, hospital director Dr Saaiah Abdullah tried to exclude her from a meeting with the deputy health minister when he visited the hospital in September 2009.
"This was despite her earlier instructions for all unit heads to be present," Dr Selva, who was the hospital's outpatient department head, said in a phone interview.
"When I went to the meeting room, I was told [by Dr Saaiah's clerk] I need not attend because there were not enough chairs," Dr Selva told The Nut Graph.
"Only when I said I would ask the deputy minister myself why I was not included, did they say I could attend."
Dr Selva said the deputy minister had appointed her to join the ministry's focus group on rural health after she voiced her concerns on Orang Asli health.
But, she said, further problems developed. According to Dr Selva, there was a focus group meeting in Kelantan in October 2009. She claimed that the hospital director told her to wait at the hospital for a car to take them to the meeting. But the car never arrived.
"I flew to Kota Baru at my own cost the next day and rented a car to drive to Gua Musang [for the meeting]," Dr Selva said.
Two months later, Dr Selva, who has worked at the hospital since March 2009, was transferred by the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA), which runs the hospital, to Sungai Siput in Perak.
"There's no pharmacy, laboratory or medical assistants at Sungai Siput. It's just a transit point. Patients are treated at a nearby hospital," she said.
When she sought clarification from the Health Ministry, she found out she had, in fact, been promoted since September 2009 and a letter had been sent to Gombak Hospital.
"The hospital director had been hiding [my promotion] from me," she claimed.
Dr Selva asserted that Dr Saaiah wanted her out of the hospital before she found out about the promotion, which was backdated.
Shortly after these incidents, Dr Selva sent a complaint letter to, among others, the Health Ministry, on the alleged mismanagement in the hospital and the attempts to sideline her. The Health Ministry is currently investigating her allegations.
Click on image to view transfer letterDr Selva said that on 29 Jan 2010, she received a letter from the Health Ministry transferring her to Kedah, and out of JHEOA. "This was despite my last letter from the Health Ministry [announcing my promotion in December 2009], saying I was to continue serving JHEOA.
"No reasons were given for my transfer, except a letter from JHEOA to the ministry dated 17 Dec 2009 was mentioned. I have asked to see that letter, but [the ministry and the JHEOA] have not allowed me to do so."
The JHEOA, however, has denied involvement in Dr Selva's transfer, telling theSun in 25 Feb 2010 report that it was a Health Ministry directive.
Dr Selva gave an 11 Feb 2010 press conference at the Bar Council on the state of affairs at the hospital and started her Alor Setar, Kedah posting on 1 Mar 2010. When asked by theSun about her transfer to Alor Setar, the Health Ministry said it was done based on "needs for service" in Kedah.
When contacted and informed about Dr Selva's allegations, Dr Saaiah said," I am aware of Dr Selva's allegations. She has written a letter containing these complaints. My department and I have been in discussions with the Health Ministry and we're in the midst of preparing a response."
Dr Saaiah declined to elaborate pending the completion of the official process.