Minister pledges to fix land issues affecting natives in Malaysia

Waytha striking a gong to signify the launch of the national level International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples celebration at Redeems Centre, Bau.

BAU, August 9: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy pledges to resolve land issues that has been plaguing the indigenous people in Malaysia for ages.

He said it had been unfortunate that many of the indigenous people in Malaysia had not been properly represented and are constantly bullied by developers or plantation tycoons who encroached onto their customary land.

Now that Malaysia is being helmed by a new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, he pledged to stop the bullying once and for all, and come up with amicable solutions between the developers and plantation tycoons, and the affected natives.

“As we know, they (indigenous people) have been struggling to defend their rights for a long time and they have not been treated fairly nor been properly represented to voice their concerns and suggestions for their development and wellbeing. But with the new government they are given assurance that we will do something to bring changes to their lives.

“Among the issues they forwarded to me are the encroachment of their customary land and this issue I have related to the state governments. Developers and plantations give excuses that they have been given authority by the state government to encroach into the customary land,” Moorthy said at a press conference, before officiating at the national level International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebration at the Reedems Centre near here this afternoon.

Waytha speaking to reporters before officiating at the National level International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebration at Redeems Centre, Bau.

The celebration was organised by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), consisting of representatives of indigenous people from Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.

One issue that shocked him was the incident in Bandar Muadzam Shah in Pahang, where the indigenous Orang Asli people there had not only their customary land encroached but also were issued eviction notices, as told by an Orang Asli representative during a closed door meeting earlier here.

“I will try my best to resolve this issue. Not only that, I also understand that many of the Orang Asli people, as well as indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, have issues where citizenship was not granted to them. Also some of their traditional marriages are not recognised by their state governments,” said Waytha.

He said he will report his findings to his cabinet colleagues and high ranking government officers in Putrajaya to discuss on how best to tackle all the issues affecting the indigenous people in the Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

He gave his assurance that he will be meeting the indigenous peoples’ representatives more often in the future as he had been mandated by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be in charge of the wellbeing of the indigenous people of Malaysia.

“I will discuss with my cabinet colleagues and high ranking government officers to hold more dialogue sessions with the indigenous people so that the new government can understand deeper the issues pertaining to them, and find amicable solutions to all the issues.

“I believe we will meet again and more often in the new government. I have been mandated by the Prime Minister to find out and come up with solutions for issues affecting the minorities in Malaysia, which includes the indigenous people,” said Waytha. — DayakDaily