Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Suhakam poised to table report on native land

K Pragalath

July 10, 2013
It is supposed to provide feedback in the drafting of controversial amendments to the Aboriginal People's Act
PETALING JAYA: Suhakam’s Orang Asal  Land National Inquiry Report will be tabled during the current parliament session.
It is a document much awaited by the Orang Asli community, whose representatives have expressed strong opposition to the government’s proposal to amend the 1954 Aboriginal People’s Act, which they said was aimed at enabling state agencies to take over native land.
Suhakam’s report, which is the result of nearly two years of nationwide consultation with the Orang Asli and other interested parties, is supposed to provide feedback to those who are drafting the amendments.
“The report will be tabled during the current session and we will release it to the state legislators and the public,” Suhakam deputy chairperson Khaw Lake Tee told FMT today.
Last October, Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal said that the bill to amend the 1954 act would be tabled during the current parliamentary session. He said Putrajaya would consult with state governments, NGOs and Suhakam in drafting the amendments.
Last month, he told the media that his ministry was in the final stages of preparing the bill.
“We are pouring over the changes,” he said. “We’re in the final stages. The ministry, Suhakam and the Orang Asli will discuss the areas to be improved upon.
“I am seeking the cooperation of the state governments regardless of whether they are under Barisan Nasional or the opposition so that we can resolve the matter without politicising it.”
However, Khaw said today that the ministry had yet to meet Suhakam.
“We will be having a meeting with the ministry soon,” she said. “We haven’t seen the amendments also.”
Last week FMT reported that the community would lose about 645,000 hectares of native land if Parliament were to pass the proposed amendments.

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