Monday, November 25, 2013

Adopt Suhakam recommendations, S'wak told



 
S'WAK ASSEMBLY A lawmaker from Sarawak PKR made an impassioned plea at the state assembly last night to adopt the Suhakam (Human Rights Commission) report on the land rights and the welfare of the nation's indigenous people.
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Krian assemblyperson Ali Biju’s (right) plea came after a motion to adopt it had earlier been rejected by speaker Asfia Awang Nasar.

"Action is required and I ask, with all sincerity, that political differences and personal stakes be put aside so that we may take the necessary steps towards fulfilling our fiduciary and moral duties to our people, he said.

He stressed that the move was vital if "our native communities their culture and livelihood are to be protected." 

On Thursday, the Ba'Kelalan assemblyperson Baru Bian tried to move the motion to adopt the Suhakam report, but was rejected by the speaker citing several reasons for the rejection.

The speaker, however, advised the opposition to speak on the report during their debate speeches.

Addressing the assembly last night Ali said that Suhakam makes 18 critical recommendations under six main themes, namely:
  • Recognition of indigenous customary lands;
  • Remedy for loss of customary lands;
  • The need to address land development issues and imbalance;
  • Prevention of future loss of customary lands;
  • The need to address land administration issues and,
  • Recognition of land as central to the identity of Indigenous Peoples.
Report exposes systematic abuse

Suhakam is an independent body tasked to look into the long-standing and systemic injustices suffered by the native communities. 

From December 2010 to June 2012, Suhakam conducted a national inquiry into the land rights of Malaysia's indigenous peoples in response to numerous and persistent complaints it had received over many years from the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. 

NONENONEAli said that their landmark report, released on August 5, 2013, reveals systemic of lack of care, abuse, and inaction on the part of the government and its agencies in respect of the welfare and rights of the indigenous peoples. 

In Sarawak, the commission noted that the different definitions of NCR lands applied by the courts and the state authorities result in injustice to the natives, many of whose lands are being encroached upon by timber and plantation companies with licences and concessions granted by the government, he added. 

Other issues, he said, include problems with surveys, damage to native lands, lack of consultation, lack of or inadequate compensation. 

"The commission noted that there seems to be very few effective legal, administrative and political measures to protect and promote the natives' right to their land. 

"If we, as elected representatives of the people do not take this report seriously; if we do not even want to discuss the findings of the commission, if we do not put our minds and our hearts into taking steps to implement the recommendations, we will be failing in our duties and responsibilities to the people who sent us to this House," he said.

He also pointed out that the report contains many inconvenient truths and uncomfortable facts, but they must be faced and addressed. 

"We should not be sitting in these plush leather seats in this cool and grand Dewan engaging in mutual back patting and heaping praises on ourselves when our people are genuinely suffering in the rural areas." Ali said.

Rural people's socio-economic condition

On the socio-economic problems, Ali said that he was amazed by the many paradoxes and contradictions taking place before his eyes after sitting in the house for the last several days listening to points and issues raised by his colleagues.

He said that Sarawak produces the highest revenue compared with other states . For 2014, it is expected to contribute over RM70 billion from oil and gas only. `

But, they are debating a state budget of merely RM4.6 billion, he added.

Most of the members are requesting more allocations to upgrade basic infrastructure and amenities in their constituencies, he said.

"We request for bigger allocations to finance various projects from the federal government, but Sarawak has reserves of RM22 billion which is increasing year after year. 

"Please enlighten this august house, why it is considered prudent to keep such a large reserve when the basic needs of rakyat are yet to be fulfilled.

"We are told to be grateful and reminded of how lucky we are that we agreed to form the Malaysian Federation 50 years ago. 

"But, even a senior minister from the ruling party would like Sarawak's position in the Malaysian Federation to be reviewed and to ensure compliance with the original 18 points agreement, similar to the stand taken by Pakatan Rakyat.

dayak NCR land 220405 group"The native Dayaks are considered bumiputra, and entitled to privileges. But still the native Dayaks, who are being calledbangsa lain-lain by the federal agencies, are lagging in many fields be in it in business, civil service, education and even the most basic amenities like roads, electricity and water supply. 

"As said by another prominent Dayak leader, even the Indians get special allocation from the federal government - RM100 million for education and skills training, RM50 million for the betterment of their youth. 

"So, I just wonder - can the struggling Dayaks get the same in the future?" he asked, pointing out that the programme called ‘Bumiputra Economic Agenda' may be just like a mirage. 

"It will disappear the closer you get. Right now, there is no data which reflects the socio-economic standing of the Dayak community. No government agency seems to have any idea the percentage of national economy held by the community. 

"If we don't know where we stand right now, then how are we to go forward? Which direction shall we go? Are we lost?" Ali asked.

The ministers will address these questions from Monday.

~ Malaysiakini

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