PETALING JAYA, 23 April 2009: The Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) commended the Selangor government’s decision to withdraw its Federal Court appeal in the Temuan land acquisition dispute yesterday.
In a statement today, JOAS president Adrian Lasimbang said the move is the “first step in recognising indigenous rights”, and showed that political will is key to upholding the rights of indigenous people.
The network praised the Selangor government for delivering on their election promise and seeking a collaborative relationship with Orang Asli communities in the state.
Lasimbang (Source: International Institute for
Sustainable Development) JOAS also congratulated Sagong Tasi and the Temuans for their victory in having one of the four defendants in the case withdrawing their appeal.
The other three defendants in the case are the federal government, United Engineers (M) Bhd (UEM), and the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA).
“With the withdrawal of the Selangor government, JOAS hopes that the other defendants will follow the logical course of action and similarly withdraw their appeal.
“By doing so, the federal government will reaffirm its support for the UN-DRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and show that support for indigenous peoples, who are also bumiputera, is not a partisan position,” said Lasimbang.
In 2007, Malaysia adopted DRIP, which recognises the historic injustices suffered by indigenous people worldwide and their rights to their lands, territories, and resources.
Sagong Tasi in 2005 (Pic courtesy of Suaram)
“Sagong Tasi and his people have spent eight years in court waiting for justice. Indigenous peoples throughout Malaysia spend similar years waiting for courts and governments to deliver similar justice.
“Some of the original claimants have died while waiting. This wait is taxing on our peoples, and further marginalises us and our right to self-determined development,” said Lasimbang.
Additionally, JOAS appealed to the Sabah and Sarawak governments to uphold the indigenous people’s rights that are enshrined in the state constitutions instead of limiting them to “push through a political vision that rewards only corporations and political cronies.”