KUALA LUMPUR, 20 Nov 2008: The Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Association (POASM) has no plans to seek foreign help in fighting for their rights as it is confident that the government can resolve their problems.
Its vice president Amri Jamil said the bureaucracy and political problems did not mean that the government was not helping the orang asli community.
“Although we are a minority, our contribution to the country cannot be dismissed,” he said at the National Orang Asli Conference After 50 Years of Merdeka here today.
This was because the orang asli community had sacrificed their villages for mega development projects like KLIA, Cyberjaya and dams.
Amri said the orang asli community believed that they were an important asset to the country and should be treated equally like the other races.
As such, the orang asli community want their views and welfare taken seriously before development projects that involve them could be implemented.
The association had sent a memorandum to defend orang asli rights in August 2005 but had yet to receive a reply.
They include formulating an Orang Asli Land Reserve Act aimed at strengthening their land claim.
Amri said it would be sending a follow-up memorandum to the Orang Asli National Advisory Council chaired by Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib soon.
Meanwhile, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) social and science development lecturer Wan Ahmad Amir Zal said the digital divide among the orang asli community was still wide.
This was down to the economic factor, lack of knowledge and skills and poor infrastructure.
“Generally, the orang asli community cannot afford computers although they are aware of the importance of information communication technology (ICT) to their progress,” he added.
Wan Ahmad said more effective efforts should be done to upgrade the economic level of the orang asli community so that they would not be left out from development. — Bernama