SLIM RIVER, 18 Nov 2008: The cabinet, in its meeting on 7 Nov, has agreed in principle to give land titles to the heads of Orang Asli households nationwide.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said each recipient would get between 0.8 and 2.4 ha for farming and at least 5,000 sq ft to build a house.
About 20,000 Orang Asli household heads would benefit from the policy, he told reporters after meeting the Orang Asli community in Kampung Sungai Teras, Kuala Slim, here today.
“The land alienated cannot be transferred to other people for 15 years and if a transfer takes place, it must be to another Orang Asli. The land also cannot be rented out, leased out, pawned or released by any other ways,” he said.
He said the policy was drafted after taking into consideration the views of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, state governments, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and Housing and Local Government Ministry.
It would be presented as soon as possible to the National Land Council for implementation next year, Muhammad said.
He said the policy covered two categories of land, namely the Orang Asli Reserves under Section 7 of the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 and land approved by state authorities but yet to be gazetted as Orang Asli Reserves under the Act.
To ensure effective implementation of the policy, the land for farming must first be developed by a government agency, private company or cooperative before the titles were issued, he said.
He said the farm land development would be carried out near Orang Asli settlements to encourage their participation and the land titles would be issued when it achieved the maturity period, which was five years for oil palm and seven years for rubber.
“Through the policy, the government is confident of being able to raise the living standard and socio economy of the Orang Asli, promote the wellbeing of their children and their women should a divorce occur and create a system to prevent illegal transfers of land,” Muhammad said.
He said the policy would bring big impact to the Orang Asli development as it could speed up the move to eradicate hardcore poverty among Orang Asli communities, make them feel responsible over their land assets and integrate them so that they would be able to compete with others.
It would also make easy efforts to provide complete infrastructure to Orang Asli settlements and avoid their land from being exploited by irresponsible people, he said. — Bernama