No Orang Asli ancestral land? Perak MB should’ve asked legal advisor first, says Ramkarpal

Jerry Choong
Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Tiang in Cameron Highlands. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu ought to have sought the advice of his state legal advisor before declaring there is no ancestral land for Orang Asli in Perak, said Ramkarpal Singh today.

The DAP national legal bureau chairman said Ahmad Faizal’s remarks of the state constitution not recognising customary land is shocking, and reflects ignorance on his part over such matters.

“There can be no doubt that the Orang Asli have both common law and statutory proprietary rights in the Aborigines Peoples Act 1954, protected by the Federal Constitution which mandates for proper compensation to be made to those with such rights who are evicted from their land,” said the Bukit Gelugor MP in a statement.

Ramkarpal added that common law and established case law have recognised the customary title of the Orang Asli, and they may well have customary title of a permanent nature entitling them to adequate compensation should they be evicted from their land.

“It has also been recognised that state governments have a fiduciary duty to gazette areas which are known to be occupied by the Orang Asli since time immemorial to protect their rights thereon.

“Failure to do so can result in legal recourse against the said governments. Ahmad Faizal’s statement gives the impression that the Orang Asli in Perak have no proprietary rights and that the state government is not interested in protecting their welfare which is completely contrary to Pakatan’s manifesto before the 14th general election,” he said.

Ramkarpal also urged the mentri besar to take steps in improving the welfare of the Orang Asli in Perak, and that it is certainly wrong to not recognise customary land which is a misperception he ought to correct sooner rather than later.

Yesterday Ahmad Faizal, in denying the existence of Orang Asli customary lands in Perak, said that if an NGO claims the need to fight for indigenous customary land, one could potentially expect the same demands from other ethnocultural groups including the Mandaling Malays or the Javanese.

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