Activists: US report on Orang Asli land rights too shallow

Source: FMT News

Siti Kasim says Washington’s annual human rights report is an outdated view of Orang Asli land rights issue, adding that the report bases its argument on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law. Pic from FMT News.

Siti Kasim says Washington’s annual human rights report is an outdated view of Orang Asli land rights issue, adding that the report bases its argument on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Washington’s annual human rights report does not adequately address issues surrounding Orang Asli rights in the country, several Orang Asli activists have said.

Activist-cum-lawyer Siti Kasim pointed out that the US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 was too shallow as it merely interpreted the Orang Asli land rights issue in a “simplistic manner”.

“It’s partially correct if one were to solely focus on written law. But it’s an outdated view on Orang Asli land rights, based on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law,” she told FMT when contacted. Read more

Why the Orang Asli blockade in Kelantan matters

Source: The Malay Mail Online

A small group of 15 people gather outside the national headquarters of PAS on Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur tonight to express solidarity with the native Temiar people of Gua Musang, Kelantan, November 30, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

A small group of 15 people gather outside the national headquarters of PAS on Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur tonight to express solidarity with the native Temiar people of Gua Musang, Kelantan, November 30, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — For many within the Temiar Orang Asli community, the forest in Gua Musang, Kelantan represents much more than just a place to call home.

It is where they seek shelter, hunt for food as well bury their dead, and they have been doing so for centuries without any incident. In return, they do their part and abide by strict ceremonial customs to safeguard and preserve the forest as well as the creatures that live in it.

But all this is rapidly changing, due to the aggressive deforestation by developers and which is sanctioned by the PAS-led Kelantan government. Logging is the main source of income for the one of Malaysia’s poorest states, so it is unlikely that their position on the matter will change anytime soon.

A new documentary titled Fighting for My Home for Channel News Asia’s Get Real programme has shed some new insight into the matter, as the affected Temiar community speak up on why they continue to stand by their blockade efforts to save the forest.  [Admin.: The video links appear at the end of this post] Read more

Documentary maker: Kelantan Forestry offered to settle case with RM1k fine

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Over 200 Orang Asli had put up a blockade at the Balah Forest Reserve in Gua Musang since September 26 to prevent logs from being taken out from the area. — Bernama pic

Over 200 Orang Asli had put up a blockade at the Balah Forest Reserve in Gua Musang since September 26 to prevent logs from being taken out from the area. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, Feb 27 — The Kelantan Forestry Department offered to drop a case against two journalists if they agree to plead guilty and pay a RM1,000 fine, documentary maker Jules Rahman Ong claimed today.

Ong and his cameraman colleague Too Chee Hung were arrested last month by state forestry officers while shooting a documentary on the plight of Orang Asli villagers defending their homes in forest reserves in Gua Musang.

Speaking to reporters here, Ong said the offer was made last Friday.

He also said the Forestry Department’s investigative officer in charge of the duo’s case had informed them that the investigation papers on their case have yet to be sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

“(He) kind of persuaded us to just settle it out of court and pay the fine and plead guilty.

“In fact we told him if you have done your investigation and you are going to see the DPP, if that is the procedure, then go ahead,” he said, using the abbreviation for deputy public prosecutor.

He said the duo will not be paying the RM1,000 fine and will instead wait for the AGC to decided whether or not to press charges against them.

“To do that (pay the fine), I feel like I’ll be sending a message that it is ok for the government to curtail our rights to access of information. Read more

Orang asli seek Suhakam inquiry over encroachment

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The Temiar orang asli of Gua Musang have applied to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to conduct an enquiry into the Kelantan government over the encroachment of the contentious forest.

The Kelantan Network of Orang Asli Villages committee member Maya Bah Said said the move was aimed at stopping the encroachment into their customary land and the granting of temporary occupation licences and state leases to various companies, including loggers.

He said that the encroachments dating back to 2000 were now just metres away from their villages and polluting their water reserves.

The group also sought a moratorium on logging in the Balah forest reserve pending resolution of the enquiry. Read more

Suhakam, NGOs slam Kelantan’s latest clampdown on Orang Asli

Source: FMT News

Bersih 2.0 and many other NGOs slam the department over the arrest of several Orang Asli and journalists. Pic form FMT News.

Bersih 2.0 and many other NGOs slam the department over the arrest of several Orang Asli and journalists. Pic form FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Two NGOs joined the government’s human rights body today to take Kelantan authorities to task after Orang Asli and journalists were arrested at a blockade in Gua Musang.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) called for “legislative and administrative reforms” to define and protect the rights of the Orang Asli when it comes to their land and resources.

It also suggested that the National Forestry Act 1984 be reviewed.

“Despite clear evidence that the situation of the Orang Asli constitutes a serious derogation of Malaysia’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfil their rights, the government has done little to meaningfully address their situation, and the Orang Asli continue to lose more land and with it the enjoyment of related rights.” Read more

Ruckus again at Gua Musang Authorities break Temiar blockades, held journalists released

Source: The Star Online

Freed: Forest officers released Too (left) and Ong from the department’s office in Gua Musang. Pic form the Star Online.

Freed: Forest officers released Too (left) and Ong from the department’s office in Gua Musang. Pic from the Star Online.

PETALING JAYA: After a brief lull, the controversy surrounding the anti-logging blockades set up by the Temiar orang asli near Gua Musang has flared up again.

The latest direct confrontation between the opposing sides followed a major operation by the Kelantan Forestry Department, which dismantled two barricades in the Balah forest reserve – one in Simpang Petei on Monday and another in Matau Cawas near Pos Bihai yesterday.

At the Matau Cawas blockade, the department’s enforcement officers arrested two freelance journalists, Ong Ju Lim, 46, and Too Chee Hung, 36, as well as 16 orang asli.

The orang asli were later released at the blockade site while Ong and Too were taken to the department’s office in Gua Musang.

According to a statement from Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia, Ong had been engaged by the news agency to produce a documentary on deforestation in Kelantan. Read more

Loggers lose bid to tear down orang asli blockade

Source: The Star Online

Photo credit: Siti Kasim. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Photo credit: Siti Kasim. Pic taken from The Star Online.

PETALING JAYA: The Gua Musang magistrate’s court has rejected a logging company’s application to tear down the orang asli blockade there in what is a significant legal victory for the orang asli community protesting against logging there.

Lawyer Siti Kasim, who represented the orang asli said that the logging company, Jajaran Wawasan Enterprise, made an application under Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code over land in Pos Balar.

“The court rejected their application. The court believes that the orang asli are the ones with the rightful occupation and actual possession of the land,” said Siti.

Section 99 allows for the courts to declare a party to be entitled to retain possession of property, in this case the land, if there was a dispute over it by different parties in terms of who was in actual possession of it.

One party applies to be declared in actual possession while the other parties attempt to disprove their claim in court, after which the court makes its decision.

“Actual possession is when you are in occupation of the land. You are in control of the land. You live there,” explained Siti.

While this decision only applies to a portion of the land the orang asli are claiming in the Balah forest reserve, Siti said it set the precedent for the orang asli to use against the other logging companies operating there. Read more

So what’s that about human rights? — Boo Su-Lyn

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Boo Su-Lyn is a feminist who loves reading fiction. She tweets at @boosulyn. Pic from the MMO.

Boo Su-Lyn is a feminist who loves reading fiction. She tweets at @boosulyn. Pic from the MMO.

DECEMBER 30 ― This year has seen widespread human rights violations in Malaysia, including attacks on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, native rights, and the right to privacy.

The government appears to be increasingly intolerant of dissent and resorted to investigating trivial matters like the posting of “insulting” photos of leaders on WhatsApp, posting a video of a press conference, and various Facebook posts and tweets.

If Malaysia is serious about achieving developed nation status by 2020, then the government must acknowledge and respect basic human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Without the space to express ideas and opinions, society cannot progress.

These are the top 8 human rights violations in the country in 2016, in no particular order: Read more

Rights of the natives — Tricia Yeoh

Source: The Sun Daily

A group of Orang Asli block a road in Kampung Sungai Peralong, Gua Musang to protest against timber logging activities in the area on Oct 29, 2016. — Bernama

A group of Orang Asli block a road in Kampung Sungai Peralong, Gua Musang to protest against timber logging activities in the area on Oct 29, 2016. — Bernama

A VIDEO went viral at the end of November on social media, portraying the Temiar Orang Asli community singing Negaraku as the blockade they had set up to protest logging at a forest reserve in Gua Musang in September was destroyed. Several orang asli villagers were also detained as a result of the incident.

This particular action was ordered by the Kelantan State Forestry Department, while a representative of the Kelantan state government stated that all logging activities in Kelantan since 1978 had complied with the law and urged all parties to comply with set regulations.

The orang asli in Malaysia despite being natives and therefore technically part of the bumiputra community have, unfortunately, not quite benefited from the country’s affirmative action policies. A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2014 report revealed that almost 34% of orang asli households live in poverty, this despite official country figures that say 0.6% of the population live below the national poverty line. Why the disenfranchised community? Has the government not paid enough attention to their woes? Read more

Bar wants a stop to oppression against Temiar, Rohingyas

Source: FMT News

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. Pic taken from FMT News.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. Pic taken from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar, in reference to the Temiar in Gua Musang and Rohingyas in Myanmar, said repressive state action against marginalised communities must stop.

“The Bar stands with the Temiar and the Rohingyas in their efforts to seek protection of their fundamental human right to livelihood and life,” president Steven Thiru said.

In a statement issued this eveninig, he said the Bar would continue to work and advocate for a peaceful and just resolution of these conflicts.

Steven said the federal and Kelantan governments must immediately stop their actions to dispossess the Temiar of their ancestral land and to halt the arrests of Orang Asli.

During enforcement operations conducted on Nov 29, the Forestry Department dismantled and destroyed the blockades erected by the Orang Asli in a peaceful protest against encroachment.

Forty-seven Orang Asli were detained.

Steven said the Temiar had to defend their native customary lands from the ever-widening encroachment and from environmental degradation. Read more