Orang Asli Affairs Dept not needed here, says Pairin
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin has shot down a suggestion to extend the role of the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHOEA) to Sabah. He said the position of Sabah natives or Anak Negeri should be viewed in the proper perspective as it is wrong to equate them with the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia. The Sabah natives form the majority of the State’s population and comprise people from various ethnic groups and religious backgrounds, apart from occupying premier positions in Sabah’s political hierarchy and the civil service, said Pairin yesterday. “Therefore the notion of requesting the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHOEA) to be extended to Sabah does not arise,” he said in response to a suggestion by Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib in Nabawan on Oct 5 that the role of JHOEA would be reviewed and extended to Sabah. Muhammad said JHOEA has successfully developed the Orang Ash community in Peninsular Malaysia. Pairin noted that the Sabah natives, being the majority of the State’s rural population, are the main target group of the Federal and State’s development programmes. “What is needed is the redoubling of efforts in achieving the optimum level of infrastructure development and eradication of poverty. There are enough State and Federal Departments and Agencies in Sabah to achieve the target,” he said. The State Government, he added, is confident that with the appropriate Federal financial allocation and empowerment of State Departments and Agencies, the goal of enhancing development in the rural areas, including total eradication of hardcore poverty, will be achieved by 2010.