Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Sabah natives different
Unlike Orang Asli, indigenous Sabahans better developed and not left out: Masidi


The suggestion that the role of Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHOEA) reflects some of the Federal leaders’ lack of awareness and understanding of the situation of natives in the State, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun. “If we compare the Sabah natives with Orang Ash in Peninsular Malaysia, there is a special department for them since it is perceived that the Orang Asli in Peninsular are being left out,” he said. “However, the Bumis in the State are not being left out and this is why the notion is not suitable for the State because what is good for the Peninsular is not necessarily good for Sabah,” he added. Masidi said the development of Bumis in the State which comprises various ethnic groups is at the level where the role of JHOEA is not needed. “What we do need from the Federal Government is to do more construction of infrastructure in rural areas, such as roads and many more,” he said. He added that even though there are still many poor people in the State, the Bumis are overall making good achievement. * While conceding that the motive for the suggestion is good, Masidi said it cannot be implemented in the State since it is conceived by leaders who did not fully understand the Sabah natives’ situation. Masidi, who was speaking to reporters after launching the 8th Borneo TENS 2008 at Le Meridien here yesterday, said he told the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently during a dialogue that what is needed in Sabah is more roads in rural areas. The Bumis in rural areas are producing agricultural products but many are facing problems in taking their products to nearby towns due to a lack of proper roads, he said. Meanwhile, Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said the Ministry has no intention of extending the JHOEA to Sabah to look after the interests of the Sabah natives. He said it would only consider extending the privileges accorded to the Orang Asli in the Peninsular to deserving natives in Sabah and Sarawak. “There is a bit of confusion on the suggestion by Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib on the matter,” he said. “Only the privileges of the Orang Asli in the Peninsula will be extended to Sabah and Sarawak, if need be. That’s what he meant,” he told Bernama, here yesterday. Muhammad was quoted by a local newspaper as saying on Sunday in Nabawan, about 140km from here, that his ministry might consider extending the role of the department to Sabah if there was a request for it. Kurup, who is Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah President, said the JHOEA had been quite successful in uplifting the standard of living of the Orang Asli community in Peninsular Malaysia. “We have a large number of natives who are living widely scattered villages, especially in the remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak. “Their way of life is more or less the same as that of the Orang Asli. So, they too deserved to be accorded with special attention from the Government just like the Orang Asli in the peninsula. “That’s why the Ministry plans to extend the privileges given to the Orang Ash to the natives of both states, and it could be put under the supervision of a special department to be established based on the local situation and needs, but not the Orang Asli Affairs Department,” he said. On Monday, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the position of the Sabah natives must be viewed in a proper perspectives as they formed a majority of the State’s population. As such, it was wrong to equate the Sabah natives with the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia, said Pairin, adding that the Sabah natives comprised various ethnic groups and religious backgrounds, besides occupying premier positions in the State’s political hierarchy and civil service.