KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — Orang Asli seeking to enter politics are welcome to join the DAP, its parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said at a forum today.
He was responding to a question by an Orang Asli representative from Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) who asked a panel of opposition lawmakers whether the community needs a political party of its own to protect their rights in the same way the major ethnic groups do.
“Orang Asli should come to a political party and play role, not just in civil society.
“If they come to DAP, we will welcome them,” he said during the discussion titled “Malaysia Under the Shadow of Racial Politics: Where to Now?” during a forum by Pusat Komunimasi Masyarakat (Komas).
He added that the only requirement for those seeking to join DAP was their willingness to fight for the betterment of Malaysia.
“Malaysians regardless of who believe in the course of justice, freedom and good governance, you are always welcomed,” he said.
He reiterated that DAP has always been a multiracial party, despite its mainly Chinese membership, and pointed out some of its Malay members such as Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari and Syefura Othman, popularly known as Rara.
“We are becoming more inclusive, more open and we hope in the next few years to be able to emerge and to represent and to be seen as more multiracial and more Malaysian, same goes for Sabah and Sarawak,” he said, pointing to DAP charity initiative Impian Sabah and Impian Sarawak.
Despite their Bumiputera status, the Orang Asli community regularly complains of neglect by the authorities.
The Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) was recently criticised for allegedly marginalising the Orang Asli after the disappearance of seven native students in Kelantan led to claims that Orang Asli students were subject to poor treatment in schools.
One parent claimed the children were made to sleep on the cement floor and forced to wear dirty school uniforms.