Bar: Perak MB wrong, Orang Asli can rightfully claim ancestral land

Malaysian Bar vice president Roger Chan Weng Keng (left) and president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Malaysian Bar vice president Roger Chan Weng Keng (left) and president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

IPOH, July 31 — The Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor explained today that the Orang Asli has the right to claim their ancestral lands based on the precedent court judgements, despite a contradictory remark by the Perak mentri besar.

Abdul Fareed said the Malaysian Federal Court and Court of Appeal have repeatedly recognised the continuity of the Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli’s right to land and recourses for more than 20 years.

“The recognition is held based on their own customs, usages and laws, provided that they have been in prior and continuous occupation, use and enjoyment of such lands and resources in accordance with their own traditions,” he said in statement.

Abdul Fareed said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s claims that the state constitution and written law must express sanction to the Orang Asli customary or ancestral land before they are legally recognised is legally wrong.

On Monday, Ahmad Faizal had said that there is no such thing as ancestral land for Orang Asli under the state constitution.

Ahmad Faizal also added that there is no specific land gazetted for any races in the state.

“Contrary to the justification provided by the Mentri Besar, such rights can be found to exist by the courts without formal recognition by the state executive and legislature due to the special constitutional and legal position of the Orang Asli,” said Abdul Fareed.

“It is also equally clear that these legal principles on Orang Asli customary land rights have been found to apply to the state of Perak,” he added.

Abdul Fareed also said that the Malaysian Bar reminds the Perak government to exercise due care and diligence when making public statements about the extent of the legal rights afforded to the Orang Asli.

He said that the Bar also reiterates its call upon the Perak government to honour its legal and fiduciary duty to protect Orang Asli lands.

“The government need to impose a temporary prohibition on the creation of any land and recourse and enforcement activities within areas claimed to be the Orang Asli’s customary area until a decision is made on the matter.

“They also should take appropriate measure, including legislative measures to achieve the spirit and intent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007),” he said.—

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