JOHOR BARU, April 5 — The Johor state government today clarified that the issue surrounding Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar’s proposal that all Orang Asli settlements and reserves in the state are placed under the “sultanate land” classification is an effort to better protect them from being manipulated by unscrupulous parties.
Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi hopes that no parties will attempt to dispute and confuse the Orang Asli in this matter.
“Please do not hide and twist the noble intentions of the state government.
“If any party needs clarification and more detailed information, they can contact the Johor Orang Asli Development Department,” he said in a statement today.
He was defending the proposal to gazette the state’s Orang Asli land as “sultanate land” that has received criticism from several quarters, alleging that it was a personal move by the Johor monarch to acquire state land.
Onn Hafiz explained that any area that has been gazetted as “sultanate land” does not mean that the land will be the personal property of Sultan Ibrahim, but that the land is protected by him so that no party takes advantage or abuses the reserve land.
“Your Majesty is the custodian of this reserve land to continue to protect the rights and interests of the Orang Asli in Johor and they in turn can use and enjoy the forest products as stipulated in the Orang Asli Act 1954.
“History has proven that since the reign of the late Sultan Abu Bakar and before the existence of the Orang Asli Act 1954, the position and settlement of the Orang Asli in Johor has been protected and defended by the Sultanate of Johor,” he said.
Onn Hafiz said the state government has detected acts of exploitation against the Orang Asli in the state by irresponsible parties for personal gain.
He said that among the exploitations that were detected was the illegal exploration of Orang Asli reserve lands in Johor that were developed for commercial purposes.
“Orang Asli people were also used as guides to hunt wildlife protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
“There are also Orang Asli used to illegally extradite forest products such as sandalwood and valuable minerals,” he said.
In this regard, Onn Hafiz said the state government was very concerned about the exploitation done by these irresponsible parties to the Orang Asli in Johor.
“I would like to remind all parties that we have laws that will continue to be used to protect them and among the laws used are the Orang Asli Act 1954 (Act 134), the Sultanate Land Enactment 1932, National Land Code, Johor Land Code 1966 and Wildlife Conservation Act 2010,” he said.
On March 25, Sultan Ibrahim proposed on a Facebook post that the Orang Asli land in the state be made “sultanate land”.
He said this would ensure better protection of the land.
Sultan Ibrahim claimed that some of the Orang Asli in the state are being exploited by irresponsible quarters to encroach into their land to carry out illegal activities.