Vidal Yudin Weil
A fortnight ago the Temerloh High Court in a suit filed in 2007 ordered portions of a Malay reserve land encroaching into Orang Asli customary land to be de-gazetted because the reserve land was subservient to Orang Asli rights as they were the earliest inhabitants preceding even that of the Malays.
No time frame was reported for the de-gazette exercise, but Justice Akhtar Tahir did direct the Pahang Land and Mines Office to gazette the Orang Asli customary land within a year.
The following questions beg for answers:
- Why didn’t the judge set a deadline against the government for the de-gazette exercise?
- Shouldn’t he do so in order to reverse the injustice done to the affected Orang Asli community for more than six years and still counting?
- Why was the government generously given up to a year to gazette the Orang Asli’s customary land?
- Doesn’t the legal maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” mean anything at all to him?
- Why were only costs of the court proceedings awarded to the victims but not punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages that they deserve when their native customary rights were willfully trampled on by the government?
Worthy of note, however, was what the learned judge was quoted as saying: “Their instinct to roam and live through the forest was inbuilt. Like fishermen, the Orang Asli’s instincts cannot be extinguished by providing them with better living.”
This is in fact one aspect our government has failed miserably: on the pretext of enhancing the livelihood of the indigenous people of Malaysia, were lands belonging to natives according to custom and tradition actually grabbed by inhumane government individuals in collusion with greedy corporate players to jointly enrich themselves at the expense of the victims?
Has our government confused itself between economic growth and that of economic development?
Doesn’t it know that the millions of indigenous people who are living in the forests of the Peninsula and Borneo have very distinct and traditional needs?
Three focal points
How come our government could not see that no amount of financial compensation or modern amenities can even come close to equate the losses suffered by these true natives due to forced eviction from their ancestral environments?
Does our government have any appreciation at all for the three focal points of liberty, subsistence, and self-confidence?
By taking away their ancestral land in Pahang, does the government not know that it has snatched away their freedom to roam in their comfort zone and wrecked their ability to meet basic survival needs?
Doesn’t the government realise that it has erased the self-confidence of these natives when they are forcefully evicted without proper consultation?
How can a government which claimed to care for the people not know the differences between internal and external institutions, authorised regulations and unofficial limitations; and the agonising process people go through in order to familiarise themselves in different environments?
For over 55 years now, doesn’t the government understand the harmful effects of destructive policies can have on society?
Why is it so intellectually challenged to foresee such disastrous consequences? How come the benchmark of our government is so near to the ground? How much longer can Malaysians continue to tolerate such reckless government? Are we really dumber than our government?
The writer is an ex-member of Sabah’s faded travel industry; loves food and speed, talks to all sides of the political divide, and blogs at http://legalandprudent.blogspot.com giving no quarters.