“Government policies pay scant attention to the long-term welfare of not only the Semai people but all indigenous people in the country. To them golf courses, housing development and theme parks are more important than the welfare of the original people of the land.”
Last week I put together a post about the Indigenous People of Malaysia, collectively referred to as the Orang Asli. Nearing the end, an article from Forbes titled Indigenous Tribe Hinders Malaysian Park was briefly mentioned.
IPS News just published another article about that particular development scheme, a 300 hectare botanical garden the government wishes to create — a gift to Prince Raja Nazrin Shah — nearly half of which would exist on Semai Land.
The article begins – One day in March, tractors and earthmovers suddenly appeared in their settlement near this town and began mowing down fruit trees and rubber plants the Semai people had planted for a livelihood.
“It was sudden and without any warning,” Tijah Yok Chopil, said a Semai woman talking in Malay during a meeting with IPS at their Kampung Chang village. “We were told to tally our trees, fruits and animals because all these had to make way for a new project.”
“Our people are rapidly being stressed-out and are falling sick. They get fever, stomach aches and cramps,” Tijah said. “These are the symptoms of our people when we feel threatened.”
“Falling sick is our way of protesting,” she told IPS.
Also see BOTANICAL PROJECT A NO GO Until Land Rights Assured – “We will not allow work on the project to start until the issue of our rights to the land has been resolved,” said Tijah Yok Chopil, who spoke on behalf of the 950-strong orang asli community.
“We are not against any development but please recognise our ancestral right to the land. We depend on the forest to live,” said the 39-year-old Tijah.
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