JPOAJ protest: Orang Asli village heads express regret, apologise to Johor Sultan

26 Jun 2023 08:54pm
Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar - Facebook
Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar - Facebook

JOHOR BAHRU - Several Orang Asli village heads (Tok Batin) today expressed their regret and apologise to the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar following a protest held by individuals from the community outside of the Johor Menteri Besar Office last month.

A representative of the village head of Kampung Orang Asli Kemidak, Hadi Baya, said the action of the Johor Network of Orang Asli Villages (JPOAJ) did not represent the entire Orang Asli community in the state, which is estimated to be 20,000 people.

"JPOAJ’s action is not part of our culture and it is feared that it will give a negative impression towards us among the people.

"We would also like to seek an audience with His Majesty to express our regret and ask for forgiveness as well as show our support to the Sultan who is always concerned about the welfare of the Orang Asli community in Johor," he said in a statement today.

According to him, his people will cooperate and support the state and federal governments in the efforts to develop the Orang Asli community in all aspects including education, social and economy.

Meanwhile, the Tok Batin from Kampung Orang Asli Berasau, Kluang, Sari Achu who was contacted today deemed the protest as ‘embarrassing’, urging JPOAJ to not taint the reputation of the Orang Asli.

Lim Abdul Rahman who is the Tok Batin of the Kangkar Senangar Orang Asli village in Batu Pahat said there were other ways for them to voice their views or dissatisfaction.

"We disagree (with the protest) that they claimed to represent all Orang Asli...we have never agreed with the action, so we feel ashamed," he said when contacted.

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On Friday, State Agriculture, Agro-Based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Datuk Zahari Sarip was quoted as saying that discussions regarding the status and proposal to gazette Orang Asli settlements and reserves under Sultanate Land needed to be done through roundtable discussions and not openly, as it is feared that some party might take advantage of the situation.

In March, the Johor Ruler expressed his disappointment over the discovery that some from the Orang Asli community had been illegally clearing forest reserves for large-scale rubber and oil palm cultivation.

His Majesty said he believed that outside parties were behind the matter and they were trying to take advantage by using Orang Asli rights as an excuse, thus he urged the government to put Orang Asli settlements and reserve land back under Sultanate Land ‘so that no party can act as they please’.

Following that, on May 8, more than 200 Orang Asli in the state gathered outside Dato Jaafar Muhammad Building in Kota Iskandar, Iskandar Puteri to hand in a memorandum protesting the suggestion. - BERNAMA