Parliament fears Orang Asli presence

Published: 20 October 2010

MP's Orang Asli guests barred from Parliament

19 October 2010

A group of indigenous people were prevented from entering the Parliament compound, even though they came as guests of Teluk Kemang MP Kamarul Baharin Abbas.

They were prevented from entering the building because police thought they were "protesters" attempting to hand a memorandum to lawmakers.

The group was turned away at 9am, but allowed into the compound at 10.15am, after it was clarified that they were neither protesters nor were they there to submit any document.

Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia Association vice-president Simpan Suda said a senior officer told them that police received information that a group of 300 Orang Asli were going to present a memorandum to Parliament today.

"When we came back, there were only 18 of us left because the others got scared. We are not here to hand over any memorandum, we are just visitors. We are not here to cause trouble," he said.

Earlier today, Kamarul (right) told reporters that his emergency motion for a debate to call for recognition of the Orang Asli as bumiputeras under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution was shot down by the Speaker's office. 

Special position

According to Kamarul, the motion was rejected on grounds that the topic had been discussed in the House before.

"The Orang Asli have been waiting to be recognised as bumiputeras... this issue has been on hold for too long," he told a press conference in the parliament lobby.

He said that in his motion, he had urged the government to explicitly state that Orang Asli are bumiputeras, so as to entitle them to the special position outlined for Malays in the Federal Constitution.

Dr Hatta Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai, left) pointed out that the status of the Orang Asli should be debated as the lack of clarity on their position and rights left them on the fringes of development.

"We respect the Speaker's view, but this should not be an outstanding issue after 53 years of independence.

"The government should accept the natives as bumiputeras, it is only natural and it should not be a problem," he said.