Orang asli take to the streets to mark day for indigenous people

KENINGAU: Indigenous people from around Malaysia gathered on the streets here for a walk to mark International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Almost all of Malaysia’s indigenous ethnic groups were represented among the 350-strong crowd, who chanted slogans and sang anthems as they marched.

The procession started from the Oath Stone at the Keningau District Office and ended at the Keningau Diocese about 3km away.

The Oath Stone is a monument built to commemorate the terms under which Sabah, together with Sarawak, joined Malaya to form Malaysia.

“We decided to march as a symbolic show of our community’s struggle,” said Beverly Joeman, secretariat director of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), the organisers of the event.

“And to start the march from the Oath Stone makes it all the more meaningful.”

One of the terms inscribed on the Oath Stone guarantees that the traditional customs of Sabahans will be protected and respected. And, in turn, Sabahans will pledge their loyalty to the Government.

There was a festive mood throughout the march as police and Rela members helped direct traffic.

At the end of the march, a celebration was held at Keningau Diocese’s Solidarity Hall.

It featured cultural performances, traditional sports, traditional food, as well as the unveiling of three traditional knowledge-keepers representing the three regions of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

The knowledge-keepers are elders in their own villages and will now be tasked with preserving the customs and traditional knowledge of their respective regions.

The focus of this year’s celebration is the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a landmark document acknowledging the unique challenges indigenous peoples face while outlining how governments should treat indigenous communities.

International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on Aug 9 every year.

The Star’s R.AGE team was there to document the celebration in collaboration with the young members of the JOAS media team.

It will be releasing short videos on the R.AGE Facebook page ( over the coming weeks.

Source: The Star

Sabah to host national Indigenous Peoples Day celebration

Kota Kinabalu: Indigenous groups in the country will be celebrating the annual International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples next week amid many issues of violations of their rights.

Sabah will play host to this year’s national level celebration at Dewan Solidariti Keuskupan Keningau, carrying the theme “A Decade of Indigenous Peoples’ Struggles.”

This year’s celebration marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by the UN General Assembly. Malaysia is among 144 countries that voted in favour of the declaration.

As a signatory, the Government has the moral obligation to reinforce the rights and privileges of indigenous peoples as stated in the declaration.

But according to the event organiser, the Malaysian Indigenous Peoples Network (JOAS), indigenous communities in the country continue to see gaps between the contents of the declaration and government policies and their implementations.

The umbrella body made up of 87 indigenous grassroots organisations said in a statement that indigenous communities in the country still feel their rights as enshrined in the declaration are not being recognised.

It pointed out that encroachments into indigenous lands by private companies and government agencies in the three regions as among the major problems faced by communities.

It cited cases of land grabbing in the Orang Asli territories in Peninsular Malaysia by timber companies and the Federal Court ruling that the native custom of ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) and ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest reserve) had no force of law in Sarawak as among the recent developments which indigenous communities interpret as a violation of their rights.

It appealed to the Government to show more commitment in fulfilling their responsibility as a signatory of the declaration while at the same time asking to be given the chance to work together for the benefit of all indigenous peoples in the country.

Indigenous people make only 13 per cent of Malaysia’s total population of 31 million. – Leonard Alaza

Source: Daily Express