The increasing challenge of getting access to land and forest is proving to be a hindrance to the indigenous people in the country, who solely rely on such resources for their livelihood.
Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) president Thomas Jalong said it has always been the case as big parcels of land are given to big companies and developers for mega projects, at the expense of the communities who actually require land to source for their basic need.
“We see this very drastic and serious trend on the access of the indigenous communities to their lands, it has been happening over the years.
“It greatly affects the survival of these communities as land means much more to them in many other aspects, not only as a source of livelihood, but also closely related to their cultural, spiritual and even political aspect,” he told reporters during the launching of the indigenous people economic exhibition at Hongkod Koisaan building here, Saturday.
The event was part of a four-day programme to celebrate the Indigenous People’s Day, which is celebrated worldwide on Aug 9.
Earlier in his speech, Thomas said most of the indigenous people have their own customs or system in managing resources, but as they lose access to land and forced to move to new settlements, they will lose their means of livelihood which is traditionally dependent on land for agriculture.
He added the problem seems to be common amongst the communities, whether in Peninsular, Sabah or Sarawak.
“Even though the government gives compensation, you also need to ask who actually determine what kind of compensation is given, and whether these compensation can really replace what is lost,” he added.