The Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR)’s UndiMsia!’ Empowering Orang Asli Youths project concluded with the launch of an Adopt-the-Street activity on 15 March 2014 at Kampung Genting Peres (click here for more information). The launch was officiated by the Member of Parliament for Hulu Langat, YB Dr. Che Rosli bin Che Mat, Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) of Dusun Tua, YB Razaly bin Hasan, First Counsellor of the European Union Delegation to Malaysia, Mr. Marcel Roijen, Headman of Kampung Genting Peres, Tok Batin Umpu and the MCCHR. More than 100 villagers from Kampung Genting Peres, Kampung Paya Lebar and Kampung Donglai Baru attended the event.
Although the project had started since 2012, it wasn’t until June last year when it finally gained momentum for the simple reason that it took time to identify the target communities in Hulu Langat and subsequently develop relationships with them.
Throughout this time, the MCCHR had also consistently engaged the ADUN and civil society groups such as the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), Bar Council, Orang Asli Land Task Force of Selangor, Pusat Komas, Centre for Orang Asli Concern (COAC), Jaringan Orang Asli Semenanjung (JOAS), Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM), MySkills and Malaysiakini to name a few. These two entities were identified as the key stakeholders along with the target communities.
The overall two-year project has been designed to result in the rehabilitation of one public amenity at an orang asli village in Hulu Langat preceded by customised educational activities such as training workshops and dissemination of information materials in the form of posters and videos (all materials can be found at undimsia.com). The MCCHR with assistance from the European Union (EU), would provide a small grant for this rehabilitation activity. By achieving this end goal, it would show that consistent engagement between the key stakeholders can result in something that benefits a community. For UndiMsia!, this is one of the most basic forms of civic participation or community organisation.
The idea to rehabilitate a field in Kampung Orang Asli Genting Peres was first mooted at a “town hall” meeting with the ADUN by the villagers themselves. The villagers brought forward several issues that concerned them; land grabbing, flooding, lack of income and a safe place for youths to play were some of the key concerns. Some who were present at the meeting were particularly keen on planting rubber trees as a source of income generation. While this idea was initially considered by the MCCHR, the rehabilitation of a field was favoured in the end as there was reasonable concern that the supply of rubber seedlings would benefit only a few individuals, rather than the community as a whole.
Persistent engagement with the ADUN resulted favourably in a small contribution by the ADUN himself. At the same time, a private company had also came forward with financial assistance. Although these contributions have allowed the project to materialise, the total amount received to date is still insufficient to rehabilitate the field fully. The next phase of work requires the field to be covered with grass. The MCCHR is currently working on sourcing additional funds to complete the project.
During this time, the MCCHR has also managed to obtain cooperation from the Selangor State Orang Asli Land Task Force to commence land mapping exercise with the villagers. It is foreseen that the mapping exercise will conclude soon. Once completed, the map will be submitted to the Selangor State Land Office to be subsequently gazetted. The MCCHR has developed a poster for the orang asli to illustrate the importance of community mapping.
Since the launched of the Adopt-the-Street activity, the MCCHR has met with the key stakeholders to obtain their feedback on the project. The civil society groups unanimously agree that support for education must continue as it is key to ensure sustainability and agree to extend their support for UndiMsia!’s future project with the orang asli. Pusat Komas wants to see tighter cooperation between civil society groups working on indigenous issues to avoid the danger of duplicating scarce resources. It also urged the MCCHR to design advocacy-based project which has a national impact, rather than one which concentrates only on a selected target group.
Feedback from the target community seems to indicate a lack of ownership in the rehabilitated field. For example, since the launch of the Adopt-the-Street activity, the field has not been maintained by the villagers, particularly when a recent heavy downpour resulted in a minor landslide which has unfortunately affected the field. Although the Village Headman has reported his concern on this, it has been observed that the villagers are yet to take temporary measures to clear the landslide until a permanent solution is obtained. One of the solutions that have been suggested to instill greater ownership is to ensure active participation of the villagers in the second phase of the rehabilitation work. Instead of fully relying on paid workmen to plant the grass, the villagers will be encouraged to participate in the work as well.
Feedback received from the ADUN has by far been the most encouraging. He expressed gratitude to MCCHR for giving him an opportunity to work on a community project, one which has earned him brownie points with his counterpart from another constituency. According to the ADUN, the media coverage he received from the project (courtesy of Malaysiakini) has helped to increase his visibility greatly. With this, he pledged his continuous support for UndiMsia!’s project in Dusun Tua. This goes to prove again and again how important it is for stakeholders to see the benefits of a project before they become fully invested in a said project.
The MCCHR will continue with the second phase of the Adopt-the-Street activity in Kampung Genting Peres. At the same time, more efforts along the area of education will be given to the orang asli in Kampung Sungai Gabai. It is hoped that with the lessons learned in the past two years, the MCCHR will be able to carry out its work with the orang asli more effectively (click here for the lessons learned).
The MCCHR thanks the orang asli of Kampung Genting Peres, ADUN of Dusun Tua, the European Union (EU) and all relevant civil society organisations for their support and cooperation in this project. The MCCHR welcomes public donation to continue its work with the orang asli. If you wish to support this project, please email [email protected].