KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Cameron Highlands MP Ramli Mohd Nor has called for the government to exempt the Orang Asli from all charges at public clinics, hospitals, and medical centres.
The Umno MP also said the Orang Asli Hospital in Gombak, Selangor, should prioritise the Orang Asli who need treatment for serious conditions.
“Cameron Highlands wishes to suggest to the government that all expenses, admission charges, specialist treatment, and medicines be given totally for free to patients from the Orang Asli community at all government health centres, hospitals or specialist hospitals, and clinics, without any charge for consultation, treatment, and registration,” Ramli said in his debate on the King’s Speech in Parliament last week.
The Orang Asli lawmaker also urged the government to improve infrastructure and basic necessities for the indigenous community, such as by building new roads and fixing old ones, many of which are more than 10 years old and have yet to be repaired, at all Orang Asli villages to connect them to the country’s main roads.
“Connectivity is an important component in whatever community development effort, including developing the Orang Asli community,” he said.
He also told the government to build public housing in Orang Asli villages, with a minimum of 1,000 sq ft per home, besides improving their current residences.
“If you look at the current situation, the current building structures are dilapidated and most of them are on the verge of ruin.
“We also shouldn’t forget that the government must prioritise sufficient supply of clean water and electricity for the Orang Asli community in this country,” he said.
Ramli called for thorough and continuous government assistance for Orang Asli students from preschool to tertiary levels, such as for food, transport, scholarships, school supplies, and entry to public universities, among others, without imposing “special conditions” on the aid.
He cited a report by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that found the Orang Asli faced difficulties in getting quality education, with Orang Asli children in certain places not going to school at all. Many of them also did not finish school.
Ramli stressed the protection of land rights for the Orang Asli in Malaysia, citing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as he complained about the lack of a specific clause in Malaysian legislation on the Orang Asli’s rights to their customary land.
He called for amendments to the National Land Code 1965 and the Aboriginal People’s Act 1954, besides creating an Orang Asli Land Enactment at the state level. These legislations should also have a “saving” clause to protect the indigenous from manipulation by irresponsible parties.
“I also suggest that the lands on which the Orang Asli are residing be gazetted, as per the Aboriginal People’s Act, as soon as possible and to prepare sufficient funding for various costs like measuring the land size, premiums, and gazettement that should be fully borne by the federal government.”
Ramli noted that although the government has spent millions each year through the relevant agencies for the Orang Asli, a wide gap in socioeconomic development remained between the indigenous people and mainstream society.
“Cameron Highlands hopes that the rights of the Orang Asli will be protected and that the Orang Asli community will be able to enjoy the same quality of life as other Malaysians.”