NGO to Maik: Respect Orang Asli people’s belief

NGO to Maik: Respect Orang Asli people’s belief

PUCHONG: Back off from the Orang Asli people and let them practise their beliefs in peace, said Pusat Komas, a human rights NGO.

In a statement, the NGO slammed the Kelantan Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (Maik) for its ambitious plan to convert all Orang Asli people in the state to Islam by 2049.

“Don’t take advantage of the Orang Asli people’s vulnerability.

‘If you really want to do something for them, then provide them with proper healthcare, education and security. That is your responsibility now.

“No point calling yourself as the ‘Corridor of Mecca’ if you can’t even provide basic necessities to your own people, even if they are non-Muslims,” reads the statement.

Last week, Maik told Utusan Online that it plans to convert all Orang Asli people in the state to Islam within 30 years’ time.

Maik deputy chairman Nik Mohd Azlan Abd Hadie said that currently, there are about 100 preachers from Maik and the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) working on the proselytization mission, which covers offering aid and education to the community.

“If we can convert 500 of them to Islam within a year, God willing, all Orang Asli people in the state will be Islamised in 30 years.

“We are planning for a comprehensive proselytization process with the help of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,” Azlan was reported saying.

Maik’s plan received brickbats from human rights activists and NGOs, urging the state government to respect the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion for all Malaysians.

Orang Asli Development Organisation (Jakoa) director general Juli Edo even warned Maik not take advantage of the Orang Asli community’s vulnerability and trick them into converting.

Backing Juli’s statement, Pusat Komas said that the Orang Asli community have practised animism for thousands of years and their closeness to nature have rendered them to become ‘Guardians of the Realm.”

“This unique relationship they have with nature enables them to live off the land. They rely on nature for medicine, food and shelter.

“We cannot deny the role they play in protecting the flora and fauna that exists in the forests.

“However, mainstream religions look down on Orang Asli’s belief and call them pagans,” reads the statement.

The NGO then urged the Kelantan state government to respect Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees security to all Malaysian irrespective of their background.

“We suggest for the Kelantan state government to respect Orang Asli’s right to their land so that their health and wellbeing are not affected again,” said Pusat Komas.

At least 15 Orang Asli people of the Batek community have died from measles outbreak since last month, angering the public who claimed that the government had neglected their wellbeing.

Maik entered the foray and claimed that 13 of them are Muslims, before proceeding to bury all of them in one grave, under Muslim rites.

By G Vinod

GLOBAL AGRITECH SUMMIT