Orang Asli Dept role for Sabah?
NABAWAN: The role of the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA), which has successfully developed the Orang Asli community in Peninsular Malaysia, will be reviewed and extended to Sabah. Rural and Regional Development Minister, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib, said his Ministry might consider extending the role of the department to Sabah if there is a request for it. Speaking to reporters after launching the Mesra Rakyat Programme with the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, organised by Kemas, at Kampung Murni, near here, Sunday, he said Pensiangan would be a priority area as far as development was concerned (Daily Express, 06.10.08).
Orang Asli Dept for Sabah, you're kidding right?
Let's talk about it with a little bit of openness and honesty, for the goodness sake of the state.
Jabatan hal ehwal orang asli (JHEOA) may be successful in peninsula. But easy to claim that it is successfull when in reality, JHEOA is the only department in Malaysia with the sole purpose of dealing with orang asli affairs. It may or may not succesfull at all.
This is because, if Jabatan Orang Asli is so successful, why there are many complaints about it?
Read critics about JHEOA and orang asli wellbeing here, here, here, and here.
Among the most prominents critics is right on JHEOA core role itself. It seems to propagates malaynization or even Umnonization process more than to really bring about true progress and development to orang asli community. I have no grudge on Islamization of orang asli, though, as most were animists prior their conversion to Islam. But apart from Islam, many natives in Sabah are christians now, and the same approach of malaynization and Islamization may not quite applicable here.
There is another reservation, correct me if I'm wrong here. In the eyes of many mainstream malays in peninsula, orang aslis fall into proto-malay category. Right, they too, are bumis. But, they always in a lower status in comparison to 'proper' malays. This isn't stated anywhere in our constitution, it is all about sentiment and stigma. Malays never equalize themselves with Jah Hut, Jakun, Mah Meri or Senoi for that matter.
Some of you may not understand this; so let's use 'downgrade' and 'upgrade' term. Malays never equalize themselves with orang asli down to the level of jakuns, negritos, semangs, etc.. Just go and check around with any KLites malays if you don't believe me. It is considered as a downgrade, if not blasphemy.
Or, if you are a good sprinter, go to any bus stops in peninsular Malaysia and say “woi jakun” or “woi senoi” clearly to any available [and healthy] malay youths there; and see if they're happy to give you a good chase in a bright sunny day or not.
Only and only if jakuns, negritos, semangs etc, are fully adopt to everything malays that they will be considered as equal to standard malays. In this situation, we call it as an upgrade. But those jakuns actually pay quite a price in the process. They have to give away their orang asli identity. At the end of upgrade process, they aren't orang asli anymore; they became full -pledge malay.
Having this in mind, will the JHEOA thing in Sabah is also about bringing upgrades similar to the to mainstream peninsula malays and orang asli?
If its so, then somebody happens to look down upon us, much in the same level with orang asli of peninsula; and wanna upgrade us shortly - this is bad!
Now that the minister toys with the jabatan orang asli idea, I am curious to know how government go about this.
Who are the orang asli of Sabah, the way 'orang pandai' government in peninsula sees it, in the downgrade and upgrade terms?
First of course, JHEOA will have to identified who are the orang asli in Sabah. Right here, we don't have jakuns, semais, senois, semangs, negritos, jah hut, orang seletar and the like.
But, out of 30 ethnics in Sabah, the only significant non-orang asli group of sabah is fullblooded Sabahan chinese, and this jabatan orang asli definitely not for them.
The rest are orang aslis - if the term orang aslis refer to aborigines. And if orang aslis refer to bumiputeras more Sabahans can claim that they are orang asli too. Those likely claimants will be Sabahans of filipino descents, Sabahan bugis and even those half-blooded Sabahan chinese, in the category of 'sino-native'.
Based on the above classification, around 80% of Sabahans actually are the ORANG ASLIs. Just imagine how big the jabatan orang asli (Sabah's branch ) will be. It virtually caters majority of Sabahans. It will be the biggest department with offices in every district in the state.
Then we will be talking about huge allocation and overlapping functions with all existing departments in the state. It will eat up a big chunk of federal financial allocation too. In the name of allocation for Sabah, a big portion of development money for Sabah will goes for orang asli department. It is a huge statewide business, make no mistake about it.
But this sound familiar isn't it? It will close to becomes another JPPS, while the existing JPPS now comfortably hiding under the new 'SDO' name. Yes, JPPS the monster still 'alive n kicking'. Some friends told me only the name changes so far, the functions are still very much intake. Now, another monster department in the name of orang asli is in the making, I have little doubt about it, if the JHEOA idea materialized here.
Having this kind of skeptical mind, I think enough is enough. If government is sincere in helping Sabahans, please, just increase the fund and let the existing departments in the state manage them.
Probably it isn't intended to cater 80% of Sabah population afterall. If the existing jabatan orang asli in peninsular stays as a model, it may not going to include all orang aslis in Sabah, government may be specify the target groups based on area where they live on. For example, orang asli in Nabawan and Sepulut areas may qualified; orang asli in Dongongon and Putatan may not. Kadayans in Banting (Sipitang) may qualified too, but Kadayans in Maraba (Beaufort) and Kelanahan (Papar) may not.
However, since the segregation is based on area rather than ethnicity in nature, then even chinese who live in the interior region are qualified isn't it? This way, we shouldn't call them jabatan orang asli but rather ;jabatan pedalaman / luar bandar.
And why can't we expand the rural department by adopting some JHEOA concepts, which is a lot more easier than to import the whole departments?
To conclude with,Tan Sri Muhamad; I sincerely urge that you have a second thought before shoot up your mind next time. If you can't think at all, then keep your mouth shut.
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