MIRI: About 30 social activist groups nationwide have issued a joint declaration urging political parties from both the ruling Government and Opposition parties to give more attention to resolve land right woes affecting indigenous communities.
The non-governmental bodies from Sarawak, Sabah and the peninsula held a dialogue here and issued the declaration on Monday (April 16).
They said the declaration will be forwarded to all political parties at the federal and state government levels.
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia president Yusri Ahon said at a press conference here that not enough has been done by the government at the national and state levels to comprehensively resolved the land issues of the natives.
"This problem is facing the indigenous natives of not just Sarawak, but also Sabah, and the peninsula states.
"All native communities are being plagued by unfair encroachment of their ancestral land by land development agencies from private companies and government agencies.
“In each region, there are hundreds of land disputes that have gone unresolved for years. We want the political parties to place the land rights of natives in their manifestos,” he said.
Among the groups at the dialogue were Save Sarawak Rivers, Borneo Resources Institute, Orang Asli groups and Sabah natives’ associations.
In the joint declaration, they said they want clearer policies to be spelled out by the political administration on confirmation of rights of natives over their ancestral land.
They also want a proper time-frame to settle cases of dispute between native settlements and land developers.
The NGOs also want legal recognition and acknowledgement at state and federal levels that ancestral land cannot be developed without prior consent of natives.
Yusri said the natives will meet with the political parties as soon as possible to submit their declaration.