The government versus the indigenous people - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, July 22, 2019
It's happening in Perak too................
Malaysiakini : “We don’t call them elephants. To us, they are known as Atok or
Orang Besar, because they lived in and roamed this forest longer than we
have." – Ramli (Temiar villager)
| Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P Waythamoorthy's call
for the police to release three Temiar Orang Asli after a clash with
loggers is welcomed, but ultimately this means very little for natives
who have been on the receiving end of the malfeasance of the state for
decades. If you go to the Facebook page of the Centre for Orang
Asli Concerns (COAC) and read about the events that led up to the
arrests, you will understand what these marginalised people are up
talk of these “loggers” as a shadowy threat, but the reality is that
behind these loggers are corporate entities with deep ties to the ruling
establishment. This is why these loggers are confident that the state
security apparatus will be on their side when the chips are down.
is wonderful that the three Orang Asli men were freed, but does anyone
really believe the police when they claim that they were taken to record
their statements? Were the people supporting the loggers taken to
record their statements too? Of course not. Because if someone like Waythaymoorthy (below)
did not draw attention to their plight, they would have spent more time
being illegally detained, instead of being released to rebuild the
blockade. In this instance, the political apparatus helped these Orang
Asli, which makes it more of an aberration than a norm.
incident report posted by the COAC points to a self-described “toughie”
named Afiq, who has been responsible for the on-the-ground operations
since late last year. You would have met these types before.
For instance, when the Seafield temple “riots” broke out, there were
references to outsourced toughs under the employ of corporate interests
to do the dirty work of removing obstacles.
Remember when the
state security apparatus had to backpedal on the narrative that
“Indians” had caused the trouble? Deputy inspector-general of police
Noor Rashid Ibrahim claimed: “Perhaps the party which wanted to take
over (the land) hired a group of Malay men to facilitate
the process of taking the land. There is a possibility those (hired)
were gangsters and for sure, the group of Indians tried to defend (the
temple against the incursion).
“I have to explain this
because it has become a sensitive issue and I don't want any quarter to
take advantage. This is not related to a racial clash.” This is
the way things are done when corporate and political power trample on
the rights of citizens. Therefore, when politicians are aghast at the
environmental destruction caused by “unscrupulous” business practices,
you have to ask who enabled these people in the first place? When you
read about rivers contaminated or illegal dumping of chemical waste, do
not for one moment think all this happens in a vacuum. How would
you react if someone like Afiq had the state security apparatus backing
him, while you, a taxpaying citizen, were hauled up for defending your
COAC coordinator Colin Nicholas (above) claimed, “the loggers were bold because of alleged support by the Perak state government and that logging had also been hastily approved for the neighbouring Pos Piah area.” This
is probably true because people who commit illegal acts, especially
against marginalised communities, do so, normally, under the protection
of powerful bureaucrats who shield them from legal repercussions.
should discover why logging permits are secret. Why was there no
consultation done with the villagers before the permits were issued? What
is the state executive council doing on behalf of the villagers to
ensure that their rights are protected, and not the commercial interest
of the loggers who have no qualms about relying on the state to further
marginalise the Orang Asli?
People are often amazed at the
institutional corruption perpetrated by the Umno regime, but what does
it say about the system under Harapan when logging permits are “rahsia” (secret)? Let me guess. Harapan politicians are going to blame the former Umno regime, right? When
minions of the state claim that all is in accordance with standard
operating procedure, and the Orang Asli are handcuffed and deprived of
their liberty, what does this tell you about the promise of a New
When you have the menteri besar of Perak - in the Cunex blockade (below)
- implying that the natives fighting for their rights are encroachers,
you understand the kind of systemic injustice the Orang Asli communities
menteri besar also claimed that weapons brought by the authorities were
for their personal safety and not to intimidate the Orang Asli. Who do
you think is more of a threat? The Orang Asli or the loggers who have
the backing of the state security apparatus and the political apparatus?
does the state get away with this? All you have to do is head over to
the Facebook page of the COAC, for example, or the other numerous NGOs
that attempt to shine a light on these travesties. There you will
discover communities in Malaysia that are cut off from the privileges of
the urban elite. You will discover why it is easy for the
state, with its foundation being racial and religious politics, to abuse
communities where there is no spotlight to draw attention to
governmental and corporate malfeasance.
You will discover a way of
life that is open to abuse by minions of the state for profit and
religion. Someone once said to me, many years ago, that you could do
anything with these people and the majority of Malaysians would not know
and most probably would not care. Can you imagine if you were
part of this community? No fancy news portals to vent your frustration
with the government of the day. Your family not safe from the state
security apparatus, which could take on you at any time. The women in
your community fall prey to the apparatchiks of the state that would
forcibly give them contraceptive injections, or the children of your
community become the prey of loggers who could commit rape and other
types of sexual exploitation.
Who could forget about the state
converting you without your knowledge or permission? Literacy is not a
life skill these people rely on, which makes them easy prey for the
bureaucracy and corporations to manipulate and subjugate them through
As an Orang Asli activist once said to me, New Malaysia, what’s that, boss?