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One in every two Orang Asli under

poverty line
Patrick Lee
| April 20, 2011

Even with several hundred million ringgit allocated to them, the


indigenous people continue to live below the poverty line.

PETALING JAYA: Despite being of Bumiputera status, Malaysias


indigenous people continue to live in a state of neglect and despair,
according to the 2010 US State Department Human Rights Report
(Malaysia).
The report said that although indigenous tribes were granted
constitutional rights, these did not necessarily follow into practice.
Indigenous people in peninsular Malaysia had very little ability to
participate in decisions that affected them. The government did not
effectively protect indigenous persons civil and political rights, the
report said.
Quoting the 10th Economic Malaysia Plan (RMK-10), the report added
that nearly half of the 30,000 Orang Asli households (or 150,000 people)
were living below the poverty line.
This is despite an allocation of about RM377 million for the Orang Asli
during the Ninth Economic Malaysia Plan.
Of these, about 5,700 households (19%) were considered to be
hardcore poor, the report said.

However, the report stressed that the numbers may have been underreported as the RMK-10 only considered Orang Asli living in villages and
not those in the rainforest.
Not represented by Orang Asli
There were also less instances of school dropouts among the Orang
Asli, with a primary school dropout rate of 20% in 2010, compared with
30% in 2008.
Secondary school students were also less known to drop out of school,
although the number was still very significant. The rate here was 30% in
2010, compared with 50% in 2008.
High school fees, limitations of scholarship and less specific allocations
are the reasons that contribute in the school dropout of indigenous
children. The quota of scholarship programme is being cut down and
because of that, only several children from the capable family will be
selected.
The US-based report also looked into the under-representation of Orang
Asli in government-affiliated agencies.
It said that only one Orang Asli held a managerial position within the
Department of Orang Asli Development (JKOA, formerly the Department
of Orang Asli Affairs).
The report added that only five Orang Asli out of 17 members sat on the
government-sponsored Orang Asli National Advisory Council.