Native rights must be safeguarded: Pairin
Penampang: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan called on indigenous people across the globe to work together in fighting for and safeguarding their rights. He said like the women and children whose rights are recognised and well protected internationally, indigenous groups in Sabah and in other places can also have the same with a strong global networking among them.
Pairin who is also Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) President said although indigenous people in this country and others are considered a minority they need to be protected and supported by the Government.
“The rights of the indigenous people need to be safeguarded. They need to be given priority and assisted so that they will not be left out from the development mainstream,” he said at the World Indigenous People’s Day (PHOAS) celebration held at the KDCA compound, Saturday.
Pairin, who is huguan siou (paramount chief) said although the indigenous people in Sabah are well looked after there was still room for improvement. He said this is based on the initial feedback from the workshop on “Impact of Laws and Government Policies to the Indigenous Peoples in Sabah” held earlier, at which some issues affecting indigenous people in the State like on land were raised for the State Government’s immediate attention.
“It is important for the State government to look into and address the issues or problems faced the indigenous people like those related to land matters which were brought up during the seminar,” he said. He likened these issues or problems faced by the indigenous people to a disease which urgently needs to be attended to and fully cured.
He commended non-governmental organisations like Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos Trust) and Jalinan Orang Asal Sedunia (JOAS) involved in organising the celebration and the other related activities which can help boost public awareness on the indigenous people.
“Being part of the indigenous community, I am also proud of the increasing recognition given to indigenous people,” he said, happy that youngsters from the indigenous community are more and more aware of the importance of preserving their invaluable heritage.
Pairin said despite being a minority, the indigenous community is also playing an important role in the development of the country, the state and the people.
“The Government, as we have seen, has made many changes in its effort to develop the country, the state and the people,” he said.
But, by the same token, he pointed to land conversion like paddy fields getting smaller by the day to make way for housing or other property development and asked whether there is a need to forgo everything to modernisation without considering all that has been passed down by the elders. “Do we want to leave behind all that we have inherited from our elders?” he asked.
Source: Daily Express, 10/8/2008. Posted By Allan Dumbong