Extracted from Malaysiakini
Indigenous peoples want bigger share of economic pie
Dayaks, Kadazandusun-Muruts and other non-Muslim indigenous groups have a low level of economic participation and are still regarded as among the poorer groups in the country, said prominent businessperson Leonard Linggi Jugah.
Linggi is the president of the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sarawak (DCCI). The DCCI and Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sabah had organised the two-day ‘Bumiputera minorities’ Economic Congress’ from Feb 6.
He said a request to the government to set up a RM200 million revolving fund is meant to assist interested owners develop Native Customary Land (NCL) or native land, in order to increase productivity and to enable them to retain ownership.
Linggi said be believed that the two chambers have succeeded in sending the message to the national leadership, in particular Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, that the indigenous communities need more attention to raise their economic standing.
“Both Abdullah and Mustapa Mohamad (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department) were very responsive. We’re very hopeful,” he said.
There are at least three million hectares of NCL land in
Current policy on NCL development is seen by some quarters as not giving the opportunity to owners to develop the full potential of the land, as efforts appear to be directed at getting only large companies - either those already engaged in plantation activities or diversifying from timber - to lead in development.
Many Dayak politicians and community leaders are also worried about the future of NCL land which is deemed ‘sacred’ by the community, as it forms part of tanah pesaka or customary rights land.
DCCI secretary-general Freddie Acho Bian said the two chambers would leave it to the authorities to decide the mechanics of disbursing allocations from the proposed fund.
“We have, however, expressed our views to the authorities,” he said.
He also said one resolution from the congress was that equity share held by Dayaks and Kadazandusun-Muruts (KDM) should be raised progressively to three percent by 2010.
The indigenous groups of
“The Dayaks and KDM share is less than one percent. As they represent nearly 10 percent of the country’s total population, it would be fairer if they hold three percent or RM27 billion of the present total market capitalisation,” he explained.