An elder from the Iban community in Simunjan performing the ‘miring’ ceremony to welcome guests to this year’s celebration. — Photos by Muhammad Rais Sanusi
KUCHING: The Indigenous People’s Network of Malaysia (Joas) will be submitting a letter to the state government to seek recognition for the rights of all indigenous groups in Sarawak.
Joas president Thomas Jalong said the disintegrating rights of the indigenous people in Sarawak were mostly related to their Native Customary Right (NCR).
“We hope that the government will give better attention to the indigenous community by being more sensitive to their plight and make amends to their current policies or laws related to NCR,” said Thomas in his fiery speech at the national-level celebration of United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples held at the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) hall yesterday.
He also said the perennial rights of Sarawak’s indigenous people should be mutually respected by everyone and backed by the government.
Thomas also called upon the state government to provide the community with monetary assistance to promote their rich culture and traditions as well as to carry out their activities.
On another note, he said the sentiments of the indigenous people were expressed during a seminar on Indigenous Territories that was attended by groups from Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia on Aug 8 at the same venue.
Also speaking was Joas Sarawak deputy chairman Ramuald Siew, who said the global celebration started in 1994 when the UN General Assembly marked Aug 9 as the official date for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Yesterday, the celebration was officially launched by Unicef Malaysia senior social policy specialist Victor Karunan together with Thomas and members of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) as this year’s hosts.
Statistics given by Jaos stated that indigenous people make up 13.8 per cent of the nation’s total population.