Corporate encroachment forcing natives off their customary land

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The loss of Orang Asli land in Kelantan through aggressive logging and deforestation is an example of how human dignity is shredded. - Photograph: Bernama pic/Malay Mail

The government has a moral and social responsibility to protect the rights of the indigenous people to their livelihoods, says JD Lovrenciear.

In the name of development and progress, we build mahligais for the rich and successful and the well-connected.

In the name of economic success, we conquer forests and trumpet our huge success in greening once virgin jungles with oil palm plantations.

While the urban dwellers celebrate and bask in the goodness of modernity, we do not care much for the people of this land who live on their native and ancestral lands in our fast-depleting forests.

Illegal and indiscriminate logging and mining activities – sanctioned or unknown to authorities – eventually will make any nation a beggar in the long haul.

Little do we consider that as much as urbanites have a right to enjoy and partake in this maddening rush for progress of modern living, the indigenous communities have an equal right to safeguard and enjoy their ancestral land, rights and culture without being robbed and bullied by modern society.

At some point, the global community is going to reprimand and even ostracise the nation for its indiscriminate attacks on the human rights of the indigenous communities. Then what do we do?

The arrests and detention of natives who stand off against loggers and miners shows that we do not care for the original inhabitants of this nation.

This has to stop. The government – at state and federal levels – have a moral and social responsibility to protect the rights of citizens to their livelihood – including our varied communities of indigenous people.

Will we see more of our lawmakers stand up and defend the future of this nation, its people and land?

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