By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia’s Rural Development Ministry has denied attempting to place a nonindegenous or Orang Asli  as Director-General of its indegenous affairs department, following claims made by the country’s only indegenous Member of Parliament (MP).

The minister, Abdul Latiff Ahmad, said that as per Article 8 (5)c of the Federal Constitution, appointing a qualified member of the Orang Asli community from within the civil service as the Jakoa director-general has always been its goal.

“Therefore, the issue of civil servants appointing a successor is not true because the process is still being discussed and analysed,” he said in a statement today.

“The nomination of the Jakoa director-general is carried out in accordance with the procedures set under the authority of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as stipulated in Section 5 of the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954.”

The Department of Orang Asli Development (Malay: Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli), abbreviated JAKOA, is the Malaysian government agency entrusted to oversee the affairs of the Orang Asli. This body is under the Malaysian Ministry of Rural Development and was first set up in 1954.

He added that the selection of candidates is based on several criteria, such as extensive experience in administration, financial management, project management, socio-economic development as well as close cooperation with government agencies and NGOs.

Ramli Mohd Nor, the country’s sole Orang Asli MP, had alleged that civil servants in the ministry were trying to instal a non-Orang Asli at the helm of the department, urging the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to do more for advancement of the community.

“PN should also pay more attention to various outstanding issues affecting the Orang Asli community. Among these are socio-economic development, education, health, the gazetting of Orang Asli land and customary land, and the general welfare of the community,” he said.

Ramli added that the Orang Asli are lagging far behind Malaysian society in general in all these aspects.