PUTRAJAYA: The Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 (Act 134) will be amended by improving legal aspects involving land ownership as well as the registration of marriages and the birth of Orang Asli children, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Rural and Regional Development Minister, there was a need to amend the act, which will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat soon.

“This amendment is needed because there are some constraints, especially in terms of land ownership among the Orang Asli and they need to be given legal rights to village areas and permanent land ownership.

“There are also constraints from the National Land Code and legislation that are ‘related to’ matters on land affairs involving state governments. With this amendment, cooperation between the federal government and state government will be established,“ he told a media conference after visiting the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA), here, today.

He said the element of marriage registration is also included in the amendment since most Orang Asli are faced with the problem of marriage documentation due to customary marriage, which results in their children not having a valid citizenship certificate.

“The Orang Asli community needs to be given equal opportunities to protect their interests and, for that, the government is very committed to implementing any development for them,” he said.

As for educational opportunities, Ahmad Zahid said it should be provided until the highest educational level, with 300 Orang Asli children targeted to enter university this year.

“To achieve this goal, motivational programmes and extra classes will be implemented because if they are given tertiary education, they can at least bring changes to their own families,” he said.

He said that the Orang Asli Economic Development Secretariat was formed today, with Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor, who is also an Orang Asli, appointed as chairman and JAKOA as the secretariat.

He said that smart partnerships will also be carried out with any company or private party to implement corporate social responsibility programmes in the Orang Asli villages.

Currently, there are 209,000 Orang Asli communities nationwide. - Bernama

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