AIPP Expresses Concern on the attempt of Datu Seri Musa Aman to discredit PACOS
The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) is deeply concerned by the statement of Datuk Seri Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah, against the Partners of Community Organizations in Sabah (PACOS). In a published article on the Daily Express Malaysia last November 13, 2014, Chief Minister Musa Aman alleged that NGOs such as PACOS are misleading and confusing natives to blame the government of not giving them lands. AIPP is a regional movement of indigenous peoples’ organizations and movements working for the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in the region.
The Chief Minister, speaking during the State Assembly claiming that the government has given lands to natives who instead choose to sell them, was quoted as saying, “We want to stop them from selling their lands. They keep selling their lands. After they finished selling the lands, they blamed the Government. Various NGOs will surface…Pacos and others. They mislead and confuse the people as if the Government is cruel, the Government does not want to give them lands when the Government had already given a million acres.”
The statement of the Chief Minister paints a picture that PACOS and other organizations working to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples are just using the natives of Sabah for their own interest. The Partners of Community Organisations in Sabah (PACOS), is an active and credible member of AIPP. As a member of AIPP, PACOS has been a reliable member and outstanding organization, committed to building the capacities of community organisations in Sabah and have played a key role in defending the rights of indigenous peoples in Malaysia and in Asia.
PACOS has been very active in raising the awareness of indigenous peoples (natives) in Sabah on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; providing their expertise in community organizing to other organisations of indigenous peoples across Asia; and raising the issues and concerns of Malaysia’s indigenous peoples to relevant international human rights mechanisms and procedures.
In 2013, PACOS along with other organizations in Malaysia hosted the Asia regional consultation with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. During this consultation, the situation of land grabbing of the State and corporations of the lands of indigenous peoples in Malaysia was highlighted. This issue is affirmed by numerous reports such as the SUHAKAM report, land cases lodged in courts, reports of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), MTCC, and other cases brought up through mass media and even by government agencies. These land grabbing issues as attested by the said reports belie the claim of the Chief Minister that the government has prioritized the natives in their land recognition claims.
We therefore urge the Chief Minister and the Government of Malaysia to desist from vilifying PACOS and other organisations in Sabah and Malaysia who are genuinely working to promote the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples in Malaysia.
We urge the government that instead of sowing divisions among indigenous peoples and their organisations, the Malaysian government should engage its indigenous peoples towards the full recognition of their rights especially to their lands, territories and resources, more importantly as one of the States who supported the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We urge the government to likewise engage and recognize the contributions of its civil society organisations including indigenous peoples organisations such as PACOS who can provide its expertise on indigenous peoples to address the issues and concerns of indigenous peoples in Malaysia.