PRESS RELEASE : OA in a bind ?
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Rights of Orang Asli Communities: Was the principle of free, prior and informed consent obtained for the HSKLU letter?
17 November 2020
The Pertahankan Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara (PHSKLU) coalition members are concerned that the alleged support for the de-gazettement by Orang Asli village chiefs was done without their ‘free, prior and informed consent’ and call for an investigation into this matter. We were informed of evidence indicating that in Mid-September (prior to the town hall/Public inquiry meeting on 29 September to discuss objections to the degazettement) seven out of eight Tok Batin or village chiefs in Kuala Langat District apparently indicated their support of the degazettement of Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara (HSKLU) but at the same time requested support to expedite the gazettement of their own villages 
Some members of the coalition have heard that the signing of the letter by these village chiefs may have been done under duress and/or based on partial or misleading information and could have violated the principle of free, prior and informed consent, which is required when dealing with indigenous communities under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) of which Malaysia is a signatory.
This appears to be supported by a speech by YB Elizabeth Wong (PKR – Bukit Lanjan) in the Dewan Negeri on 2 November 2020 when she stated, that she was informed that, “they felt they were squeezed, they were forced to sign because they were given two choices which I felt were unfair. If they wanted to keep their village, they had to sign the letter… (to support the degazettement) ”
It is also clear from the many objections made by members of the Orang Asli communities living adjacent to the HSKLU at the Public Inquiry on 29th September that many community members and at least one whole village are still against the proposed degazettement. The Chairman of the Public Inquiry, YB Hee Loy Sian, informed the participants that the State Government had already agreed, several years ago, to gazette all Orang Asli Villages in Selangor including those in Kuala Langat District.
Therefore there should be no connection between the proposed degazettement of the HSKLU and the final gazettement of the Orang Asli villages.
There are several questions around the manner in which the consent from the chiefs was obtained by the authorities. These include allegations that the chiefs were not provided legal counsel prior to signing the letter, may have been given incomplete or misleading information and the process was not undertaken in an open and transparent manner and the village chiefs felt ‘pressured’ to sign if they did not want to lose their villages.
This is further corroborated by coalition member and Temuan activist whose village is directly affected, Shaq Koyok “I was surprised to learn the Tok Batin had signed the letter without citing the necessary legal framework and not done in discussion with the community, which is normally done”
We are seeking clarification from both the Orang Asli community and the Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (JAKOA) at Selangor and Federal levels on what transpired. PHSKLU would like to see a proper investigation undertaken on the allegations mentioned above.
PHSKLU will remain vigilant on this issue to ensure that development plans undertaken in Selangor remain sensitive to the needs and demands of the indigenous communities affected by these plans. We strongly condemn any form of manipulation or coercion of communities and at the cost of environment, habitat and cultural destruction.
For more details please contact Suresh Kumar at 019-569-6964 email@example.com
Sidang Dewan Negeri Selangor | 2 November 2020 - Sesi petang
1: 17:00 Quote by YB Elizabeth Wong
 Two villages who have apparently indicated their support are far away from HSKLU in different mukims while the one immediately adjacent to HSKLU has maintained its objection.
Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam ( PEKA )
SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia)
Persatuan Kesedaran dan Keadilan Iklim Malaysia (Klima Action Malaysia- KAMY )
Five Arts Centre
Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA)
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
Global Environment Centre (GEC)
Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera (GRASS) Malaysia
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor Branch
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES)