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Date 05/08/2013

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 5, 2013): The government has set up a task force to review the Human Rights Commission's (Suhakam) report on the land rights of indigenous peoples, with promises that appropriate action will be taken.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Paul Low said the land rights of indigenous peoples is an important topic that needs a task force to engage in consultation with all affected groups including government agencies in Sabah and Sarawak.

"The job of the task force is to review the report by Suhakam and see what needs to be done from there.

After that, the task force will continue to monitor the situation to see if there has been any improvement," he said today at the unveiling of Suhakam's first national inquiry which saw the attendance of several orang asli NGOs as well.

In its 18 recommendations, Suhakam called for, among others, the recognition of indigenous customary rights to land, addressing security of tenure, reviewing compensation, ensuring land development does not adversely impact indigenous peoples, and establishing an independent national commission on indigenous peoples.

He also said that as of now, there is no time frame for the task force to perform its duties and action taken will be done in phases.

"We will act based on what we learn from the report and find the most suitable solution that is also within the government's capability," he said.

The task force will be headed by Institute of Integrity president Datuk Dr Mohammad Tap Salleh and consultations will involve the Rural and Regional Development Ministry as well.

Low said all this is happening because after the 13th general election, the government has a different and pro-active way of acting, calling it "the government's new way of engaging the public".

He also refuted claims that the government plans to amend the Aborigines Act 1954.

"As far as I know, there is no plan to amend (the Act)," he said.

Source : The Sun Daily

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