Institut Darul Ridzuan [IDR] Perak, held its 1st Annual Research Seminar on 18th March 2014. IDR is the official Think Tank of the Perak State Government. It aims to assist the state government in improving the socio-economic status of Perak by supporting the Perak Amanjaya Development Plan. Thus, BRAINetwork was very honoured to be invited to the seminar to present the First Mile Project. You can download the presentation file in pdf format, HERE. BRAINetwork was also invited to write a policy brief that would be presented to the State Government in order to assist Perak in improving the status of the Orang Asal. You can read about the Policy Brief HERE.
In Perak, the Orang Asal can be found in the 130 million year old Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex which has tremendous ecological, aesthetic and economic value including immense tourism potential. Belum-Temengor is also a catchment area for all major rivers in Perak and their rainforests provide the last refuge for at least 14 globally threatened animals and is home to various species of flora – from the largest flower in the world, to the oldest plants on earth.
As custodians of the Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex, the Orang Asal need to be included in a culturally acceptable manner, taking into account their needs and sociocultural perspectives. Their participation will ensure the sustainability and active contribution to ecotourism and other ecologically based and sustainable economic development opportunities within the Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex .
The BRAINetwork First Mile Project takes into consideration the perspective of the Orang Asal with active participation from the community. We work in close cooperation with Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (JAKOA) where an Eco village project in RPS Air Banun has gained community acceptance and sociocultural relevance. The goal of the Eco village Project is to enable the Orang Asal to become socially, economically and ecologically sustainable.
Currently, the Eco village Project in RPS Air Banun is funded by a Universiti Sains Malaysia Research Grant that ends in 2014. Thus there is an urgent need for a policy decision that would allow this project to be sustained by the relevant agencies such as JAKOA or through private foundations such as the Pulau Banding Foundation.
In the policy brief presented to IDR Perak, BRANetwork has made several recommendations which are in parallel with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. You can read the UN Declaration HERE. We believe that the suggested policy changes will provide the Orang Asal with sustainable access and control thus reiterating their primary role as custodians of the Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex and to empower them to be a continuing and vital force within the community.