SEPA President Wong Tack led a group of sixteen SEPA and family members to Tambatuon to celebrate the ‘2011 World Indigenous Peoples Day, Sabah Region’ with the villagers, supporters and their friends. Among those who accompanied Wong Tack were Secretary Paul Chang, Legal Adviser Lanash Thanda, Committee Members Ng Kiam Kee and Alice Mathews and SEPA Adviser SM Muthu.
The 4 day (14th-17th Sept.) celebration was jointly organised by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) and PACOS TRUST together with the Tambatuon Village Action Committee. This year’s celebration focussed on awareness towards Native Customary Rights and their rights regarding land, the role and importance of natives in Malaysia and to gather and garner support and co-operation from all concerned citizens to make a strong and united stand against the proposal to construct a dam in Tambatuon which will affect and submerge large tracts of customary lands.
There were dialogue secessions where participants exchanged ideas and experiences in various districts, workshops, video shows, traditional sports and games, cultural performances and ‘gotong-royong’. PACOS’ Legal Adviser Datuk Kong Hong Ming gave a talk on NCR and proved to be a favourite among the participants.
With participation from 21 districts and more than 189 participants apart from visitors and well-wishers who thronged the 4 day event, the celebration proved to be a great success.
The only sad part was that there was no participation, attendance or representation from any government department or relevant leaders though invitations had been sent out.
Wong Tack also represented in his speech introduced Himpunan Hijau, a new national Green movement, dedicated to the observance and implementation of all the principles enshrined in the EARTH CHARTER, one of which emphasises special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
He emphasized that Himpunan Hijau was envisioned to be a campaign based on hope not fear with the idea that everyone should take responsibility for their own future and the future of their children.
The choice is ours he said. He stressed that all of us need to act – that was why he was there with his team to lend support to the Orang Asal.
Wong Tack had also brought along his palm-print campaign banner. It was an instant hit as there was a long que of villagers eager to print their palm in support of the EARTH CHARTER and the Rights of the ORANG ASAL.
There was a slight drizzle but it did not deter all the leaders who took time to mark the occassion by planting some ‘petai’ trees around the kampong school.
The celebration ended on 17th September with the ‘gotong-royong’ but the struggle for Environmental Conservation and a better deal for the Indigenous people of Malaysia shall continue.