Call for Signatures: Letter of Concern on the Situation of the Semai Tribe in Kampung Pos Lanai, Kuala Lipis, Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia
April 18, 2023


The Prime Minister of Malaysia

Menteri Besar, Pahang State Government

Director General, Department of Lands and Mines of Pahang

Director, Forestry Department of Pahang

Director General, Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) and 

The Federal Government.

The Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples (REP), Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (The Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia, JOAS), the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) and the undersigned, are writing to express our concern about the situation facing the Orang Asli community from the Semai tribe in Kampung Pos Lanai, Kuala Lipis, Pahang Darul Makmur.

This indigenous community from the Semai tribe have occupied the land in Kampung Pos Lanai since time immemorial and have a deep connection to this land, which is their customary land. They have lived and existed in this area as a separate and identifiable community for generations, practicing their traditional customs and culture.

However, the indigenous community is now facing threats from various profit-making projects and encroachment on their land without their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the Maysian Government voted to adopt in 2007.

In 2011, the government proposed the construction of the Telom Dam, which would have submerged the indigenous community’s original village. Although the project was cancelled in 2019, encroachment continues from timber concessionaires who demand that they have a logging license from the Forestry Office.

Furthermore, the indigenous community is now facing a new threat from the proposed rare earth mining in the area. The mining activities will pollute their only source of water, which is Sungai Telom, and the use of various chemicals to extract these rare earth minerals will pollute the groundwater and Sungai Telom. The community has objected to this project, and it is now on hold. However, there is news that illegal mining is still being attempted in this area.

The indigenous community has been protesting against this project and other encroachments on their land for many years. They have also filed a civil action seeking a declaration that they are the holders of customary rights of the land under the Orang Asli Act 1954.

We urge the Malaysian Government to take immediate action to protect and support the Orang Asli community in their fight for their rights to their land.

Specifically, we urge the Malaysian Government to:

  1. Respect the Orang Asli community’s rights to their customary land and forests and ensure that they are not forced to relocate from their land.
  2. Take immediate action to stop the proposed rare earth mining in the area, which will have a detrimental effect on the community’s health and well-being.
  3. Take steps to declare the area as an Orang Asli Reserve under the Aboriginal Peoples Act (1954).
  4. Respect the indigenous community’s right to Self-determination and FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) and of their cultural and spiritual connections to their land.

We hope that the Malaysian Government will take these actions to protect the rights of the Semai-Orang Asli community in Kampung Pos Lanai, Kuala Lipis, Pahang Darul Makmur.

We urge the government to recognize and respect their rights as Indigenous Peoples and to work with them to find a just and equitable solution to their situation.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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